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Don’t Mythologize Ali’s Rage


Don’t Mythologize Ali’s Rage

Stephen Kinzer

Reaction to the death of Muhammad Ali this weekend was reverential, and why not? As obituaries explained at great length, Ali was more than just a great boxer. He was a “civil rights activist,” a “champion of free speech,” a “humanitarian,” a “tireless human rights ambassador and philanthropist” known for “gentle generosity.”


Coming of age in the 60s I was inspired by and followed the example set by Ali, King and others who challenged the military industrial complex (MIC) and paid a price. King paid the ultimate price.

Although Ali and the rest of us still standing after the Viet Nam occupation ended were granted amnesty when President Carter took office in 1977, the MIC started deploying its strategy to create eternal occupations and wars. The MIC committed to having eternal war to assure eternal revenue flow. Raygun and his successors assured that the MIC's dreams came true.


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As of 2016 very accurate.


Stephen Kinzer: Thanks for this.

It still amazes me, reading Wikipedia's Clay v. United States, that the Court came to its 8-0 decision to rule in favor of Ali.

A year earlier (1970), a few of us servicemen took a day off from language class in Arlington to see what the Supreme Court was like. I've since come to believe that our visit there that day was providential. The case before the Court that morning involved a drafted conscientious objector to the war. A few months earlier (Nov., 1969), the group I was with, mostly out of curiosity, had attended the massive, half-million-plus, anti-Vietnam, Moratorium Day gathering in D.C. We sat spellbound, as the justices' questions seemed to indicate that there was not one among them in favor of the plaintiff. Being anti-Vietnam war, at that time, was still not widely well received by the general public. We servicemen, on the other hand, believed the plaintiff was sincere. I have no idea how the Court ruled on that case; but, the dialog in the Court, that day, confirmed my inclination at that time to believe that Ali was sincere.

Later, around 1983, I was walking through a relatively quite section of the LA airport, when I happened upon Ali and a group of eight to ten people standing around him in a semi-circle. He was dressed in an exquisite, light grey, glen plaid suit; was taller than I would have expected; and, stunningly handsome. My first thought was, "What do I do? Do I invade this group's space and try to meet him; or, what?" I chose to move back against a wall; and, observe his interaction with people who were obvious admirers. That turned out to be the right choice. I had the wonderful experience of watching him enjoying himself, entertaining this rapt group with a story, followed by a sleight of hand, magic trick. He appeared to be in no hurry; He was simply having fun. I watched for a few minutes; and, then, went on my way, realizing I had just been a very fortunate person.


Well, it’s not too long ago when some Pentagon guy said that Martin Luther King Jr would’ve supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.


Had MLK not been assassinated, the corporations, their media and politicians would have turned him into a pariah the way they did Ralph Nader, whose rise to anti-establishment prominence paralleled MLK's.

With MLK relegated to sitting on the group W bench with Nader in 2001, nobody would have asked his opinion about invasions/occupations, much less cared.


"This is a wonderful lesson in the way we whitewash figures who harshly criticize America’s conduct in the world."

What do you mean by "we", white man?


COOKIES: George H W Bush started the Gulf War. Bill Clinton kept it going for eight years with periodic bombing attacks and an embargo that his UN Ambassador, Madelaine Albright, essentially admitted on 60 Minutes had taken the lives of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND Iraqi children. She must have been talking for Bill when she told 60 Minutes that 500,000 dead Iraqi children was acceptable because she was later promoted to Secretary of State.

President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore also launched a campaign - on behalf of pharmaceutical companies who had contributed to his and Al Gore's political campaigns and held patents on many HIV drugs - to block Nelson Mandela and the Government of South Africa from using an article in international trade agreements (article 31 of the World Trade Organizations agreement on Intellectual Property known as TRIPS) to force patent holding drug companies to allow them to manufacture cheaper generic copies of desperately needed but incredibly expensive AIDS drugs for the THREE MILLION South Africans reported to be infected with the AIDS virus.

On behalf of Big Pharma they were allowing millions of South Africans to die of AIDS.

The embargo against Iraq and the blocking of affordable AIDS drugs for 3 million infected in South Africa are two of the greatest racist crimes against humanity of our time. I was truly sickened to see Bill Clinton eulogizing the great Muhammad Ali.

PS: If you're thinking of voting for Hillary Clinton, consider that the long time lobbyist who was named as a key player in that criminal campaign against South Africa, in The Guardian's December 19,1999 expose, is John Podesta: Hillary's current Campaign Director. The Clintons have no shame.