In these tense times when the news about viruses, protest marches and renamed streets tends to be negative, it is somewhat heartening to learn that the NASCAR Noose Threat wasn’t anything like it first appeared to be.

The FBI said Tuesday that the noose found in black driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway was at the end of a rope used to lower the stall’s door.

Video evidence showed that the rope had been on the door of that particular stall since last October, which meant it was never intended as a direct threat to Wallace.

Frankly, it was a relief to hear that the noose wasn’t a hate crime. It was an unfortunate coincidence, nothing more.

Looking back, though, it is no surprise that NASCAR reacted so quickly when the rope report came in. Wallace, who is NASCAR’s only black driver, had in recent weeks successfully persuaded the organization to ban the Confederate battle flag from its races. Given the rural, moonshining history of stock car racing, there was sure to be resistance to the decision.

Fortunately, the objections took the form of legal and peaceful protests, such as when a plane flew over the track with the Rebel flag and the message, “Defund NASCAR.” That’s far more tolerable than the direct threat to Wallace that the original noose reports implied.

The news from Talladega will do little to heal the country’s wounds, but for once it turned out that things were not as bad as they seemed.  That’s a small win, but one worth accepting.

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