Unquestioned perception leads to reality
I feel that quote motivates a lot of my posts.
This idea of not questioning what is presented to us as fact can breed misunderstandings and ultimately fuel lies and ignorance. It worked for the Catholic Church for centuries, worked for Jennifer Lawrence’s career (see here for an explanation ), and has worked well for the organic fruit industry. But I also feel it has worked for Muhammad Ali.
For the last 3 days, all media, from sports to national news, have covered the passing of Muhammad Ali for their 24-hr news cycle. All reports claim he is a hero to all mankind and we all line up rank and file and bow to the Ali monument.
Any kind of idol worship outside anything that directly involves me makes me uneasy.
I’ll let the mainstream media deify Ali, so you can read all about his greatness from their sites. I want to offer something different.
So let’s look at a small list of not-so-great moments from this man:
After winning the gold medal in 1960, only to throw it away in the Ohio River
He constantly belittled his opponents with name-calling such as calling Sonny Liston a ‘big ugly bear’ over and over again, calling George Foreman a ‘Gorilla’, and calling Joe Frazier and ‘Uncle Tom’ and ‘stupid’ over and over again. What other athlete can get away with calling a man a gorilla? Remember when Cam Newton called Ndamukong Suh ‘Donkey Kong’ Suh? He got nailed over that. And that was 2014!
He dodged the Vietnam War and took a pacifist stand (funny how a boxer would do such a thing)
He was very outspoken about interracial couples: ‘No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.’ And ‘A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman’.
Some of his thoughts on homosexuality: ‘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]’
Some more thoughts on the white man: ‘It’s a fact that white people hate black people’. Funny, he still allowed Angelo Dundee, the top trainer in boxing, and Howard Cosell, the #1 voice in sports, into his inner circle. Hmmm, wonder why…..
What does MLK think of him? Well: ‘When Cassius Clay joined the Black Muslims he became a champion of the racial segregation and that is what we are fighting against.’
There are more quotes, but you get the idea.
His extreme viewpoints are obviously a byproduct of a time in the US where racial turmoil was at a peak. He was an angry man who demanded change in the country. He performed many charitable deeds that will echo throughout generations. The list of good does outweigh the list of bad. He was beloved around the world.
So is he a bad guy? Of course not. Is he a racist? Ehh, not so sure of that either. Does he hate America? At one time he certainly did. Dis he have an uncontrollable ego and hurt many people along the way? That is very true.
He can be a hero to you and that is fine. He is just not a hero to me. To me, he is a man who did some great and inspiring things, but also a man who was void of humility, berated and hurt others to promote himself, and expressed some views that I would at best call questionable. His charisma made many people forgive and overlook some of the things he has said and done over the years (I mean the US Olympics Board gave him another medal, let him light the torch at the 1996 games, and we all just ate it up like regurgitated pap without question). I am not sure if he was a sinner or a saint. Maybe both. Maybe neither. But he is flawed, just like every one of us.
Finally, ‘Greatest Ever’? Ehhhhhh, 56-5 is not the greatest ever. Just watch the Larry Holmes fight if you disagree. Yeah, he had early Parkinson’s, but you can’t be that bad at 38 and be called the ‘Greatest’. Just because you call yourself the greatest doesn’t mean you are. Remember, unquestioned perception leads to reality: I’ll take Joe Louis over Ali.