An open letter to Chris and Jeremy.
June 19, 2008
This article is a response to NASCAR and the Iron Curtain and other postings from Stockcar Racing Online
Dear Chris and Jeremy;
I cannot say that I have been looking forward to your collective take on the recent media blitz concerning the closed driver's meeting. I read Jeremy's article and, at first, was not going to reply. But when Chris supported his point of view, without exception, I could no longer stay silent.
I do not see how either of you can be so sure of your positions with regard to what was said and done without being privy to the meeting itself. I declined comment becuase I have no inside knowledge and therefore am not qualified to editorialize or even speculate. The mistake Brian France made was trying to keep things so secret. Scecrecy breeds suspiscion and suspiscion breeds mistrust; the very nature of the incident lends credence and support to even the wildest flights of conspiratorial imaginings. Individuals will use Mr. France's mistake to shout "I TOLD YOU SO!" loudly and repeatedly from whatever venues they have.
Without having a driver to speak privately to about this thing, the prudent course for me is to give NASCAR the benefit of the doubt. There is, perhaps, more to the story than the media or even our own semi-informed imaginations may know. Again, lack of communication and openess feeds the fires of mistrust, but how do we know, honestly, if this is a blatant attempt at censorship or if there is something more? Do any of us know if a system for airing driver complaints was discussed? Can any of the doubters truly say they KNOW for SURE that the drivers weren't asked to bring their concerns to NASCAR before going to the media, so as to present a unified face, to keep the complaint process "in house" so to speak? That a system of resolution for their concerns WAS NOT on the agenda? Can any of us say for certain that NONE of this was discussed or at least mentioned? I do not believe we can. Have you, Jeremy, spoken to any driver present at this meeting? Have you, Chris? I certainly do not have such a privilege.
I suppose the main reason for this essay are the comments about Nazis. That is a term I would only reserve for my worst enemy. It is not a term to be thrown around lightly, like redneck or Yankee; doing so shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the theories and policies of National Socialism. It was, in its worst incarnation, a vile, murderous, and despicable political system that, thankfully, no longer enjoys a presence as a world power. Perhaps I am just old enough to have fresh in my memory first hand, veteran accounts of the horrors perpetrated on the world by the NSDAP and Nazi Germany to consider being called one an unforgivable insult. No less because a number of members of my greatly extended family were among the 6-8 million "guests" of the Final Solution.
How much hate and disrespect for a single man and his family must one have to compare him and/or them to the likes Adolph Hitler, Adolph Eichmann, Henrich Himmler, Martin Borman and Jospeh Mengele? To some of the most vicious and blood-thirsty criminals in world history? I do not know the France family personally, I may not like what they have done, but to make that comparison, even in jest or in satire, is, to me, completely heartless and cold; particularly when done so lightly and easily, as if it was like calling the sky blue and the grass green. That much hate and discontent is sad, particularly from anyone who claims to love the sport for its family values.
Perhaps I am judging too harshly, perhaps Jeremy is the product of a younger generation, was just using "nazi" as an adjective far removed from its roots, and meant no historical comparison. Perhaps he meant it as symbolic of disregard for fundemental rights. A more apt historical model might have been George III or Richard Nixon or perhaps one of the 19th century "robber barons" (i.e.: trust busting and monoplies). Or even Enron, for a closer example. Or for that matter, our own government; to quote Robert McNamara: "It is a nation's inherent right to lie to protect itself." "Comrade" France might be amusing and somewhat to the point (NASCAR Czar or even Commissar France would be just as useful), given the point he's trying to make, but to take comparison to the Stalinist extreme is just as bad as the care-free apllication of "nazi".
I once said that I took an oath 30+ years ago to protect and defend the Constitution of the United Sates and that I stand by that oath to this day. I will defend to the death the right to free speech, but that does not mean I have to sit back and ignore something I feel is so fundementally wrong. I can honestly say I do not hate anyone or anything with as much vitrolic humor as is appearant from Jeremy's essays. I will not support his point of view simply because of the untempered anger he conveys. I will continue try and counter that as best I can, with a balanced view free of hate, suspiscion and disrespect. I will not buy into conspiracies supported by heresay and misdirection. If that makes him my enemy, than so be it. Chris invited me to write for this group, and if my stand angers him as well, then he can ask me to quit. It will not be justifiable, but it will be as dictatorial and arbitrary as the two of you have accused Mr. France of being. I hope it will not be so.
Thank you for your tolerance and I hope I have caused someone to pause and think.
I am, as always, your friend;
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