The country has continued to mourn the loss of a legend. For so many people, Muhammad Ali was an inspiration because of not only his sports accomplishments, but personal ones as well. He was a defiant figure who held firm to his convictions even when things got tense. But this was also apart of the appeal of Ali. He didn’t waiver.
But less than twenty four hours after he passed away, a Tennessee State Representative took to social media to trash Ali and stomp on his image because of his views of the Vietnam War.
Muhammad Ali was selected to enlist in the military during the Vietnam War, but he resisted the draft. What separates him from draft dodgers is he wasn’t opposing joining the conflict because of any cowardly reason. It wasn’t about buying his way out of danger, fleeing to another country, or snaking his way out by navigating the system.
The Vietnam War was at odds with his conscience and because of that, he resisted. Ali then didn’t flee the country, he stayed and defiantly told the government to arrest him for it. He stood by his principles and was willing to face the consequences.
State Representative Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) stated however that failing to enlist in the military was a black cloud over him:
It’s interesting coming from a political figure who on his Twitter profile describes himself as being “Big on the Constitution, Guardian of Freedoms, an Anti-bureaucrat, A Privacy and Government Watchdog.” That description alone would lead one to believe he would support Muhammad Ali’s objection. Vietnam was an undeclared conflict after all, which means our involvement was not in compliance with the Constitution.
The Constitution is clear on the power to declare war with Article 1, Section 8 stating “Congress shall have power to…declare War.” The last time Congress formally declared war was in World War 2. Everything since has been a mere conflict not in compliance with the Constitution.
Representative Daniel then slammed Ali for sitting “warm and cozy in the USA.”
Ali lost his boxing licenses and did not fight for a three year period. During this time, he worked the appeals process all the way up the Supreme Court.
It’s interesting that some self-described believers of the Constitution and freedom support the draft. Conscription is not compatible with the principles of freedom and even if it was, the Vietnam War was not an issue that directly threatened America or it’s interests. It was a contest of political hubris between two global superpowers engaged in a war of words.
Americans died because Congress failed to properly vet the conflict with the lack of a formal declaration. Americans died because of the political hubris of leaders within the federal government who had to score points against the Soviet Union.
Is communism itself incompatible with the principles of freedom? Absolutely. But the founders were weary of a standing army of any sort and would certainly be unsupportive of the United States becoming a global police force.
Supporters of the military should be opposed to some of our country’s bravest souls being sent off to get hurt and die for another country’s conflict. It’s wrong, and this is the point that Muhammad Ali made when he objected to being drafted.
How is this unpatriotic?
After revelations over the years have called the Gulf of Tonkin incident into question, with the entire narrative of the Vietnam War being unraveled, we should be asking ourselves as a nation what these brave soldiers died for. What’s unpatriotic is what happened in Vietnam, when soldiers were sent into harms way for goals that were not relevant to the interests of the United States and not in compliance with our laws. Brave American soldiers died because of the government’s eagerness to go to war.
This is where Representative Daniel fails to grasp the real reason why Ali objected to the Vietnam War and being drafted into it, as well as what America truly stands for.