Why the recently deceased "Greatest of All-Time" doesn't deserve an iota of his undeserved reverence.
We here at the Internet Is In America take pride in deconstructing the "Great Man" fallacy - i.e., the false belief that certain individuals, especially those who have recently died, are outstanding, saintly people whose triumphs and accomplishments border on the messianic. Over the years, we've shone a spotlight on this misconception, reminding the public that a lot of nigh sacrosanct individuals - from Gandhi to Steve Jobs to The Beatles to Led Zeppelin to Kurt Cobain to Martin Luther King, Jr. - weren't without their fair share of inconvenient character flaws, seemingly all of which have been almost erased from the Great Blackboard of our Shared Collective Memories.
Well, it's safe to add one Cassius Clay - better known the world over as Muhammad Ali - to that list of venerated, transcendent "heroes" with more than a few skeletons in his or her closet. Equally celebrated as a championship boxer and civil rights crusader, a lot of the overnight obits have peculiarly left out some of the more lamentable aspects of Ali's life ... most notably, the fact that he was a hypocritical, unabashed racist whose greatest "victories" in the ring came under incredibly suspicious circumstances.
Sorry, folks, but the Olympic torch and the Parkinson's and the Rumble in the Jungle are just one aspect of the man's life. Now, here's the side you aren't supposed to talk about in the wake of his passing...
Reason Muhammad Ali Was a Piece of Crap No. One:
His reason for dodging the draft was complete and utter bullshit.
In 1964, Cassius Clay became a Muslim and joined the Nation of Islam - a.k.a., the militant, black separatist organization that put a hit on Malcolm X and whose ranks include four San Fran men who gunned down an estimated 73 white people in the early 1970s. When Uncle Sam came calling in 1966, however, Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War on grounds of being a "conscientious objector," famously declaring "My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape or kill my mother and father.... How can I shoot them poor people?" Although Ali's willful refusal to participate in military activity prevented him from fighting for three years, he never spent substantial time in prison for his draft-dodging. In fact, the move did virtually nothing to damage his career, as he spent the late 1960s touring college campuses and speaking out against racial injustices ... and making a pretty good chunk of change off of it, too. There's just one problem with Ali's justification for skipping out on military duty. "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam?," the man with an alleged IQ of 78 famously remarked. Well, to answer Ali's own inquiry, he didn't have to, seeing as how the Selective Service had a non-combat civilian duty alternative for military conscientious objectors in place since the 1950s. During the Vietnam war, individuals who refused to join the Army had the option to enroll in the 1-W service, in which said objectors could work in hospitals in North America (for a wage, even) or perform non-combat volunteer services abroad (effectively, making it a hybrid between the Works Progress Administration and the Peace Corps.) Even with this option on the table, however, Ali refused to heed his country's call, instead pursing the much more lucrative path of speaking out against the Vietnam War and promoting the NOI's virulently anti-white ideology of hatred coast to coast. Which, naturally, makes the fact Muhammad Ali got his ass kicked (and his jaw broken) in 1973 by a man who pridefully fought in the Vietnam War all the more hilarious and poetic.
Reason Muhammad Ali Was a Piece of Crap No. Two:
Many of his fights were fixed or decided under suspicious circumstances.
Considering Ali's connections to the Nation of Islam - a group with a long track record of intimidating others into getting their desired outcomes - it's not really surprising that questions abound about the legitimacy of the so-called "Greatest of All Time's" victories to this very day. That begins with Ali's first world title win in 1964, when a much, much discussed "phantom punch" sent Sonny Liston crumbling to the mat - indeed, official FBI documents suggest that Liston threw the fight in order to appease mob bookies. In addition to some absolute bullshit decision victories over Earnie Shavers, Leon Spinks and Ken Norton, it has long been suspected that Ali's camp heavily influenced the outcome of even his exhibition bouts. Remember that god awful train wreck that was Ali's 1976 shit-fest against Japanese pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki? Well, according to Inoki protege Bret Hart, that was because the Nation made Antonio an offer he couldn't refuse. "The black Muslims who were backing Ali made it clear that if Inoki laid a finger on their champ, they would kill him," Hart wrote in his 2007 tell-all Hitman. "That's why Inoki lay on his back for fifteen rounds, kicking Ali in the shins so as not to use his hands."
Reason Muhammad Ali Was a Piece of Crap No. Three:
He was unquestionably a racist piece of shit.
Let's cut the flowery, maudlin hagiography and just say it like it is: Muhammad Ali was a racist, bigoted, hate-filled man. He did little to mask his resentment of his Caucasian countryman, once proudly stating "if I'm going to die, I'll die now right here fighting you. You're my enemy. My enemy is the white people, not the Viet Cong or Chinese or Japanese." In 1969, Ali explained on British television why he thought "all Jews and gentiles are devils," emphasizing "everything black people doing wrong comes from (the white people): drinking, smoking prostitution, homosexuality, stealing, gambling." The same year, he said "a black man should be killed if he's messing with a white woman" in a Playboy interview, adding that if a black woman wanted to date a non-black man, "kill her, too." A staunch opponent of race-mixing, he once appeared on a television program to espouse such hateful rhetoric as "no intelligent white person in his or her right, white mind want black boys and black girls marrying their white daughters or sons and in return, introducing their grandchildren as half-brown, kinky-haired black people," and "I don't see no black and white couple in England or America walking around proud holding their children and going out." Ali even showed incredible disdain towards his fellow black athletes, using the "colorism" slur "gorilla" and the term"uncle Tom" to describe arch-nemesis Joe Frazier. Nor did Ali seem to care about the human rights abuses that went on in the Philippines and Zaire for perhaps his two most famous bouts, both of which were arranged through the blood-tainted funds of dictators. And if there ever were any doubts as to the depths of Ali's racist black nationalism, chew on this little morsel that virtually all of the big media obituaries have decided to simply gloss over: namely, the fact that he once spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally in support of racial segregation.
|And if you aren't hearing "woo, I'm so pretty" in a warbled, 16-bit intonation right now, you don't belong anywhere in my culture, Holmes.|
Of course, President Obama, in his glowing commendation of Ali, didn't address any of the less savory elements of the former champ's life. "His wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes - maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves," the Commander in Chief stated shortly after Ali's death, adding "his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today."
Which - judging by the miserable state of social affairs we find ourselves bogged in, week in and week out - might actually be the most damning epitaph anyone has ever received.