When Muhammad Ali, arguably the best boxer of all times, refused to go to Vietnam, his decision shook America more than his punches shook his opponents. The U.S. government promptly exiled Ali from boxing at the height of his career.
Now, Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky wants to honor the Greatest by naming his bill to end Selective Service after him.
Here is what Paul had to say about this:
“One of the things I liked about Muhammad Ali is that he would stand on principle even when it was unpopular. The criminal system I say now has a racial justice disparity. Selective service had a racial disparity, because a lot of rich white kids either got a deferment or went to college or got out of the draft. So I’m opposed to Selective Service. I agree with Muhammad Ali. If the war’s worth fighting, people will volunteer.” (Washington Post)
The man born Cassius Clay refused to serve in Vietnam in the late 60s, saying that war with Viet Kong was against his personal beliefs and admonishing the United States for sending bombs and soldiers against the people in Vietnam while African Americans at home were being mistreated.
As a result of this, Muhammad Ali was arrested, stripped of his title, and his boxing license was suspended.
Speaking against the war, Ali said:
“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 and denied simple human rights?” (Mediaite)
It would take several years before the decision was overturned. During this time, Ali spoke at colleges and universities all over America, often to crowds of several thousand students. Finally, in 1971, as the public opinion considering the war in Vietnam completely changed, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned his conviction by an 8-0 vote.
What do you think about Rand Paul’s idea to name the bill to end Selective Service after the People’s Champion? Let us know your opinion in the comments below and don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.
(Photo courtesy of The U.S. Army, Flickr CC BY 2.0)
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