Monday, June 6, 2016

The Radical Who Transformed Us

Governor Lying Coward did not have a single word to say about the death of one of the most consequential Kentuckians who ever lived.  Unfortunately, some "news" outlets are attributing to Bevin a statement from the extremely obscure Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission:

"The Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission extends its deepest sympathy to the family of Muhammad Ali. Ali was more than just the three-time heavyweight champion: he was the Greatest. We are so proud to call him a native son and will work hard to advance the sport he loved. Rest in peace, Champ."
Democratic Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was not afraid to publicly mourn Ali, ordering flags lowered to half-staff throughout the city. But from conservatard repug Bevin we got no statement, no flag-lowering order, just crickets.

For the man whose radical patriotism changed the nation and the world.

Ali was attending a rally for fair housing in his hometown of Louisville when he said:
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 while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.
Damn. This is not only an assertion of black power, but a statement of international solidarity: of oppressed people coming together in an act of global resistance. It was a statement that connected wars abroad with attacks on the black, brown and poor at home, and it was said from the most hyper exalted platform our society offered at the time: the platform of being the Champ. These views did not only earn him the hatred of the mainstream press and the right wing of this country. It also made him a target of liberals in the media as well as the mainstream civil rights movement, who did not like Ali for his membership in the Nation of Islam and opposition to what was President Lyndon Johnson’s war.
But for an emerging movement that was demanding an end to racism by any means necessary and a very young, emerging anti-war struggle, he was a transformative figure. In the mid-1960s, the anti-war and anti-racist movements were on parallel tracks. Then you had the heavyweight champ with one foot in each. Or as poet Sonia Sanchez put it with aching beauty, “It’s hard now to relay the emotion of that time. This was still a time when hardly any well-known people were resisting the draft. It was a war that was disproportionately killing young Black brothers and here was this beautiful, funny poetical young man standing up and saying no! Imagine it for a moment! The heavyweight champion, a magical man, taking his fight out of the ring and into the arena of politics and standing firm. The message was sent.” We are still attempting to hear the full message that Muhammad Ali was attempting to relay: a message about the need to fight for peace.

Full articles can and should be written about his complexities: his fallout with Malcolm X, his depoliticization in the 1970s, the ways that warmongers attempted to use him like a prop as he suffered in failing health. But the most important part of his legacy is that time in the 1960s when he refused to be afraid. As he said years later, “Some people thought I was a hero. Some people said that what I did was wrong. But everything I did was according to my conscience. I wasn’t trying to be a leader. I just wanted to be free.” Not the fight, the reverberations. They are still being felt by a new generation of people. They ensure that the Champ’s name will outlive us all.

Bill Russell said it best in 1967. “I’m not worried about Muhammad Ali. I’m worried about the rest of us.” That is more true than ever.
Shame on you, Governor Pants-Shitter. You aren't fit to shine Ali's shoes.  And don't you DARE attend the funeral.

1 comment:

habproductions said...

Did you see his latest tweet today? He posted a picture of a heart-shaped turd. So yeah... I'd say he really does have a thing for shit.