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Friday, December 11, 2015

Muhammad Ali's "statement"

Most of the major news outlets reported yesterday that Muhammad Ali had issued the following statement in response to Donald Trump's suggestion that further immigration of Muslims be temporarily suspended:

“I am a Muslim, and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion … We, as Muslims, have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”

“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”

Most of the newspapers which reported this statement had a triumphant tone to their articles, as if to say, see? We have this great icon on our side!

USA Today said that Ali was "an inspiration" and described his statement as "touching" and a "beautiful response after Donald Trump's anti-Muslim comments."

The Washington Post said that Ali was "clearly unhappy with the businessman's politics." 

NBC News' headline was, "Muhammad Ali Hits at Trump and 'Misguided Murderers' Sabotaging Islam." The first sentence of the article started out, "Like the champion fighter he is, Muhammad Ali took jabs Wednesday…."

The New York Times at least said that Ali had said these things "in a statement delivered to NBC." In other words, nobody heard him say these things himself. Of course, this is not atypical of celebrities; they often have PR firms which release statements for them. 

The question is, to what extent are these actually Ali's thoughts? He has suffered from Parkinson's since the early 1980's, and his own brother Rahman said in 2013 that he is basically a helpless captive of his wife, Lonnie, who is only interested in his money.

Ali remains a huge icon to liberals, to boxing fans, and especially, to the black community. During the past 15 years, he has made occasional public appearances in which people always fawn over him, tell him how great he is, and tell him that he's their hero. He smiles, mumbles something unintelligible, then totters off the stage, usually with someone helping him. 

When Ali was young, he was quick-witted as well as quick-handed, beautifully coordinated, and robustly healthy. No matter what you thought of his politics, it was impossible to deny that he was a lively, energetic, uninhibitedly playful and charming presence. 

Now he is the pretty much the opposite. So it's always a little painful to watch when he gets trotted out for a public appearance.

Most of the news reports yesterday included undated photos of Ali, either from roughly 15 years ago, like this one --

-- or pictures in which he is seen with Donald Trump, like this one:

But Ali doesn't look like that anymore. Here is a more recent picture of him:

Given the advanced nature of his deterioration, it seems highly doubtful that he would be following the news closely these days and be cogent enough to analyze it the way his official statement implied.

That statement read in part, "We, as Muslims, have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda."

But who is going to stand up to those who use a senile old man to advance their own personal agendas?

Certainly not any of the major newspapers. 


Steven said...

yeah, there's no way he wrote that himself. Even in his prime, he wouldn't have written like that.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Yes. BTW, did you see that the El Chapo story turned out to be a hoax? I actually wrote post about it, then took it down first thing this morning when I found out.

Bob Wallace said...

Ali scored 78 on the military IQ test when the government tried to draft him.

John Craig said...

Bob --
I had heard he was illiterate (which made his "autobiography" something of a joke) but I always got the impression he was smarter than that. It was more lack of education than anything else. And I wouldn't have put it past him to score deliberately low o that IQ test given his reluctance to be drafted.

Mark Caplan said...

I was wondering, since blacks chant "God damn America!" and Muslims ululate "death to America!" what is the favorite expression of contempt by those who are both black and Muslim?

John Craig said...

Mark --
Well, Mike Tyson actually converted to Islam while he was in jail, and he recently endorsed Donald Trump.

Something tells me he's not typical though.

Anonymous said...

I believe thet the majority of Muslims approve of jihad, so no matter what this celebrity (and/or his PR machine) tries to tell society, he's not going to sway me from being highly suspicious of Muslims.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Ali's statement could have been written by CAIR, and for all I know, was. I don't think he's into jihad, nor do I think he ever was, for some American blacks Islam seems to be more of a "black identity" type of thing. But the Muslims who are from the Middle East tend to be a different breed of cat, far more serous about their religion.

Lady Bug said...

Of course he didn't say that. I do believe that his wife Lonnie is a better person than Ali's brother makes her out to be. Ali's brother was an angry nasty piece of work who led him into the NOI.

