In all the hoopla over Muhammad Ali's "statement" about Islam a couple weeks ago, none of the major newspapers which celebrated his defense of Islam thought to remember what Ali used to say about race mixing: he was against it.
Take a look at this clip from an interview he gave on British TV in 1971.
Here are a few quotes from that interview:
"I'm sure no intelligent white person watching this show, no intelligent white man in his or her right white mind, want black boys and black girls marrying their white sons and daughters, and in return, introducing' their grandchildren as half-brown, kinky-haired black people."
When the white host interjected that he wouldn't mind, Ali continued, "Well you don't have it, you say you do, but you don't have it, you really ain't gonna have it, you on your show, you gotta say that."
When the host said, again, that they were the same, Ali said, "Oh, we're different, you know we're different…..No, not society, God made us different…..Listen, bluebirds fly with bluebirds, red birds gonna be with red birds. Listen, listen, tell me when I'm wrong. Pigeons want to be with pigeons…..I don't see no black and white couples in England or America, walkin' around proud, holdin' their children."
"Life's too short for me to be catchin' hell for something like that. Again, I'd rather be with my own, have a beautiful daughter, a beautiful wife, they look like me, we all happy, and I don't have no trouble. Now I ain't that much in love with no woman to go through all that hell, ain't no woman that good."
When the host said that he thought Ali's attitude was sad, Ali replied, "It ain't sad that I want my child to look like me, every intelligent person wants his child to look like him. I'm sad because I want to blot out my race and lose my beautiful identity?"
This, by the way, is the same Muhammad Ali who called Sonny Liston a "big black ugly bear" and Joe Frazier 'King Kong." Of course, he also once said that all white men are the devil.
But one stance Ali never wavered on was racial separatism. Somehow George Wallace and Lester Maddox have ended up demonized ("devil-ized?") for that view, while Ali remains a liberal icon. And neither Wallace nor Maddox ever went so far as to say that all black men are the devil. Gee….you'd almost think there was a double standard at work here.
In any case, while the newspapers were so triumphantly quoting Ali's defense of Islam -- words he almost certainly never said -- it would have been nice, for the sake of balance, if they had quoted some words which he actually did say.
But since those quotes don't fit with the media's narrative, they will remain buried.