WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Copyright © 1967, 1995 by Stan Daniels
Coinciding with the 20th Anniversary of the formal launching of one of the most effective of several ICA youth sports programs was the opening of the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta on July 19, 1996. The selection of Muhammad Ali to ignite the flame of the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch is viewed by many as poetic vindication of several decades of community service by many concerned persons around the planet.
To commemorate this historic event we reprint an article originally published in 1967. Written by the Editor of "INTERCITY SPORTS REVIEW" and "URBAN CARTOGRAPHER ONLINE" and excerpted from "HUMAN RIGHTS & HUMAN WRONGS," it was originally published in "NITE LIFE" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Muhammad Ali has sacrificed and contributed much towards peace, brotherhood, love and understanding among the entire human family.
With this reprint, we merely attempt in a small way to say "thanks!"
Reprinted courtesy of www.icasports.org
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Copyright © 1967 by Stan Daniels
One of the most abused men in the United States today is the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali. If he had been a Jew, changed his name to "Sammy" and refused to eat pork, none of America's good citizens would have objected to him holding the championship -- as long as he could fight. If he was a Catholic priest, and had refused to marry either Sonji or his new bride -- no one would have minded. But, in this "land of religious freedom," the top heavyweight boxer in the country had the NERVE to embrace Islam, under the pastorship of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad!
Not only did this black man become a Muslim -- but he became one of his religion's ministers. Moreover, he stayed in the ring and retained the championship! All this was upsetting enough, but the real earthquake hit when the World's Heavyweight Champion refused to enter the U.S. Army -- he claimed that his religion forbids him to take part in such military activity, and besides he is a minister of that religion. "Blasphemy!" screamed the sportswriters and other "experts" on religion. Like snarling dogs, the living defenders of the "God is dead" movement leaped at the Champion's throat!
How could he "fight" in the ring and not in Vietnam? Why was he so "disloyal to his country?" Why did he change his name? Aren't the Muslims' teachings different than the teachings of "Christians?" All kinds of idiotic, stupid questions by people who were either ignorant, or hate-filled, or both.
Of course the Muslim teachings are different than many of those of so-called "Christianity." So are the teachings of the Jews. And, by the way, which of the "Christians" have the "true-way" -- Catholics, or one of the hundreds of Protestant denominations?
Thousands of people change their names each year in this "land of the free" and nobody lifts an eyebrow. A man named "Geltvasser" ran for President of the United States under the name of Goldwater, yet no-one complained about his name. In spite of the fact that Muhammad Ali's RELIGION changed his name, ignoramuses and bigots continue to deny his name and call him "Cassius Clay" when they KNOW BETTER!!
Is he "disloyal" to "his country?" Well, in America we hear repetitions and variations of the slogan, "God and country." Not "country and God," but "God and country." Even the Declaration of Independence -- that document that "justified" the American revolution -- speaks of the "Laws of Nature and Nature's GOD" and that all men "are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights." Mr. Muhammad is the human HEAD of the religion to which Muhammad Ali belongs. Mr Muhammad has appointed Muhammad Ali as a MINISTER of that religion. Anyone outside that faith has as much right in deciding Muhammad Ali's fitness for the ministry as a Jew has in telling the Pope who to appoint as a Bishop or Cardinal. Those outsiders who criticize Muhammad Ali's religion are about as intelligent as the Atheist who tells a Rabbi how to conduct services in a Synagogue.
The draft laws of the United States provide an exemption for a MINISTER of a religious faith. The law is not supposed to "play favorites." Whether or not Muhammad Ali is "disloyal to 'his' country" should be obvious to the THINKING person!
Some others say, "if he can 'fight' in the ring he can 'fight' in Vietnam." How BLIND can some people get? Since when did the Vietcong "fight" a war with BOXING GLOVES? Who is the knockdown TIMEKEEPER in the swamps of Vietnam? And, somebody PLEASE tell me where the REFEREE has gone because somebody is cheating over there --they're using bullets, bombs and flame-throwers instead of leather! By what RULES is the Vietnam war being fought, and where is the ATHLETIC COMMISSION that supplies the JUDGES to decide the "winners?"
America -- (which gives lip service to "religious freedom") -- tells its residents that they are free to choose their own religion as long as they choose the "right" ones. Don't embrace and practice an "unpopular" religion, or you may lose your "friends," home, job, education or WORLD'S HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP!
What's in a name? If that name is Muhammad Ali, it is the determination of a man to be a man in a land where all Negroes are considered to be "boys" and "girls." Jesus, himself, would be crucified all over again if he came to America and said and did the SAME things that he did "the last time." If you don't believe me, you try it!
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