Ali: Medal winner, hero or just a fake?

I was reading Philly.com today (yes, I do read other newspapers and check out other websites) and I saw that they ran an editorial concerning the selection of former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali to receive the 2012 Liberty Medal.

Judging by the responses to the editorial I found two very interesting things: first, most people don’t think Ali was the best choice and second, the Liberty Medal has become somewhat of a joke.

Let’s address the second thing first.

The first Liberty Medal was awarded in 1989 and its past recipients include Nelson Mandela, Sandra Day O’Connor, Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev. Nice company there. Add Colin Powell in there and the list stays strong.

Throw in CNN International and Bono and I would have to agree that the medal has at times gone a little off course.

Add Ali to the list and you should expect an uproar.

Here’s the deal in a nutshell:

Ali forty years ago or more refused to fight the Vietnam War. In 1967 he declared himself a conscientious objector. Now you can argue that Ali converted to the Muslim faith and made the choice not to go to war based on his religious beliefs.

Or you can say he was an arrogant, self-absorbed pro boxer who was probably afraid of one, getting shot and killed in a land halfway around the globe or two, knew the interruption in his boxing career was going to cost him millions.

Now the Ali supporters will say he deserves the medal because he stood up for his religious principles while his non-supporters will call him a coward and say his decision could have cost one more U.S. young man to be killed or wounded.

Here’s the Philly.com editorial:

“The selection of boxing legend Muhammad Ali to receive the 2012 Liberty Medal has sparked debate, given his refusal four decades ago to fight in the Vietnam War. But his standing up for religious principles only makes the award more appropriate.

“The boxer known more now for his advocacy of civil rights at home and abroad has been an ardent promoter of world peace and humanitarian causes. A sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, he also has helped raise funds for the Special Olympics and for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Research Center in Phoenix.

“As a conscientious objector in 1967, Ali demonstrated attributes that make the case for his being the choice of the National Constitution Center to honor a person who has exemplified values that this country holds in high regard.

“His decision to refuse induction came after Ali had converted to the Muslim faith and changed his name from Cassius Clay Jr. He was subsequently stripped of the heavyweight boxing crown. But Ali held firm to his convictions and eventually won a lengthy legal battle to have his boxing license restored. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court voided his five-year prison sentence for draft evasion.

“Ali not only regained his heavyweight boxing title; he rose to even greater heights among sports giants in winning several legendary matches, including the so-called “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975 against Philadelphia boxing great Joe Frazier. Ali retired from the ring in 1981.

“Ali, 70, will receive the Liberty Medal in a Sept. 13 ceremony. His wife, Yolanda, is expected to make remarks on behalf of Ali, whose speech has been affected by Parkinson’s.

“First awarded in 1989, the prize’s recipients include Nelson Mandela, Sandra Day O’Connor, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bono, and Colin Powell.”

I suppose my being cynical comes from my impression of anyone in Hollywood or pro sports who says they stand for anything. They to me are all mostly full of bull. They’re taking one position one day and something different the next. It’s all about fame and fortune.

I have met and known lots of men and women who have served our country. I respect all servicemen and women, firefighters and cops. I made sure someone took a picture of me and a member of the NYPD on my recent trip.

And I know if I was asked to serve my country I probably would not have and not because I was using religion as an excuse. I would have honestly said I would be scared to die. And that’s wrong I know. But I would have been honest and said that – or if I was Ali I would have said I’m afraid to die and also I will lose millions.

But that sort of position and stance would never earn you the respect of your fellow man and certainly not a medal.

So there you have it. Ali a hero or fake? Only you can decide.

— Andy Hachadorian

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About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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14 Responses to Ali: Medal winner, hero or just a fake?

  1. Chris says:

    Heres a crazy thought. Maybe he genuinely thought the war was wrong(and not just for religious reasons). Remember his comments about not wanting to kill poor people in another country for a country that wouldnt extend full rights to blacks in his own? Nah, hes just a spoiled athlete whose afraid to get shot at. Hes not allowed to have a legitimate opinion on political issues. Unless hes Curt Schilling perhaps?

    Off topic, but why do you allow race baiter “Original Nick” so much ink in your paper? I get why you have a bunch of far rightwing editorials, and one(maybe 2 at most) fake/barely leftwing Fox News “liberal” in Ruth Marcus to keep up the appearance of airing all views. Most papers do the same unfortunately. But “Original Nick” is actually one of the reasons I refuse to pay for the DLN and only read it when I find a copy at work.

    FYI-not a “flaming liberal” here, I have some “conservative” views and some “liberal” views, some “libertarian” views etc. So I’m not grinding a partisan ax like the DLN appears to be with its editorials and with the reader comments it prints in the paper. I sent a letter to you guys more than once and wasnt printed. No big deal. I’ll just have to swing more to the right next time I guess.

    • Chris says:

      My comment didn’t make the cut? Just like the paper!

      • Chris says:

        Yeah, I made it! And it wasn’t even a boilerplate Republican party talking point! Who ultimately picks which comments make the cut in the paper? Their agenda is fairly obvious. No offense if thats you.

      • Actually there is no agenda here at all — despite what you may think. I and others here don’t look at topics in a political party sense, but by what is common sense. We let some of our editorial writers go at times but contrary to decades of historical whatever it is our readers like to think, I have been here since 2005 and my philosophy is to take a position that makes sense and is fair, not a Republican or a Democratic position.

      • Chris says:

        Do I need to list your own editorial writers for you? Or perhaps point out that a clear majority of the comments you post are of the Republican shill variety? Its your paper, do what you want. But dont pretend like you are not pushing a clear partisan agenda. Its painfully obvious.

      • Well, since I work here and know who writes what and when, I would respectfully disagree. But that’s OK. I appreciate your comments and will pass them on to those who do write our edits.

      • Chris says:

        Karen Porter cant possibly be the only “leftwinger” to send letters to your paper. Yet she seems to be the only caricature, er, I mean person whose comments you post that comes from that angle politically. Why is that? I assume its because she makes a good foil for the Republican ax grinders you typically post.

      • We accept letters from anyone who’s a reader as long as they’re not personal attacks by nature or contain vulgar language, etc. And they must follow the word limits, etc. Feel free to write one — I will publish.

    • Not sure where all the anger comes from but here’s your comment printed. I don’t care if people agree with me or not. Your opinion is as valuable as anyone else’s…

      • Chris says:

        You’re the editor of the Daily Local News. Surely you’re used to anger by now,lol. And I don’t think its that “angry”, at least not for me. Just some constructive criticism is all. Sure, I would like if my local paper was more than just Fox News light-print edition but what can I do about it but criticize? Thomas Sowell is abysmal by the way. At least Cal Thomas will occasionally stray from the pre-set talking points, even if I still disagree with him.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m off to work now but I genuinely appreciate you passing my comments onto those who handle the editorial page. Talk to you later.

  3. Chris says:

    One more thing though, when I speak of the editorials I’m talking about the professionals like Cal Thomas and Ruth Marcus and others. Not the editorials on local issues by local people. My complaints are mainly with the political stuff,

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