I was away over the weekend and so I missed how much things escalated until reading Chris Hatton’s blog. Sorry for being oblivious to irony by DM’ing you when in the throes of an “argument” about transparency, but there comes a point when you must say fuckem.
Here’s the thing, on Saturday my most favourite athlete of all time passed away. Muhammad Ali. The Greatest. The series of photographs of 22 year old Cassius Clay standing over Liston is on the wall in the spare bedroom, a framed poster from the release of When We Were Kings hangs above the mantelpiece. He’s always been The Top Man to me. Always will be. Not just to me though, to all of us. But there’s a dirty little thing regarding Muhammad Ali that is never really discussed,
“Ali has been absorbed by the establishment as a legend — a harmless icon. There is barely a trace left of the controversial truth: There has never been an athlete more reviled by the mainstream press, more persecuted by the US government, or more defiantly beloved throughout the world than Muhammad Ali. There is now barely a mention of this Ali, who was the catalyst for bringing the issues of racism and war into professional sports.”
How does this relate to the HOOHAH regarding Justice For LB and Mencrap?
Muhammad Ali only become accepted by The Establishment, by *THEM* when he could no longer speak. When he no longer had a voice. When he no longer had A VOICE. I don’t know about your Muhammad Ali, but my Muhammad Ali was a cocky black man who stuck two fingers up at The Establishment and said,
“I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger… Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?”
If Muhammad Ali was a 21st Century boxer he wouldn’t have allowed his medals to be stripped from him. He wouldn’t have stood up for his principles (if indeed he had any to begin with) and he wouldn’t have allowed the prime of his career to be destroyed in protest. He would have compromised or more likely he would have lawyered up.
Mencrap are the very model of a 21st Century organisation. They have allowed themselves to be co-opted by The Establishment, that is how they can justify having Stephen Crabb MP as a Patron (*only* of a branch doncha know) in DMs no less – some shit never washes off. And that is how they can have some crappy provision whilst attacking other organisations regarding crappy provision. This is WHY CHANGE NEVER HAPPENS. Those who should be the Voice Of Change become subsumed by the system and can no longer effectively challenge it.
Elon Musk has a very powerful phrase “going back to first principles”, when a project or a campaign is challenged and eroded (as happens over time) – do we compromise our position? And where? Sometimes we MUST compromise our position, we’ll die without it – but, as campaigners, if we compromise our FIRST PRINCIPLES we might as well be dead.
Mencrap has completely compromised its first principles. It was founded by people like us, like Sara Ryan – parents of children with learning disability in order to give
their our children a voice. I’ve never met Sara in real life and we actually only connected on Twitter just before Connor died. But Connor could have been my son, in some ways he is my son. He is our son. Mencrap could’ve been founded by me and you as parents. Would you have allowed it to abandon its first principles? I wouldn’t. Muhammad Ali wouldn’t. You fight for what is right, and if you don’t – you’re either a sell out – or worse, a collaborator. And no amount of pink and purple branding will erase that.
All I know you is can’t be a rebel or a radical and beloved by The Establishment that you are opposing at the same time. Unless you lose your voice. And just because you do good work in other areas, it doesn’t mean you can’t be criticised.