The death of the boxer Joe Frazier has given widespread publicity to the toxically derogatory remarks made about Frazier by Muhammad Ali. But Ali’s was no common or garden abuse for it included comments which were unashamedly racist. Here are a few :
“Joe Frazier is an Uncle Tom. He works for the enemy. This was said when Ali criticised Frazier for having a white management team. ” Frazier emphatically replied to this with “A white lawyer kept him out of jail. And he’s going to Uncle Tom me….”
“He’s the other type Negro, he’s not like me… “There are two types of slaves, Joe Frazier’s worse than you to me … That’s what I mean when I say Uncle Tom, I mean he’s a brother, one day he might be like me, but for now he works for the enemy”…
“Joe Frazier should give his face to the Wildlife Fund. He’s so ugly, blind men go the other way. Ugly! Ugly! Ugly! He not only looks bad, you can smell him in another country! What will the people of Manila think? That black brothers are animals.Ignorant. Stupid. Ugly and smelly.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/nov/08/muhammad-ali-joe-frazier?newsfeed=true
Comments such as these were especially ungenerous because Frazier had given Ali money while he was banned from boxing and supported the return top boxing.
Compare those words with Ali’s supposed comment on Frazier’s death:
“The world has lost a great champion. “I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/boxing/8875841/Muhammad-Ali-mourns-the-loss-of-a-great-champion-following-death-of-Joe-Frazier.html). Somehow one doubts those were Ali’s words, not least because his faculties are, judged by his rare public appearances, now very limited.
Since the last of the Frazier fights in 1975 , Ali has supposedly excused his abuse by saying they were simply to sell his fights with Frazier. I say supposedly because these claims have come since he began to suffer from Parkinson’s disease which was probably in the late 1970s when his interviews began to lose their fluency and vitality (see his 1981 appearance on Parkinson when he was clearly finding it difficult to answer clearly and slurring was evident http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7nI_5AoHvc&feature=related), although he was not diagnosed until 1984 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/20/parkinsons-disease-muhammad-ali).
But even if Ali has been mentally capable of making and understanding his rebuttals of his own words, there is the inconvenient fact (for Ali and his admirers) of his many (by the liberal
definition of racism) categorically racist utterances when he was a member of the Nation of Islam. These included:
‘We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.’
“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.’
‘Why don’t we get out and build our own nation? White people just don’t want their slaves to be free. That’s the whole thing. Why not let us go and build ourselves a nation? We want a country. We’re 40 million people, but we’ll never be free until we own our own land.’
‘We’re not all brothers. You can say we’re brothers, but we’re not.’ (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,1072751,00.html)
Ali did not leave the Nation of Islam until 1975 He was making the same separatist statements in 1974 (see An Audience With Muhammad Ali in London 3/5 – go to 4.58 minutes in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu1lNokpdcQ&feature=related) as he had made in the 1971 Parkinson interview (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyoWof4eLCQ
– go in at 19 minutes) and was also vehemently anti-white when he appeared on Parkinson again in 1975 where, amongst other things, he claimed to have “no white friends, only white associates” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA4dKIS4wSs). He was also displaying a strong line of black victimhood in 1981 before his last fight against Trevor Berbick (go in at 40
minutes – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WexHAQRJzgg). In that clip Ali is clearly struggling with his speech and coherence of thought – he gets his own age wrong by several years at one point.
In addition to his deteriorating mental condition from the second half of the 1970s, there is also what might be called the “Muhammad Ali Brand” to consider when asking whether Ali has been responsible for his utterances since the early 1980s. The army of hangers on he was feeding throughout the 1970s – who probably were the main engine keeping him fighting after 1975, including undignified tag matches against wrestlers and karate exponents - did not fade away when he retired. They wanted the brand to continue and black separatist
ideas and anti-white rhetoric were not going to sit easily with the rise of the multiculturalist religion. So when Ali became incapacitated it allowed them the opportunity to remould his image as that of the “love everyone guy”, which was done with great success. The uncritical plaudits and the hours rolled in. Ali’s website lists these awards amongst others these:
• United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1998-2008, for his work with developing nations
• Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the United States of America’s highest civil award
• Amnesty International’s Lifetime Achievement Award
• Germany’s 2005 Otto Hahn Peace Medal, for his involvement in the U.S. civil rights movement and the United Nations
• International Ambassador of Jubilee 2000, a global organization dedicated to relieving debt in developing nations
• State of Kentucky’s “Kentuckian of the Century”
The mainstream media has been no less effusive and adulatory. In 1999 Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/cover/news/1999/12/02/awards/) and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sport/561352.stm).
In February 2012 he will receive an “all-star 70th birthday salute at the MGM Grand“ (http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/nov/04/muhammad-ali-receive-all-star-70th-birthday-salute/).
