Two Left Hooks: Sports Illustrated and ESPN Mags Use Ali Tributes to Push Idea of Evil America

June 18th, 2016 12:18 PM

Showing the continuing conflation of big-time sports journalism and liberal activism, Howard Bryant's tribute “Ali Everlasting” for ESPN Magazine, in the June 27 issue of the biweekly (not online), used the boxing legend as a tool to condemn American racism and inequality. Meanwhile at Sports Illustrated, lefty journalist Charles Pierce bashed the former Cuban embargo for "shredding" the Cuban economy:

He was hated by white America for his unsparing criticism of its obvious, enduring racism, a conversation no more welcome today than it was in 1963. He was hated by blacks and whites alike for challenging the military, for questioning the necessity, morality and inherent racism of war, and in response the American government used its full weight to try to destroy him. He was hated for challenging Christianity as a Muslim in America, yet in death he is mourned as if yesterday’s struggle has been long resolved and defiance is no longer necessary.

It wasn’t all hagiographic; Bryant devoted a paragraph to Ali’s cruelty toward rival Joe Frazier: “He knew the implications of calling another black man a ‘gorilla,’ and he did it anyway.”

But Bryant turned back to the real enemy: The United States and its hatred of “defiance” and Muslims, and its “increasingly intolerant culture.”

[America] will admire his religious conviction without recognizing our collective hostility toward Muslims. It will honor his courage, yet discourage us from questioning, as he did, the wars we fight, the government that spies on us or the fact that we forget our poor. It will celebrate his defiance while defiance is precisely what our increasingly intolerant culture is going out of its way to crush.

That must be why there was absolutely no aggressive anti-war movement during the Bush years, no howls about “income inequality” or marches for a $15 minimum wage, and no tolerance for "defiant" leftist disrupters on college campus. There is certainly “intolerance” on today’s college campus, but it emanates from the left toward the few conservatives who dare to set foot on one.

Lefty journalist Charles Pierce made the back page of Sports Illustrated on Ali’s massive, celebratory funeral in Louisville (not online): “The Greatest Comes Home.” Pierce’s piece for the June 20 issue was not as drenched in politics as Bryant’s tribute, until he met Erasmo Pino at the corner of Ninth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard:

Seventeen years ago, when he was 20, Pino won a lottery that allowed him to emigrate from Cuba to the United States. He was a gifted volleyball player who’d risen through the regimented national athletic program that Cuba had modeled after the one in the Soviet Union until he was good enough to play internationally and also to become a coach. But the Soviet Union collapsed and, with it, what was left of the Cuban economy that hadn’t been shredded by the embargo that the United States had dropped on the island.

So it was the U.S. embargo -- not the abject, proven historical failures of Communism --that “shredded” the Cuban economy? And why would a Communist success story like Cuba, with its charming American cars from the ‘50s and quaint rations for egg and milk, have to be propped up by the evil Yanqui dollar anyway?