I loved Muhammad Ali from the time he refused to be inducted into the US Army and, possibly, serve in Vietnam.
And since he died a week ago today, the nation has been pouring its heart out, proclaiming its everlasting love for him. His public remembrance this morning in Louisville was expected to draw so many people that it had to be held in that town’s big basketball arena, the Yum Center.
The truth of the matter is Muhammad Ali was not always the apple of America’s eye. In fact, he was hated as much as Jesse Jackson was in the 1980s and ’90s or Al Sharpton is today. No, scratch that, Sharpton’s old hat and nobody really sees him as a threat to the nation’s continued health anymore. There really isn’t a universally recognized black bogeyman these days, unless you count Barack Obama, but it’s hard to classify him as a bête noire by acclamation especially after he garnered some 135 million votes, collectively, in the 2008 and ’12 elections.
Ali was viewed as a traitor, a revolutionary, and a scary monster by much of white America from the time he dropped his slave name, Cassius Marcellus Clay, back in 1964.
It was only when Ali became a semi-invalid that he was embraced by most of the country, whites included. It wasn’t the first time the people of this holy land transformed a black demon into a beloved figure. Martin Luther King, Jr., was re-positioned as a black Santa Claus after he was assassinated. Malcolm X, if not clasped to white America’s bosom, at least became less petrifying after his execution.
When black men are at their vocal or physical peaks, they scare the hell out of whites. It’s only when they become feeble old men — or corpses — that their paler countrymen can tolerate them.
Kids ‘n Guns
Did you catch this one from a couple of weeks ago? A firearms masturbant named Rob Pincus told a group at the NRA convention in Louisville that the smart family keeps its shootin’ irons in the kids’ room because, in the event of a home invasion, “that’s the first place I’m going to go.”
See, Pincus is imagining himself as a caring, protective daddy-o who, the nanosecond he hears a floorboard creak, is going to dash to little Ashley and Kyle’s room so as to haul out the artillery and defend his blood from the onrushing hordes. Naturally, his pronouncement elicited orgasmic cheering from his pistol-petting audience.
Rob Pincus, Engaging In The Sex Act
Which I find a tad puzzling. I would have figured a crowd of folks made tumescent by guns would have expected a guy like Pincus, the boss of a big firearms training outfit, to have his pieces in bed with him, the more convenient to rub them against his genitals when the urge arises, and to point and fire at whom- or whatever caused that floorboard to creak. I’d have bet they would boo to learn Pincus actually has to move to another room to fetch his arsenal.
Pincus went on to remind his audience that home invasions are as common as mosquitos on a humid August night. Truth is, however, in any given year nearly three times as many adults are killed by their kids who got ahold of their guns as have been killed by home invaders.
Then again, citing sane stats doesn’t sell as many guns as exaggeration does.
Next thing you know, the NRA will be calling for all citizens to have guns surgically attached to their right hands (in the trigger-pulling position, naturally.)
June 10th Birthdays
Hattie McDaniel — The first African-American to win an Academy Award. She was a noted radio singer before she became a movie star. She appeared in more than 300 films but was credited in only 80 of them. Hollywood to this day has not fully incorporated black and brown people into its firmament.
Saul Bellow — Nobel Prize-winning American author. Martin Amis called him “the greatest American author.” As he grew older, Bellow turned decidedly conservative, railing against feminism and multi-culturalism. He once said, “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans? I’d be glad to read him.”
Maurice Sendak — Author and creator of Where the Wild Things Are. An atheist, Sendak once said, “My gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Mozart.”
On this date in 1971, Michael Rennie died. Born Eric Alexander Rennie, he was — and only he could be — Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Another of 20th Century Fox’s contract actors, Claude Rains, was originally slated to play Klaatu but he turned it down, thankfully. Rennie sold cars in England before deciding to become an actor at the age of 26.