Editorial: Mixed message to end Black History Month

By The Herald Editorial Board

In his Saturday radio address, President Trump closed the month as he started it — by talking about Black History Month, this time after a recent visit to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

“I left that museum confident that together, America can overcome any challenge,” Trump said about the inspiring visit he made with his nominee to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, and his family, the Washington Examiner reported.

A welcome presidential message. But then he mentions Muhammad Ali.

As reported by the Washington Examiner: “Using a quote from boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Trump said black leaders of the past, like Ali, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King ‘shook up the world’ for the better for their roles in the fight for civil rights.”

Using a quote from boxing legend Muhammad Ali on the same day the U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that it held Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the late boxer, for questioning in a Florida airport earlier this month, but denied Ali was singled out because he’s a Muslim? Really?

Chris Mancini, a Florida lawyer and friend of the Ali family, told the Louisville Courier-Journal Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were pulled aside for questioning at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 while returning from a speaking engagement in Jamaica, USA Today reported.

Mancini said they were detained because of their Arabic-sounding names, and Ali Jr. was repeatedly asked, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”

Ali Jr., who was born in Philadelphia and holds a U.S. passport, told customs officers that he is Muslim, said Mancini, who added that the questions asked of Ali Jr. are indicative of profiling, USA Today reported. Mancini and the Ali family are considering filing a federal lawsuit over the incident.

“To the Ali family, it’s crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the United States,” Mancini said Friday, referring to President Trump’s executive order signed Jan. 27 that barred people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Was President Trump really unaware of these events when he invoked Muhammad Ali on Saturday? For the record, the quote Trump mentions, “I shook up the world” is part of a series of boasts made by Ali after he beat Sonny Liston in 1964; it’s not in reference to civil rights.

Here’s another quote from an older, wiser Ali.

When asked how he felt about the suspects in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sharing his Islamic faith, as reported by CNN: “What’s really hurting me, the name Islam is involved, and Muslim is involved and causing trouble and starting hate and violence. … Islam is not a killer religion. … Islam means peace, I couldn’t just sit home and watch people label Muslims as the reason for this problem.”

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