Once upon a time, the President of the United States had to be smart—or at least have access to Google or a librarian to research basic facts. But in the current world, Trump bizarrely babbled today that he would “pardon” the legendary Muhammad Ali. While talking to reporters at the White House this morning, he mentioned more potential pardons, saying, “I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali. The pardons are a very positive thing for a president. The power to pardon is a beautiful thing.”
There is no conviction on Ali’s record that needs a pardon.
Anyone who knows their American history would know that in 1977, President Jimmy Carter gave blanket amnesty to draft evaders. But even before that, in 1971, the Supreme Court reversed Ali’s conviction for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War.
In opposing the war, Ali famously said in 1967, “If I’m gonna die, I’ll die now right here fighting you, if I’m gonna die. You my enemy. My enemies are white people, not Viet Congs or Chinese or Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. You won’t even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs, and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won’t even stand up for me here at home.”
Also, let’s not forget that Trump dodged the draft five times.
If Trump is so concerned about righting wrongs like Jack Johnson or Alice Johnson, then why doesn’t he start with people he has wronged? There is the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully accused of assaulting a white woman in Manhattan. Trump took out a full page ad in the New York Times in 1989 calling for their conviction. Even when they were exonerated in 2014, he still said they were guilty.
How about apologizing for claiming President Obama threatened American democracy by claiming he wasn’t born in this country? Also, how about an apology to Colin Kaepernick for highhandedly trying to ruin his career because the former NFL player exercised his First Amendment right?