THE GREAT SPIRIT
“I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people or some poor, hungry people in the mud, for big, powerful America.” “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? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.” “Just take me to jail.” “I don’t have to be what you want me to be.” – – Mohammed Ali
And so a 23 year old black, Muslim man was stripped of his titles, barred from boxing in the prime of his career, labeled a coward and “communist sympathizer” by the press, and sentenced to 5 years in prison by the government of the United States of America. A 23 year old man was condemned by America for doing what was morally right, for being a human soul of courage, dignity and integrity.
After long appeals Mohammed Ali’s sentence was reversed by the Supreme Court and he was not required to serve time in prison. History has since exonerated and even honored him for his actions. But the United States has never admitted the war in Vietnam – and Laos and Cambodia – was absolutely immoral, that it was never about protecting Americans or “freedom” and “democracy.” The United States has never admitted that 45,000 US soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died, or were the ongoing victims of the chemical warfare of napalm and Agent Orange, for the sole purpose of perpetuating an economic ideology. The United States has never admitted that these souls were sacrificed in a vain attempt to impose an exploitive, corporate imperialism upon another people.
In a tragic repeat of history, the US military now serves the goals of corporate imperialism in the Middle East. Mirroring Vietnam, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere have nothing to do with protecting Americans or “freedom” and “democracy.” They have nothing to do with stopping terrorism. Indeed these wars have only spread terrorism and they ignore the historic role the United States played in creating terrorism in the first place. But terrorism is the best friend corporate imperialism has ever had. It has given license to the moneyed masters of America to use the US military to wage preemptive imperialist wars anywhere they choose. It has given license to the moneyed masters of America to deliberately antagonize and create an enemy out of Russia.
If we listen quietly and thoughtfully, if we listen with a deep concern for our fellow man and for planet Earth, we can hear the Great Spirit in Mohammed Ali: “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Afghanis, I ain’t got no quarrel with those Iraqis, I ain’t got no quarrel with those Libyans, I ain’t got no quarrel with those Syrians, I ain’t got no quarrel with those Iranians, I ain’t got no quarrel with those Russians, I ain’t got no quarrel with those Chinese. I don’t have to be what you want me to be.”