Archive for June, 2016


Muhammad Ali.

He was a very complex man–generally a forthright, honest man with a touch of artful boastfulness that was both audacious and endearing.

And he was known as much for his political and religious convictions as his genius in the boxing ring.

He was born Cassius Clay, but changed his name after converting to Islam.

Many, if not most Black Muslims in the United States are not true Muslims because they downplay, if not dismiss Muhammad as the Last Prophet (Messenger) of God.

But who am I to question Muhammad Ali’s faith?

For all I know, Muhammad Ali’s Muslim faith was true–that he believed in both parts of the core creed of Islam:  There is but one God, and Muhammad is his Messenger.

And given this, it is interesting that most Christian Americans are so much more familiar with Muhammad Ali than with Muhammad.

Yet I cannot help but think of the disturbing hypocrisy of it all.

Muhammad Ali was both a Black American and a Muslim American.

Before the Civil Rights Act was passed, and White Americans began to realize that they had so much more in common with Black Americans than they had previously thought, Black Americans had to really prove themselves–they had to prove to White Americans that they truly were equal, in every way, to White Americans.

Most notably I think of Marian Anderson.  Marian Anderson was a Black American contralto–with an incomparable singing voice.

She was not a civil rights activist at all–she chose a different way of “breaking the color barrier.”  The Daughters of the American Revolution–though quite familiar with Ms. Anderson’s incomparable voice–denied her access to Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., simply because of her race.  But First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt got word of this–and let Marian Anderson sing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, instead–before thousands of astonished White Americans.

Black Americans–like Marian Anderson–proved themselves in the arts.

And Black Americans–like Cassius Clay–proved themselves in sports.

Yet even among many White Americans today–not necessarily racist, but somewhat bigoted–Blacks are not okay unless they’re sports heroes.

Sometimes this even works in reverse.  Many Black Americans–and some White Americans–truly believed that O.J. Simpson could not have possibly committed murder because he was such an ingenious athlete–and astute sports commentator.

And in the 2008 Presidential Election, as many Black American voters turned out as in the 1960 Presidential Election (Kennedy-Nixon).  And 97% of these Black Americans voted for Barack Obama–simply because of his race.  In fairness, many White Americans voted against Obama, simply because of his race.  But racial bias exists in all races–and we must recognize it within ourselves.

Even for racially bigoted Whites, Cassius Clay was okay because he was a sports hero.

In the same way, even for religiously bigoted Christians, Muhammad Ali was okay because he was a sports hero.

There is bigotry in all human beings–there always has been, and there always will be.

And it is essential that we examine our human frailty, and ask ourselves:

If this person’s race is okay because he is a sports hero–how come others of his race are not okay?

And if this person’s religion is okay because he is a sports hero–how come others of his religion are not okay?



Magnificent, wasn’t he?

Beautiful–and even somewhat majestic.

Looked so human-like, too.

I don’t like animal rights activists–they tend to place the needs of animals above the needs of people, ever failing to realize that people are animals.

Nevertheless, animal rights activists are right in holding the parents and the zoo responsible for the death of Harambe.

Ironically, this wouldn’t have happened a century ago–maybe even a half-century ago–because zoos were zoos then, and the animals were kept in child-proof cages.

Yet those cages were inhumane, to say the least–expanding zoos into zoological parks was more humane.

But these more humane zoological parks–in which cages have been replaced with craters surrounded by moats–require more security.

And that Cincinnati Zoo spokesman is just wrong–the fact that a four-year-old boy was able to get into that gorilla enclosure is proof that it wasn’t secure enough.

And that child’s mother is wrong too–this was not an accident.  On the video she is heard reassuring her son that everything will be alright.  What she should have been doing, instead, was screaming at the top of her lungs, “Help–my son has climbed into the gorilla enclosure!”

Yes, I know a four-year-old boy is hard to keep up with–I was a four-year-old boy. A four-year-old boy is even more curious than a cat–yet hasn’t learned that curiosity killed the cat.  A four-year-old boy requires an abundance of guidance and supervision.  And most mothers know this–my mother would have never let something like that happen to me.  Neither would my father.

I wasn’t there–but I’ll bet that woman was glued to a goddamned smartphone at the time her son crawled into the gorilla enclosure–those goddamned mobile devices are making negligent parents out of even the best of parents.

The zoo was negligent–and still is.

The mother was negligent–and still is.

But if these problems with negligence are corrected–what then?

Zoos make a positive contribution to society–people are able to see the endangered creatures they’re encouraged to protect.  And animals that are endangered in the wild are able to be bred in captivity–as Harambe was.

The same is true with aquariums–people are able to see the endangered creatures they’re encouraged to protect.  And animals that are endangered in the wild are able to be bred in captivity.

Yet it seems to me that Harambe would have been a lot better off being given the chance to take his chances with others of his species in wild West Africa–a lot better off than ending up dead because of a zoo’s and a parent’s negligence–and the negligence of bystanders so quick to make videos of the ordeal, with their goddamned smartphones, yet completely averse to doing anything to save both the child and the gorilla from harm.

Wild creatures belong in the wild–not in captivity.

We can enjoy zoos and aquariums while they last–but it’s best if we start thinking ahead to a time when we’ll all visit wild creatures in their wild world, rather than goggle them in captivity in our dysfunctional world.



Fran Drescher