It's really sad to see what he looks like nowadays.

By the way have you heard that the Obama administration shut down an active investigation into radical Muslims among whom were Syed Farook?

I am actually beginning to think that Obama really does hate America, not that he is too wrong or wrong headed but that he really truly hates this country

John Craig said...

Lady Bug --
The disgusting ting was that all of the major newspapers took Ali's statement at face value, as if he actually said those words. How ridiculous and willfully blind.

What is NOI? Yeah, I never liked Rahman either.

Hadn't heard that about the Obama administration, but I too am starting to get the impression that he hates America and all it stands for and that all of this attempted importation of Syrians etc. into the country is an attempt to weaken it. Why else would he import a whole bunch of potential terrorists? It's not as if we desperately need more people here.

John Craig said...

LB -- Ah, Nation of Islam. Gotcha.

whorefinder said...

Probably the 1980s can be seen as the time when the left truly took full charge of cultural reigns, despite Reagan and Rambo and John Hughes being ostensibly at the helm.

Why? The mainstreaming of Ali and anti-Vietnam feelings.

We forget that Ali was absolutely hated for his loud mouth nature, his refusal to go to Vietnam, his attacking white people, his black militancy, and his conversion to Islam. He was also seen by some as an opportunist who would do outrageous things just for the attention---a circus sideshow who ran in fixed fights (the famous picture of Ali standing over his opponent was actually Ali yelling at his opponent to get up, as the opponent had taken his dive far too early).

1976's Rocky's main antagonist Apollo Creed was based on Ali, but Stallone (who wrote it) thought that making Creed too much like Ali would hurt the box office because Ali was so hated, and so toned-down Creed's act, didn't mention his religion or his politics, but still kept his loud mouth and his cynicism of using the political/racial climate of the time to make a buck (Apollo's appropriation of the Stars and Stripes on his outfits and his "patriotic" displays were all designed to promote his cynicism).

But by the mid-1980s, Creed's "patriotism" shifted from cynical money grubbing to sincerity and Creed had become a good guy in the films, which is why in Rocky IV his death at the hands of the Russian was seen as American----and Rocky unironically ad patriotically appropriated Apollo's stars-and-stripes boxing shorts in defeating the Russian. By extension, Ali's became a hero as Creed did.

And by the mid-1980s, Hollywood had, by this point, made the anti-Vietnam film practically a cliche, so that when Oliver Stone did Platoon, no one batted an eye and he won awards/acclaim for it and it helped his career. Platoon in the early 170s or even as late as 1976 would have been controversial and would have required him to be much less strident in his politics.

So the culture, controlled by the left, shifted. By 1996 Ali, the hater of America, could unironically light the Olympic torch at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

I never saw Ali fight (born in the late 70s), and I've never liked Ali. I think he was very much fed his lines by some intelligent managers and members of the media apologized for his actions--indeed, Howard Cosell was practically his P.R. man,despite ostensibly being just an announcer. He had the black ability to run his mouth with nonsense when in a longer conversation, which, if you were dumb enough to take as dialectic rather than rhetoric, meant you (the interviewer) were bamboozled by b.s. But most of his statements when going off the cuff were pretty much any low-IQ working class dudes about race, so at least he had a solid grounding on that.

But Ali's always been controlled on his clever one-liners---he's just good at memorizing his lines.. He's just a big, dumb, loud fighter.

Bob Wallace said...

Many years ago, before the brain damage, I saw Ali admit on TV he can barely read and write.

John Craig said...

Whorefinder --
You make a lot of good points, though I disagree with you on some of the particulars. I don't think Ali really had all that much influence on our culture. Maybe because I'm older than you, and remember following Ali's boxing career, I actually remember him with some affection, even though I don't disagree with much of what you say. He went from being a supremely talented boxer to being a good tactician in the ring. to being just courageous in the ring once his skills had pretty much entirely deserted him. And as such, it was hard not to view him in an almost romantic light, boxing being what it is.

