In a recent piece from the English tabloid Daily Mirror Online, columnist Brian Reade emphatically states that Kentucky-born Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali, is a better American than Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
When I read this bold headline on my news feed, I couldn’t help but think about what I knew of Ali growing up.
I always knew he was a great heavyweight boxer, who said something about stinging like a bee. I also knew he changed his name after joining some black Islam movement, and suffered from sort of disease that made him shake.
The main thing I remember, even as a young boy, was his hatred of white people. My people.
The first time I really looked back at the history of Ali was after he was named Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Century.” The former champ also earned the title “Sports Personality of the Century” by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and numerous other humanitarian accolades.
Surely this guy was getting a bum rap if he earned such high honors from all around the globe. How could a white-hating Muslim be revered as one of the best? He must have been misunderstood.
Then I began to read some infamous quotes from the champ. He was brash and confident, but he was also blatantly racist and anti-American, and also publicly dodged the Vietnam War draft. And for some reason, he is thought of as some sort of hero.
Here are just a few examples of Ali’s perspective of the world.
“You’re my enemy. My enemy is the white people.”
“We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad (leader of the Nation of Islam) don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man.”
“My leader is Elijah Muhammad who preaches the doom of America.”
“All Jews and gentiles are devils… Blacks are no devils… Everything black people doing wrong comes from [the white people]: Drinking, smoking, prostitution, homosexuality, stealing, gambling: It all comes from [the white people].”
What a guy.
Ali now claims he is no longer a member of the Nation of Islam and has even negotiated the release of Americans with Saddam Hussein and traveled to Afghanistan as the “U.N. Messenger of Peace.”
Trump, who has been a leader of the non-politically correct movement in this country, said America has a “Muslim problem.” He called for the banning of all Muslim immigration to the US after the Paris attacks. He is calling for a tougher and more strenuous background check on all Muslims because of the threat of ISIS activity.
Ali condemned Trump’s statements, reiterating that Islam is a religion of peace. That’s quite a turnaround from a man that once believed so strongly in segregation.
So, is Ali a better American than Trump? You be the judge.