I have to say that I’m not at all surprised that NASCAR fans booed the First Lady and the Vice-President’s wife at the race yesterday. In fact, when I saw the words “Michelle Obama” and “NASCAR” in the headlines, I was pretty sure it was not going to go well.
I like Michelle Obama, so I don’t understand booing her. Beyond that, though, I don’t think I could even boo somebody whom I really couldn’t stand. It would just feel weird to me. Booing is a sort of mob-mentality thing, and that just doesn’t hold any appeal for me. It seems really impolite; I was taught that you should be polite in person even with people you really dislike. But people can get away with it in a large group, because no one can really be held accountable.
The really interesting thing to me about this is why my immediate reaction was: NASCAR fans will not like Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. I mean, any other sport and it could go either way, really. I could imagine them being booed or cheered at a football game, for instance. But with NASCAR, it seems to me that booing is virtually inevitable.
So, why? Most liberals reckon it’s racism on the part of the NASCAR fans. Well, maybe, but I’m not convinced they wouldn’t have booed Hillary Clinton, or John Kerry, or George Clooney, or basically any prominent Democrat just as much. And even if it is racism, why should fans of one particular sort of auto racing be overwhelmingly racist? I can’t see any reason for that.
Using the more neutral theory that NASCAR fans are “conservative”–meaning “Nationalistic”–and liberals are cosmopolitan intellectuals still doesn’t bring us any closer to the answer. Why should that sort of person have a particular affinity for NASCAR? There’s no logic to it that I can see. And yet my first reaction–and most peoples’, I suspect–was “NASCAR fans and Michelle Obama–they won’t get along.”
*Technically, for symmetry, it would read better to call the Vice-President’s wife the “Second Lady”, but that just sounds weird to me.