Attorney Hassen Abdellah, my colleague and erstwhile radio co-host (www.RadioTahrir.org) had just returned from the jenazah service for Muhammad Ali in Louisville. Abdellah and I plan an hour-long radio special this Wednesday at 7pm on a local radio station (www.wjffradio.org). It would be an opportunity to share Hassen’s testimony, to talk about sports and social activism, and to dialogue with listeners about the great, departed Muhammad Ali.
The full impact of Sunday’s mass shooting at an LGBT club in Florida has not yet hit America’s public consciousness; be assured however, it will soon be taken over by the monster anti-Muslim anti-immigrant machine here. That horrible and saddening event in Orlando will surely feed Donald Trump’s alarmism and his campaign against Muslims. It will provoke even the most tolerant and patient to reassess their positions.
Before Wednesday evening, our WJFF station director may cancel the planned program. If not, how can we proceed with our celebration of Muhammad Ali in what will doubtless be a volatile atmosphere when the media begin their attacks? I am unsure how we can handle it.
Most troubling is how this kind of disruption, interruption and diversion from our essential activist and educational agenda occurs with awful regularity month after month for decades. Whether a dictator’s dangerous whims, or a raging Zionist campaign, The Hague tribunal’s pursuit of selected war criminals, a careless remark by an inarticulate member of our community or by a Muslim head-of-state, a lop-sided TV debate with a media-illiterate Arab spokesman, a PLO miscalculation, a school textbook with too much truth about Palestinian history, humdrum statements by our talented writers decrying violence and reminding the public what we are not –always what we are not— never getting to what we are; daily bombings in our homelands, young talented journalists assigned to cover war and suffering rather than education, architecture or literature, relentless accounts of hardships endured by any Muslim woman, kidnapped schoolgirls, flogged journalists.
It’s so hard to maintain our noble agenda— to follow the sisters’ proud declarations at last week’s beautiful memorial: “I Am Muhammad Ali”.
Stay tuned Wednesday evening (www.wjffradio.org). Pray that Allah awards us the patience and journalistic prowess we so need moving forward.
Meanwhile consider setting aside a few hours to view the 2 hour, 15 minute procession of Ali’s final journey through his hometown in Kentucky
and the full 3 hour memorial service
(now distributed –co-opted, as always–by NYT but originally filmed, I believe, by Fox10 TV Phoenix, Arizona).
Then decide for yourself what Muhammad Ali signifies and can still give meaning to.