Ben Carson, the only African-American in the running for the presidency, has no issue with NASCAR fans and others waving the Confederate flag “if it’s (on) private property and that’s what they want to do.”
Carson, running for the Republican nomination, made the statement to the Associated Press while visiting the Petty family’s Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C.
The Republican candidate then compared the current place of the Nazi flag in today’s society.
“Swastikas are a symbol of hate for some people, too. And yet they still exist in museums and places like that,” Carson said, going on to call the debate “a local issue.”
“If it’s a majority of people in that area who want it to fly, I certainly wouldn’t take it down.”
The debate over the presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR tracks began following a shooting that killed nine at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17.
On June 23, NASCAR endorsed a call by the governor of South Carolina to remove the flag from the state capitol ground.
Four days later, in an interview with the Associated Press, NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France said the league would “go as far as we can to eliminate the presence of that flag. I personally find it an offensive symbol, so there is no daylight how we feel about it and our sensitivity to others who feel the same way. We’re working with the industry to see how far we can go to get that flag to be disassociated entirely from our events.”
The following week, prior to the running of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR released a statement signed by a majority of the tracks that host Sprint Cup, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series events. The letter requested that fans refrain from displaying the flag in a “renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events.”
Tracks have hosted a trade-in program, beginning with Daytona in July.