The price of disobedience

Remember this cover?

muhammad ali3

Muhammad Ali as Saint Sebastian, martyred for refusing to go to Viet Nam. When the magazine arrived in 1968, I couldn’t stop looking at it. The image said everything about the price paid for opposing a ruling power. In June, 1967, two months after being convicted of draft evasion, Ali said:

“My conscience won’t let me shoot my brother or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud, for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger.”

Amen

Saint Sebastian, d. 288. Early Christian persecuted by the Romans. A popular saint, especially among soldiers and athletes who often wear his medal.

Saint Sebastian, d. 288. Early Christian persecuted by the Romans. A popular saint, especially among soldiers and athletes.

3 responses »

  1. I admired Ali for his refusal to serve in Vietnam. All of us who were against the war thought it a brave and honest response. He could have moved to Canada, but stood his ground and took responsibility for his decision and his actions. A hero of nonviolence turns out to be a boxer. How’s THAT for irony.

    Reply
  2. Boy have my opinions and thoughts about this time and this issue evolved through the years. Ali’s reasons for not joining our nation’s armed forces to fight in the Vietnam War were articulated as I wish I had at the time, without the caveat regarding being called a nigger as I am a white man. On the other hand, even today there are some I can’t forgive for dodging the draft like Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton. What I clearly cannot forgive is our country entering that war, for what were the reasons? It was another manifestation of the power and influence of the military/industrial complex in our nations policy decisions. The scary part is that that source of influence on our nation’s decision making has not gotten less influential but more.

    Reply

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