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in defense of Ali

Reader comment on item: Muhammad Ali's "Beautiful Soul"

Submitted by a Filipino liberal (Philippines), Dec 5, 2005 at 04:09

I would like to respond to some of the points raised in this article and the previous one. Although the article has gathered much more support for its target (Ali) than the previous ones, there are still quite a lot of people who were ready and willing to fire their own shots at him.

We have such good people as Ube R. Patriot, who says that he "thought the US's highest honors were reserved for folks who drop bombs and shoot missles (sic) and kll (sic) en masse. We need to keep it that way", implying that he actually thinks this is alright. When the entire world is fed up with US aggrssion and bellicosity - surprise! - suddenly we see there are Americans who really believe that's the right thing to do. (When a country's highest honors are reserved for "people who kill en masse" and its citizens support that, what does it say about that nation?)

Anyway, one of the points was about Ali's "draft dodging". Well, in the first place, I don't really believe in the draft. It's counterproductive. If people really want to defend their nation, then they'll volunteer. And in the second place, I think it's only acceptable to use the draft in a defensive war, which the Vietnam War wasn't. Ali's objection to the war was based on his belief that Muslims should not take part in any wars not sanctioned by Allah. This makes him a conscientious objector, which, for all the Ali-bashers out there, is permitted by the US government.

But even if we don't count that reason, there are still quite a lot of reasons for any person not to take part in that war. But maybe the Ali-bashers have a point. Maybe Ali should have joined this war, a war which was fought by the US in order to preserve the French colonial regime in Indochina, a war that was fought to protect US economic interests in Indochina and squash Communism, a form of government that posed a threat to capitalism, a war that was fought to bring down Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist who had the best interests of Vietnam and its people at heart, a war that was fought to support a corrupt dictator who persecuted Buddhists (apparently, if asked to choose between a Communist and a dictator, the US would prefer the dictator - yet another sign of their twisted priorities.) Maybe they do have a point.

I am reminded of an article I read in Readers's Digest. The author was a protester against the war while it happened, but much later he realized that he should have fought in the war first, then protested later - meaning that he still thought the war was wrong. Well and good. But I think he should have stayed with his original beliefs. (For your information, I do not believe in what Stephen Decatur said.)

Another point was about Ali's sexual adventures. To which I respond: any sexual attitudes he may have had, whether they are right or not, are really irrelevant compared to his stand on war, terrorism, and other issues, which was the focus of the other points. Before you say anything more about this, I might remind you that in the 60s and 70s, Martin Luther King, Jr. himself was targeted by by blackmail and slander in a smear campaign by the FBI, then headed by John Edgar Hoover himself, who made tapes showing King's purpoted "marital infidelities" in order to intimidate and discredit him. And of course, we know now that King was really a good person, or don't we?

- My country, right or wrong. - Stephen Decatur

- My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right, when wrong, to be put right. - Spiro Agnew
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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