Compare this fawning treatment by white liberals of a man who for most of his coherent adult life publicly enthusiastically espoused black separatism and was willing to defend uncritically the leader of the Nation of Islam Elijah Muhammad who taught that whites were blue-eyed devils with the response of white liberals to the slightest hint of racism made by a white sportsman towards a black. (It should also be noted that the man who succeeded Elijah as Nation of Islam leader was the even more inflammatory Louis Farrakhan, who was a
senior member of the organisation throughout Ali’s membership) .
In Britain we currently have the England football captain John Terry being given the media third degree because of an alleged single racist insult to a black player Anton Ferdinand with the police investigating the accusation as a hate crime (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/queens-park-rangers/8860484/Anton-Ferdinand-racism-row-with-John-Terry-timeline.html).
Abroad there is the furore over Tiger Woods’ ex caddy Steve Williams who, having been sacked by Woods, told a supposedly off-the-record “caddie of the year” awards ceremony in
Shanghai that his new employer Adam Scott’s win in Shanghai made him feel that he ” wanted to shove it [the win] up that black arsehole.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/nov/05/steve-williams-race-row-tiger-woods). The response has been a tidal wave of mass media horror with many calling for Scott to sack Williams and some hoping openly that it would end his caddying career.
On the face of it the disparity between the white liberal’s treatment of the unambiguous racist (by their definition of racism) Ali and that of whites, who may at worst have made a racist comment either in the heat of the moment (Terry) or at a social gathering which was meant to be private and where one presumes drink flowed freely (Williams), is so stark as to be comical. Ali is treated as a hero with, as the years go by, an ever greater saintly admixture, while Terry and Williams are viewed as though they have committed offences which should put them beyond the Pale.
Why the difference? Well, white liberals have long had a special liking for blacks as their clients, regardless of their behaviour -think of the white liberal’s fawning over Black Panthers in the 1960s and 1970s. Other ethnic minorities may be worthy in the white liberal’s eyes, but not quite as worthy as blacks. Perhaps this favouritism has its roots in the fact of black slavery and the anti-slavers who were the proto-liberals whose descendants feast happily on political correctness today. Perhaps it is because blacks seem less capable than other races to live non-violent useful lives in advanced societies and are thus seen as both most in need of the white liberal’s help and the people on whom white liberal guilt can be most satisfying expended because of the supposed residue of black disablement due to slavery. (It is a little difficult to feel guilt so satisfyingly where ethnic minorities are in a white society are not
so downtrodden or have not been enslaved or even colonised). Perhaps it is simply that blacks look so physically different from whites that white liberal feels most comfortable treating them as clients – for that is what they are – rather than equals, a sort of white liberal Saunders of the River mentality with patronising white Bwana behaviour replaced by patronising faux equality white liberal behaviour.
What the difference in treatment of Ali and Terry and Williams does emphatically demonstrate is the bogus nature of the white liberal’s claimed hatred of discrimination. When the white liberal declaims against discrimination, what they really mean is discrimination is outrageous if it is practised on someone protected by political correctness but permissible when it comes from someone within the politically correct fold. But that permissibility only extends so far, often only to not punishing. When Ali was appearing on talk shows such as Parkinson’s spouting his anti-white, anti-integrationist the attitude of white liberals was to either try to pretend Ali did not mean what he was saying or to treat what he was saying as a joke. They were in fact patronising him. Since Ali’s illness, white liberals have been only too happy to go along with the line that Ali no longer believes, or even ever believed, in black separatism or white devils, because that was the most comfortable thing for them to do and his racist past has gradually faded to almost nothing in the public consciousness. The result is that the vast majority of Ali admirers today have no idea of what Ali’s views on race once were.
If Ali was a young boxer now, just making his way, would he still be able to spout doctrines of racial separation and proclaim whites as devils? It is a moot point. But those who think
times have changed too much for it to be tolerated now, should reflect on the fact that Farrakhan still gets public exposure in the USA without any real difficulty. Even in Britain racist outbursts by blacks in the public eye are still treated with remarkable equanimity by the white liberal elite. Take the black Labour MP Diane Abbott. In 1996 (she was already an MP) she complained about the employment of “Blond, blue-eyed, Finnish nurses “ rather than Jamaicans in the NHS, yet was neither expelled by the Labour party nor deselected as an MP. More recently in 2010 she described David Cameron (the British Prime Minister) and George Osborne (the British Chancellor of the Exchequer) as “posh white boys” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1280358/Diane-Abbott-race-row-calling-Cameron-Clegg-posh-white-boys.html). Not only did this provoke no outcry from politicians or the media, Abbott was allowed to continue to run for the Labour leadership – the fact that she was running at all was the result of the other candidates not wanting it to be an all-white contest and of the leading contender David Miliband urging some of his supporters to sign her nomination papers.
It is a truly bizarre thing that white liberals should have as one of their great icons a man who, when he could speak freely and coherently for himself , was someone who held opinions which would get any white man or woman drummed out of town.