It’s safe to say that President Trump is throwing a pardon party. Earlier this week, he commuted the sentence of 63-year-old grandmother Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. Reality star Kim Kardashian 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 to attend the G-7 summit in Canada, the president told a group of reporters that 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 had no criminal convictions that need pardoning.
Though he was convicted of evading the draft during the Vietnam War in 1967, the Supreme Court overturned that decision in 1971. The boxer was cleared of all wrongdoing. Furthermore, in 1977, former President Jimmy Carter pardoned all people who had 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, metaphorically rolling its eyes with memes and snippy comments. Others also called out the president on his apparent hypocrisy. Why was the president so willing to pardon, or forgive, an African-American athlete whose legacy includes protesting racism while at the same time condemning modern African-American athletes who are currently protesting racism?
Do not be deceived by this Trump rope-a-dope on Muhammad Ali. How can you pardon a black athlete for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War and then call another black athlete a "son of a bitch" who takes a knee to protest police brutality? https://t.co/JPESrzD9Oc
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 8, 2018
Colin Kaepernick inherited the torch from Muhammad Ali and is now our most important black athlete activist. Downright laughable that Donald Trump wants to pardon Ali (SCOTUS unanimously reversed conviction!), yet Kap is a “son of a bitch” who “maybe shouldn’t be in the country.”
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) June 8, 2018
It's comically appropriate in its stupidity and hypocrisy that President Trump is considering pardon for Muhammad Ali (actually there's no conviction to pardon) while railing and raging against players like Colin Kaepernick. Remember what Ali was (at first) convicted of.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 8, 2018
According to Trump an athlete who refused to serve in the military during a war deserves a pardon from a conviction that was already overturned, but athletes who protest by sitting on a knee are "sons of bitches" and unpatriotic.
I commend Muhammad Ali but don't be a hypocrite
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) June 8, 2018
Peak Trump?: In a week in which he portrayed Eagles players as unpatriotic for not standing for the national anthem – they did – he says he might pardon Muhammad Ali, who went to jail rather than going to war because of his beliefs. Fame, it seems, conquers all.
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) June 8, 2018
A couple things on Trump saying he might pardon Muhammad Ali:
1. Ali's conviction was overturned so he doesn't need one.
2. This notion of giving privilege/clemency to one member of an oppressed group while holding the group down is as old as racism itself.
3. Ali KNEW THIS. pic.twitter.com/17WqGsBzPa
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) June 8, 2018
In addition to the fact that Muhammad Ali doesn’t need a pardon, Trump’s logic is bizarre. He’s willing to pardon Ali for the very same resistance for which he’s castigating NFL players.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) June 8, 2018
Muhammad Ali: Was a popular black athlete, protested against racism and the Vietnam War
Colin Kaepernick: Is a popular black athlete, protests police brutality and systemic racism.
Trump doesn't make sense, as always.
— Denizcan Grimes (@MrFilmkritik) June 8, 2018
If President Trump wants to honor Muhammad Ali, he can start by respecting the rights of athletes to peacefully protest. A pardon is NOT necessary.
— maryum ali (@maryum7) June 8, 2018
Watch: Kim Kardashian got through to Trump; now Twitter wants her to lobby for other political issues:
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