For Suddeath, “Draft evasion dampens memories of Ali.”


Overall in his opinion piece, the last reporter to cover the New Albany city beat 259 days ago prior to relocating to Glasgow to serve as editor for yet another CNHI chain entity … um, where was I?

Right: Suddeath does as balanced a job as could be expected in weighing the experiences of the generation drafted to fight in Vietnam.

DANIEL SUDDEATH: Draft evasion dampens memories of Ali

While Ali certainly deserves respect and acknowledgment for his courage in the face of racism and his pure athletic talent, his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War and some of the subsequent comments after his death by those attempting to justify his decision do not stir heroic sentiments in my book.

But he gives the game away in the header, and it’s an object lesson about why language matters. Suddeath uses neither “conscientious objector” nor “draft dodger,” both nouns describing persons, but with radically different meanings. He refers instead to “draft evasion” in the sense of the action taken — artistic, though it still clearly suggests what side the writer is about to take.

Let’s review Muhammad Ali’s statement at the time. Suddeath fails to mention that the US military was desegregated only after World War II.

Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.

Then there’s this point of view (thanks GS).

Muhammad Ali was no draft dodger, but here are a bunch of famous people who were, by Jack Hunter (Rare)

… But Ali didn’t “dodge” anything. As Rare’s Tom Mullen explains, “Ali never dodged the draft; he opposed it, accepting the legal consequences without any attempt to evade them.” “He didn’t flee to Canada or enroll in college to obtain a deferment,” Mullen noted. “From the moment he learned of his induction, Ali stood firmly in the proud tradition of civil disobedience, saying ‘just take me to jail.”