Saturday, June 4, 2016

On Muhammad Ali

I never watched a single boxing match in my life. I haven't read any books about Muhammad Ali, some of which are considered classics in certain circles. I don't feel much affection for him, nor any particular dislike. In one hundred years, when boxing becomes like football and animal-eating, an example of twentieth-century America's savagery, historians will care most about his fraught relationships with Malcolm X and Elijah Mohammed and his insanely badass decision not to go to Vietnam. The Superman comic will be a curious artifact. They may watch his entertaining interviews with William F. Buckley and Dick Cavett. They probably won't remember his sickeningly racist trash-talking of Joe Frazier and his photo-ops with Hafez Al-Assad. Very few people will be able to sit through footage of his performances in the ring. As historians of the future try to explain the weirdness of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century's racial politics, they will point to Ali as an interesting curiosity, a figure who in the 1960s befriended the greatest black nightmares of white America, who refused to be the good little Negro, and eventually, in the middle of America's disastrous adventures in the Muslim world, earned the unquestioning admiration of George W. Bush.

That's my guess at least. History has a way of killing its heroes.

No comments:

Post a Comment