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Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali’s Real Legacy: True Patriotism

Muhammad Ali’s Real Legacy: True Patriotism

  • Ivan Eland Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty, The Independent Institute
Although it is customary to say nice things about a person who has died, Muhammad Ali has been rightly commended for not only his superb boxing career but also his principled opposition to the then-popular Vietnam War. Unlike later chairborne hawks, such as Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney, Ali did not try to evade the draft or get numerous college deferments to avoid service. He declared that because of his religion, he would not fight against people who had done nothing to him and bluntly said, “just take me to jail.”
Therefore, it is difficult to argue that Ali avoided the war for selfish reasons, because the costs of non-compliance with the draft were substantial. If the Supreme Court had not nullified his conviction 8-0, he would have served five years in prison. Although he ultimately avoided losing his liberty, he had to give up his heavy weight boxing title and experienced financial hardship as a result.

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