Still in the War Years

Thanks to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for reminding me that Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing championship title and imprisoned for five years (instead of the normal eighteen months) for refusing to report for induction into the army for religious reasons. I had forgotten the weight of his sacrifice.

And for this note on shameful President Andrew Jackson:"....the slave-owning, Indian killer general/president had become an early American success story. Penniless at twenty, Jackson saved his money and bought one slave, and struck out over the Cumberland Mountains for Tennessee. He squatted illegally in Cherokee Territory, and because he couldn't afford to buy more than one African slave, he bought a fifteen-year-old girl and sired his own slave laborers."

from OUTLAW WOMAN, A Memoir of the War Years 1960-1975, City Lights Books, San Francisco 2001.

Seems to me like we're still in the war years.

1 comment:

Bill Siegel said...

Hi Joy,
In reference to Muhammad Ali, I thought you might like to see my letter that appeared in The Nation magazine a coupel months ago in response to a book review they printed in April, about Dave Kindred's "Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship". What galls and mystifies me, is that there was a time when famous sports figures (like Ali and Cosell) weren't afraid to speak up -- against the war in Vietnam, against racism, etc. -- and today's spoiled-brat 8- and 9-figure salaried sports "stars" are afraid to even say the word "racist" or to take advantage of the public platform that has been gifted to them and whisper even the slightest dissenting opinion, never mind out-loud outrage.


(from The Nation, Letters to the Editors,June 5, 2006)

Re: Gene Seymour's review of Dave Kindred's "Sound and Fury" ["The Odd Couple," April 24], about Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali:What was so transcendent and also frustrating about these two men is that they were so great at what they did, at who they were, that we all kept forgetting that they were making their millions off a "sport" that consisted of two men pounding each other's faces until one of them was brain-injured enough to fall to the mat for a count of ten. And yet if it were not for this gladiator bloodletting display in our living rooms, chances are nobody would have cared one bit about what either Cosell or Ali had to say about anything. And yet, we cared. Cassius Clay was a childhood hero of my generation; years later, Muhammad Ali became an adult model for so many of us. And Howard Cosell taught us that even the most trivial or mindless sport could be an arena for intelligent exchange and taking strong stands--and to hell with what the sponsors might think.