Ali’s passing has brought out universal acclaim of an international hero, a social justice warrior who fought for the powerless and spoke for the voiceless. Although a prizefighter, in the second half of his life his fights were about religious freedom and tolerance. He will still be criticized as a conscientious objector to the draft who refused to kill other human beings for political agendas. That will never go away for patriots who will always recount their pain and the deaths of their comrades in battle. But Ali was not a draft-dodger nor a privileged avoider, like many white politicians of today.
Cheri Becerra-Madsen and her medals – (Courtesy Image)
Now we have social media trolls who will bait us with insulting remarks. One current meme is that Ali said more inflammatory remarks than Donald Trump ever has. Context is everything. When Ali won in the ring, all the powerless felt that victory as they did when Joe Louis won and would ride that celebratory feeling as long as they could. And when he lost, the racists would jeer and taunt because Ali stood for more than wins in a ring. He stood up and fought back within the law and his religious beliefs against the modern concepts of slavery, slave-masters and social domination. His titles were taken from him illegally and the repression against him was immoral and unethical, but he always stood his ground, no matter the consequences.
Trump against Ali would be a dream match of oratorical skills, where we would see the bully beaten badly. Donald Trump has bared something dark in the soul of America and even if he loses badly in November, American politics may never be the same. Ali’s passing represents the passing of an era, unless as Gyasi Ross says, we seek out and support a new generation of outspoken and courageous leaders.
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