In his continued effort to pander to the black community ahead of what promises to be an abysmal midterm election cycle for Republicans, Trump today teased a posthumous pardon for famed boxer Muhammad Ali.
As usual, Trump failed to do his homework. While Ali had been convicted for violating U.S. Selective Service laws by refusing to enlist in military service during the Vietnam war, naming himself a conscientious objector to the conflict on religious grounds, on June 28, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed Ali’s conviction.
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Furthermore, President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket amnesty to all draft evaders on his second day in office in 1977.
In other words, there is nothing to pardon. Even Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweel, said that while he appreciated Trump’s sentiment, “a pardon is unnecessary.”
Trump had previously pardoned another black boxer, the late Jack Johnson, who had been charged in 1913.
Of course, if Trump truly wants to pander to the black community, he could consider pardons or sentence commutations for any of the millions of black Americans currently incarcerated for low-level drug crimes. Or even supporting re-enfranchising individuals who have served their time, a staggeringly disproportionate number of whom are people of color.
Of course, it’s little skin off his back to issue a posthumous pardon – especially one that is wholly unnecessary – as some convenient exhibition to point to in claiming that he is not racist.
But with a beyond dismal approval rating in the black community, people of color are clearly able to see beyond his disingenuous pandering.