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When Muhammad Ali took the real heavy weight June 25, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in History, Racism, Vietnam, War.
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Posted on June 22, 2011 by shyammael, http://centreofthepsyclone.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/when-muhammad-ali-took-the-real-heavy-weight/

In an era defined by endless war, we should recognise a day in
history that wasn’t celebrated on Capitol Hill or in the White House. On
June 20, 1967, the great Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston for
refusing induction in the US armed forces. Ali saw the war in Vietnam as
an exercise in genocide. He also used his platform as a boxing champion
to connect the war abroad with the war at home, saying: “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?” For these statements, as
much as the act itself, Judge Joe Ingraham handed down the maximum
sentence to Cassius Clay (as they insisted upon calling him in court):
five-years in a Federal penitentary and a $10,000 fine. The next day,
this was the top-flap story for the New York Times with the headline:
“Clay Guilty in Draft Case; Gets Five Years in Prison.”

The sentence was unusually harsh, and deeply tied to a Beltway,
bipartisan consensus to crush Ali and ensure that he not develop into a
symbol of anti-war resistance. The day of Ali’s conviction the US
Congress voted 337-29 to extend the draft for four more years. They also
voted 385-19 to make it a federal crime to desecrate the flag. Their
fears of a rising movement against the war were well-founded.

The summer of 1967 marked a tipping point for public support of the
Vietnam “police action”. While the Tet Offensive, which exposed the lie
that the United States was winning the war, was still six months away,
the news out of south-east Asia was increasingly grim. At the time of
Ali’s conviction, 1,000 Vietnamese noncombatants were being killed each
week by US forces. One hundred US soldiers were dying each and every
day, and the war was costing $2bn a month.

Anti-war sentiment was growing and it was thought that a stern rebuke
of Ali would help put out the fire. In fact, the opposite took place.
Ali’s brave stance fanned the flames. As Julian Bond said, “[It]
reverberated through the whole society. … [Y]ou could hear people
talking about it on street corners. It was on everyone’s lips. People
who had never thought about the war before began to think it through
because of Ali. The ripples were enormous.”

Ali himself vowed to appeal the conviction, saying: “I strongly object to
the fact that so many newspapers have given the American public and the
world the impression that I have only two alternatives in this stand –
either I go to jail or go to the Army. There is another alternative, and
that alternative is justice. If justice prevails, if my constitutional
rights are upheld, I will be forced to go neither to the Army nor jail.
In the end, I am confident that justice will come my way, for the truth
must eventually prevail.”

Already by this point, Ali’s heavyweight title had been stripped,
beginning a three-and-a-half-year exile. Already Elijah Muhammad and the
Nation of Islam had begun to distance themselves from their most famous
member. Already, Ali had become a punching bag for almost every
reporter with a working pen. But with his conviction came a new global
constituency. In Guyana, protests against his sentence took place in
front of the US embassy. In Karachi, Pakistan, a hunger strike began in
front of the US consulate. In Cairo, demonstrators took to the streets.
In Ghana, editorials decried his conviction. In London, an Irish boxing
fan named Paddy Monaghan began a long and lonely picket of the US
Embassy. Over the next three years, he would collect more than twenty
thousand signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of
Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title.

Ali at this point was beginning to see himself as someone who had a
greater responsibility to an international groundswell that saw him as
more than an athlete. “Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some
bloodthirsty people. I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from
Kentucky. I belong to the world, the black world. I’ll always have a
home in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Ethiopia. This is more than money.”

Eventually justice did prevail and the Supreme Court overturned Ali’s
conviction in 1971. They did so only after the consensus on the war had
changed profoundly. Ali had been proven right by history, although a
generation of people in Asia and the United States paid a terrible price
along the way.

Years later upon reflection, Ali said he had no regrets. “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. And I made a stand all people, not
just black people, should have thought about making, because it wasn’t
just black people being drafted. The government had a system where the
rich man’s son went to college, and the poor man’s son went to war.
Then, after the rich man’s son got out of college, he did other things
to keep him out of the Army until he was too old to be drafted.”

As we remain mired in a period of permanent war, take a moment and
consider the risk, sacrifice, and principle necessary to dismantle the
war machine. We all can’t be boxing champions, but moving forward, all
who oppose war can rightfully claim Ali’s brave history as our own

Dave Zirin

The More Things Change… May 11, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in War, Women.
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  Cindy%20Sheehan

(Roger’s note: this article caught my attention for two reasons.  I have for some time been using the phrase “Plus ca change … you can believe in” to characterize the Obama presidency.  Further, I always stop to read anything under the byline of Cindy Sheehan, whom I consider to be one of the most courageous and patriotic of Americans.  It is clear that her son’s death has caused her unfathomable grief, but instead of internalizing and being paralyzed by that grief, it has become a springboard for her to work tirelessly to the end that other mothers do not have to suffer what she has.  In a sense she has politicized her grief into a no-holds-barred struggle to analyze, understand and combat the ugly, avaracious, parasitic and bloodthirsty government-led war machine that on a wholesale basis takes the lives of mothers’ sons on all sides of any conflict.  She has achieved political wisdom and sophistication, which she often expresses in the most simple yet profound way.  For instance: “I guess many people still believe to love one’s child who has been wrongfully killed in war, means one has to support that war and the lying American presidents? I didn’t buy it in 2004, and I buy it even less now.”).  She has been slandered and maligned but she keeps on keepin’ on, and she remains a hero in my book).

 

I think many of us know the origins of Mother’s Day were for Peace and a universal declaration that we mothers won’t send our children to die in wars or to kill the children of other mothers.

 

“Angelique and Child” by Edna Hibel 

 

Even though we have always been a genocidal, war-like culture, we have gone so far afield from the original meaning of Mother’s Day it’s ridiculous! Now it’s a day that’s a boon for Hallmark cards and long distance phone carriers. We American mothers are still sending our children off to die in Robber Class wars and to kill the children of other mothers.

 

For my part in being co-dependant with the Robber Class in its wars for imperial profit, I am “celebrating” my sixth Mother’s Day without my oldest child, Casey. No matter what the right-wing spin-doctors like to accuse me of: I do love my son and he loved me.

Just because I think the leaders of his country betrayed him and his good intentions, does not diminish our love. I guess many people still believe to love one’s child who has been wrongfully killed in war, means one has to support that war and the lying American presidents? I didn’t buy it in 2004, and I buy it even less now.

 

Because of my campaign for Congress, I have been operating in high drama-trauma mode for months now, but everything was put into perspective to me this week when my surviving son, Andy, fell very ill and was put into intensive care. He had an astronomically high fever and his liver and spleen were enlarged and the doctors were operating on the theory that he was ill with hepatitis or lymphoma. All of the previous stress became very minor compared to having an extremely sick child. For the first time since Casey was killed, I had a hard time getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other.

 

I am thrilled beyond belief to report that Andy (who is thankfully not one of the 50 million Americans without health insurance) is much better and has been moved out of intensive care to a regular room and looks like he is moving on the road to full recovery: the liver biopsy showed that there was no cancer or hepatitis and he probably has been suffering all week from a bacterial or viral infection.

Even though I don’t have Casey with me this Mother’s Day, I have my other son, two daughters and a wonderful grandson.

 

In spite of all of the challenges of my daily life, I am so blessed. I am beyond blessed when I think of all of the mothers in US-war torn countries that have lost far more than I have.

 

No matter what you personally think of our new president, the Robber Class wars for profit are continuing as bad or even worse than during the last regime and mothers are still losing their children all over the world by and for the empire.

 

Again, the Robber Class wars for profit will never end as long as we in the Robbed Class allow our children to participate.

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