It’s safe to say that President Donald Trump is throwing a pardon party. Earlier this week, Trump commuted the sentence of 63-year-old grandmother Alice Marie Jones, who was serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense. Reality star Kim Kardashian personally petitioned the president for her release, and was successful. Johnson was reunited with her family after 22 years in prison.
Following the good deed, Trump announced plans for other presidential pardons on Friday. Just before boarding a plane in route to the Group of Seven summit in Canada, the president told a group of reporters he is considering the pardons of 3,000 people, including one legendary athlete.
“I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well, and he went through a lot and he wasn't very popular then," Trump said. "His memory is very popular now. I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously."
Well, Trump couldn’t be too serious about pardoning the late boxer, who died in 2016. Ali has no crimes that need pardoning.
Though Ali was convicted of evading the draft for the Vietnam War in 1967, the Supreme Court later overturned that decision in 1971. The boxer was cleared of all wrong doing. Furthermore, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned all persons who dodged the Vietnam War draft.
Ali’s lawyer released a statement saying, “We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”
The internet was quick to call Trump out on his historical flub, rolling it’s eyes with memes and snippy comments. Others, however, also called out the president on his apparent hypocrisy. Why was the president so willing to pardon, or forgive, an African American athlete who’s legacy includes protesting racism, while at the same time condemning modern African American athletes who are currently protesting racism?