SUSAN WADE: KING COUNTY, YOU HAVE LOTS OF NERVE
With its Thursday announcement that it has canceled the July 31–Aug. 2 Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals near Seattle, the NHRA is yet another casualty – not of coronavirus restrictions, as it appears, but of Washington State’s and Seattle’s incredible hypocrisy.
The Glendora, Calif.-based sanctioning body said in its prepared statement that the event at Pacific Raceways is off the 2020 schedule “due to COVID-19 restrictions in Washington state and King County that would not allow fans to attend the event. . . . For the event to proceed with fans in attendance, King County, where the track is located, would need to reach Phase 4 of Washington’s reopening plan. As of today, King County is still in Phase 2 and with the time required before moving into subsequent phases, it would be very unlikely, if not impossible, to arrive at Phase 4 in time for the rescheduled 2020 event.”
Certainly, the NHRA is doing the appropriate thing. At the very least, it’s keeping its promise. Jeffrey Young, vice-president of marketing and communications, had said weeks before that with the re-revised schedule, “We’re going to follow whatever the state guidelines are. We’re not going to go rogue or anything like that.”
However, how dare Washington State – and King County, in particular – deny Pacific Raceways the right to host its race?
How is it that this event, which offers a much-needed positive impact to a once-robust economy that overnight turned sluggish, not permitted? Without a peep from Democratic governor Jay Inslee (who briefly and unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States as a single-agenda climate-change candidate), King County has allowed anarchist thugs, looters, and rioters to run amok in the streets of Seattle and seize property it has nowhere near any right to claim.
What has happened in King County in the past two weeks or so has set a dangerous and disgusting precedent for shameless, hate-spewing, chaos-churning lawbreakers throughout the entire United States. Moreover, while the overwhelming majority of respectable, upstanding citizens in the Puget Sound area were complying with coronavirus directives and business owners were absorbing month after month of diminished revenue, dozens were destroying and stealing from business establishments in Seattle and neighboring Bellevue. (Pacific Raceways is about 35 miles southeast of downtown Seattle, relatively far from the center of ongoing mayhem.)
Gov. Inslee, a man who fancied himself being the leader of the free world, never once stood up for the law-abiding, for the business owners who pay his salary and form the foundation of a normally functioning community. He and Democrat Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has failed on a handful of fronts, certainly weren’t worried about enforcing the precious “social-distancing” rules the rest of the citizens have been forced to obey. Could the number of coronavirus cases be mounting because troublemakers were running in the streets with no regard for anyone else in mind?
So rules, schmooles. Since when did Washington State and King County decide to enforce so-called COVID-19 restrictions?
Perhaps these directives apply only to individuals and companies who respect the law and care about the safety and well-being of one another. Is this yet another case of “The only people obeying the laws are the law-abiding”? Those who thumb their noses at the laws, disrespect and physically target the police, and live by their own rules are free to continue roaming the streets with impunity.
Washington and King County have a lot of nerve in limiting just about anything after the shameful public-relations fiasco they unapologetically have allowed to get out of hand and let continue to this day. Restaurants should be operating at full seating capacity, businesses should be up and running at full speed, and employees working at their regular business sites rather than from home – wearing masks for public health and safety, if that’s what’s necessary. And racetracks and other sporting venues across the country should be allowed to conduct their business while being mindful of public-health practices.
As far as public health concerns go, frankly, anybody who is close to nitromethane in action ought to be wearing a mask in the first place. Wearing masks isn’t the issue.
And the NHRA made a judicious decision, as unfortunate as it was for Pacific Raceways President Jason Fiorito, who had been extremely optimistic and had spent countless hours planning to make his event safe for everyone involved. The NHRA did nothing wrong. It was in a no-win situation. And Pacific Raceways did nothing wrong. So decision-making is not the issue.
Moving forward, how many drag-racing events will face similar coronavirus restrictions – in areas that have had no luck containing civil unrest (let alone “social distancing” and mask-wearing)? Almost every venue the sport plans to visit has grappled with trouble ranging from violent incidents (Minnesota, Atlanta, Indianapolis, St. Louis, for example) to brief but contained disturbances (Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas). Granted, the riots – not to be confused with legal and peaceful assembly (which also violated “social-distancing” restrictions everyone else had to stay at home and obey – occurred a few miles from the racetracks and racetracks were not involved. But how many of those cities will demonstrate the hypocrisy that Seattle blatantly has shown? Hopefully none.
Ironic, isn’t it? Wally Parks founded the NHRA to get hoodlums off the streets. Now, in Seattle, at least, NHRA racers are recognized, rightly, as legitimate. No one takes a knee during the national anthem, no one pickets against the police, and no one disparages the United States. But NHRA racers are parked, while a far more vicious bunch of hoodlums has seized the streets.