It was interesting to watch this week as Muhammad Ali was lionized after his death and during his two-day funeral on Thursday and Friday. People forget how controversial Ali was. The “Louisville Lip” was, after his conversion, the most famous Muslim in the United States. And still was up until his death.
Aside from being an “uppity black” in a time when that was hardly celebrated – actually, it’s not celebrated in 2016 either – Ali famously refused induction into the Army and the otherwise inevitable trip to Vietnam. Ali famously said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
His refusal to be inducted into the service led to his suspension from boxing, with his case as a conscientious objector eventually making it up to the United States Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision, Clay v. United States, 403 U.S. 698 (1971), the Supreme Court found the government had failed to properly specify why Ali’s application for conscientious objector status had been denied, thereby requiring his conviction to be overturned. Even so, Ali lost four years of his prime athletic life, and by the time he returned to the ring, he was still great, but maybe not as great as he could have been.
Like his one-time mentor, Malcolm X, Ali eventually turned away from the Nation of Islam and became simply a Sunni Muslim. Still the most famous Muslim in the United States.
In 1984, shortly after his retirement, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. By the time of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, at which Ali lit the torch in the opening ceremony, it was clear that the disease had ravaged his body. The disease did what no one else could have: it essentially shut Ali up.
I’m guessing that if the disease had not shut Ali up, the American public might not have liked a lot of what he would have had to say in the intervening years. Especially now, a year in which the nominee for one of the two major American political parties has proposed – and many of his followers have endorsed – a policy of keeping all Muslims out of the United States.
Ali’s body was barely in the ground, of course, before the mass murderer Omar Mateen shot up a gay club in Orlando Florida. And those bodies were not yet cleaned up from the floor of the club before Donald Drumpf, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Drumpf was proposing that President Obama resign because he hadn’t used the words “Radical Islam” in his short speech to the nation.
Radical Islamic terrorist.
Happy now, you race-baiting fuckwad?
Since Mateen made a 911 call prior to his mass murder proclaiming his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the so-called Islamic State, we can safely presume that this sociopath was an Islamic terrorist. Just like Dylann Roof was a racist Christian terrorist.
Drumpf, of course, also doubled down on his proposal to keep Muslims out of this country even though Omar Mateen was an American, born in New York City.
This guy, Drumpf is such an asshole, such a Brobdingnagian asshole, that I still can’t believe anyone would want to vote this guy for President, never mind the 13.3 million or so morons that actually have voted for this guy.
Sorry America. 13.3 million of us really are morons.
 As it turns out, Ali may have said only the first half of that phrase, and the rest was just attributed to him. But that’s what everyone in America believed he had said.