|Was appearing with Stallone the real reason for the president granting a pardon to Jack Johnson?|
Either that, or he’s just like many other political people who get all ga-ga when in the presence of professional athletes and likes to do things that bring him into their world.
I CAN’T HELP but come to that conclusion after Trump’s actions of recent weeks – one in which he granted an outright pardon to the one-time heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson.
And another on Friday where he said he’s inclined to grant another pardon to a more recent vintage heavyweight champ – Muhammed Ali (a.k.a., Cassius Clay).
Trump did the Johnson pardon last month, literally holding an Oval Office ceremony to publicly sign the clemency into law. He was surrounded by Johnson family members (Jack is long deceased), professional boxers and actor Sylvester Stallone.
Who has portrayed boxer Rocky Balboa in countless films throughout the decades.
|Does Trump want to share in Ali glory?|
I SUSPECT THAT for Trump, the real reason for doing the pardon was that he got to appear in news photos with Stallone – and Stallone can claim he’s involved in the real world of boxing. Similar to how in 2016, actor Charlie Sheen tried to get to throw out the first ball at a World Series game because he once played a Cleveland Indians pitcher in a movie.
Now that he got positive press for the Johnson pardon, he’s seeking out another boxer to grant clemency to. Hence, Ali. Does this mean he’ll try to find reasons to someday grant clemency to boxer Mike Tyson, or any other boxer who got into legal troubles?
If you get the impression that I think these legal actions by Trump are pointless, you’d be correct. Specifically because I don’t doubt some people will try to use the Johnson pardon or similar acts as evidence that Trump is somehow sympathetic to the concerns of black people.
|Johnson pardon -- better late than never?|
They’re meant to counter the impression held by many that Trump is the president of choice for the bigoted segment of our society. Without him actually having to do something that would make a difference in the lives of non-white people.
IN THE CASE of the Johnson pardon, there’s no doubt that his conviction on violations of the Mann Act were a crock – that law was the way prosecutors criminalized interracial relationships. Johnson wound up serving prison time and went through the rest of his life with a criminal record. Will Trump someday consider a pardon for rock ‘n’ roller Chuck Berry (who died last year) for his Mann Act conviction?
To do something now all these years later (at 72 years, he’s been dead longer than he lived) truly fits the definition of the absolute least Trump could do for Johnson, whose life ended with the taint of a racist-motivated conviction.
Although a part of me thinks that his talk related to Ali qualifies as even less action.
Ali, who died in 2016 at age 74, was found guilty for refusing to comply with the military draft during the Vietnam War and got a five-year prison sentence.
HE APPEALED THE case, and in 1971 the Supreme Court of the United States overturned it. Sparing him prison time. The fact that he had a conviction was the reason his boxing career was stalled for a few years, until he won back the Heavyweight Champion title in 1974.
|BERRY: Another Mann Act conviction to address?|
In short, the legal system dealt with Ali’s conviction while he was alive and gave him back his career. He also had a post-boxing life that saw him rise to exalted levels in society. Which is why attorneys representing Ali’s interests are saying Trump’s actions are “unnecessary.”
They reek of Trump being a political opportunist, trying to bring some of the modern-day Ali glory to himself. While doing nothing that would impact Ali’s actual life.
All of which strikes me as Trump making gestures he thinks will appease people without upsetting the sensibilities of those who think these past racial injustices are actually evidence of the “America” that Trump wants us to go back to as his vision of “Making it Great Again.”