I agree that his intelligence was way overrated, and that he was basically just a pawn for smarter people who wanted to use his popularity for their own ends, just as he was a couple days ago. I'm sure he had an instinctive loyalty to his own people, which is only natural (though it's demonized if demonstrated by whites), but I doubt he fully understood what was going on politically and socially. He had a bunch of black Muslims around him who basically just wanted to capitalize on his fame, and they did.

I agree completely about Liston having taken a dive in that fight, as a matter of fact I wrote about it here just this past May:

I also agree that the 1980's were when the propaganda started coming from Hollywood full blast, though I really didn't see it that much in the Rocky films. I'll give you two other examples though. In the first Die Hard movie, Bruce Willis has to do battle with a multiracial gang led by Alan Rickman (playing a German, of course). The bad gang's one black member is, you guessed it, the computer genius for the group. The second big series which started in the 1980's was the Lethal Weapon franchise. It starred Danny Glover as a staid, somewhat prudish family man, and Mel Gibson as his wild, violent, unpredictable partner, who is single. Even back then, I remember thinking hmm….

Stallone, by the way, is a Republican; it was my impression he was just trying to make money with those movies, doing what he had to do. I never got the impression he was trying to make a political or racial statement.

I always got the impression that Ali was fed some of his lines as well, especial the doggerel, though I also heard some which had to have been ad libbed.

Lady Bug said...

I know that during the late 60's early 70's a lot of people hated Ali but that passed pretty quickly because after it was all over almost everyone admitted that Vietnam was a mistake, wasn't it? by the time the Rocky movie came out he was beloved. At least that's my memory.

It was widely known that he could barely read and write but I don't think that means he was stupid.

The person who fed him lots of many of lines of doggerel was drew bundini brown. Remember him? He was the one who made up float like a butterfly sting like a bee.

I don't know anything about boxing, but somebody I know does and he said that in the 1960 Olympics, where Cassius Clay competed as a light heavyweight, he showed a lot of tactical intelligence. At one point it seems he was losing against a very skilled polish opponent and he figured out with the Polish guy was doing and he beat him like I said I don't know about any of this but my friend does.

(dictating on a phone so forgive formatting bizarreness)

John Craig said...

Lady Bug --
Glad you're out and about on a Saturday night, unlike me. My recollection of the whole Ali saga is pretty much the same as yours.

Yes, Bundini Brown, that's right.

The other thing about Ali that was amazing was his longevity. He won that gold as Cassius Clay when Eisenhower was President, then regained his title from Leon Spinks when Carter was President. That's a lot of history in between.

Tucci said...

"...I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam...."

If Ali *had* written that screed, he might have realized that the more those of us in Dar al-Harb ("the house of war," which is how the believing Muslim is required to regard all infidels living in polities beyond the reach of Islamic rule) learn about Islam, the more we regard it as diametrically opposed to everything we value in Western civilization.

Islam is the enemy. Always was, and without the equivalent of a Reformation (akin to that which the Protestants imposed at great cost in blood and treasure on the Roman Catholic Church), the enemy is what Dar al-Islam will always be.

Might as well wake up and smell the taqqiya.

John Craig said...

Tucci --
Well said. Death to the infidels is written into their religion, and while all Muslims don't take that edict seriously, enough of them do that it's time we recognized it.

I see that two of your favorite movies are The Wind and the Lion and Galaxy Quest. Mine too. While the former movie was ostensibly about an Islamic leader, in fact it was really just John Milius projecting his personal ideas about manliness and courage and nobility onto the turn of the century Barbary pirates. (I'm surprised, given your tastes, that you don't include The Man Who Would Be King among your favorites.)

MarieC said...

I like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and I don't understand why she can only be heard and read on conservative media outlets.

John Craig said...

MarieC --
I like her too; liberal media outlets, as you know, almost never give a platform to voices which provide viewpoints at odds with their narrative.

Garima said...


John Craig said...

Grima --