People who know the least about Ali
the people now writing the most about him.
You had to be there to know why this guy was so great
One of these guys was bald as a cue ball,
the other one cried openly at his funeral.
I have been on
the road the last three weeks Ė literally on the road, driving through
the broiling southwest. And over the final couple of days I have heard and
read dozens of MSM articles about Muhammad Aliís death, his
history, his legacy. Apparently, judging by the content, all of these MSM
reports have been written by people too young to have lived through Aliís
rise to fame. IOW they were written by people who donít know what they
were writing about. Let me give two quick examples of what I mean.
They never called me "nigger."
The first example is universal and is epitomized in two HuffPo
articles, one by Justin
Block and the other by Ron
Dicker, both of whom are probably, like most of their readers, too
young to have any real clue who Ali was or why he was so amazing. Like the
rest of the MSM, both Block and Dicker seriously misrepresent Aliís
famous comment on why he was resisted the draft and refused to fight in
Vietnam. This is the way Dicker quotes Ali: " ĎI ainít got no
quarrel with them Viet Cong,í [Ali] famously declared."
No, thatís not what Ali "famously declared." Thatís the
PC euphemism. The quote about the Vietnamese that made the headlines
during the war was the "they never called me a nigger" observation:
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 and kill my mother and father. ... Shoot them for what? How can I
shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.
Sure, thereís the contemporary problem of political correctness that
discourages today's writers from using the word "nigger," but
Aliís statement was possibly the most powerful statement about war Ė
and not just the Vietnam war Ė that any public figure had spoken since
FDR called Dec07.1941 a day that would live in infamy. It deserves to be
quoted verbatim to deliver the full force of Ali's punch.
The tragedy is that over the last half-century cowardly writers have
failed or refused to revive Aliís anti-war viewpoint as America waded
into and butchered poor brown people -- mostly Muslims -- of numerous
countries. How many of the 1 million Iraqis America has butchered ever did
anything to harm Americans?
The second example of how clueless contemporary reporters are about Ali
is the fact that in dozens of articles I have read and heard in the last
couple of days, not a single one mentions Howard Cosell.
Cosell was a sports broadcaster for ABC who became famous for his
ringside TV broadcasts of Ali's fights. Ali and Cosell had many
on-camera discussions that were funny, intense, and very, very to the
point. In many ways Ė particularly in the eye of WASPs of the 60's
and 70's Ė Cosell was a Jewish mirror-image of Ali. He was outrageous,
brash, rude, egotistic, annoying, but also principled, and in the long run
. . . right. Ali and Cosell became, in a sense, as much a team as Abbott
and Costelo and Laurel and Hardy.
I say Cosell was "principled" and "right" because
Cosell alone among all TV personalities, politicians, and sports figures
at the time defended his friend, Ali, against the adverse public opinion
caused by Aliís refusal to be drafted and fight the white manís war in
Vietnam. Ali didnít stand up alone against the establishment; he and
Cosell stood up against the establishment together Ė the obnoxious black
guy, the obnoxious Jew. Sure, it was Ali who risked going to jail and who
lost millions in fight revenue, but it was Cosell who did more than anyone
to explain Aliís position to the public, to defend that position, and to
rehabilitate Ali in the publicís eye. When Cosell died in 1995,
Ali wept openly during the funeral.
One would think that the least these people writing about Ali could do
would be to give Cosell a hat-tip, but then again, most of these kids
playing like theyíre reporters donít know what the hell theyíre
writing about. They just re-mash each otherís wiki-crap and put their
name on it.