Richard Moore: Attack will push Trump case

By Richard Moore

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Muhammad Ali had a spirit of steel.
Muhammad Ali had a spirit of steel.

Most of the Americans I have met are great people. Kind, generous and good folk.

I am engaged to one.

She and her family are delightful. All are funny and dinners together are filled with laughs, intelligent conversations and good times.

Occasionally things may get lost in translation but, overall, we understand each other.

They are liberal Democrats and if I wish to stir my gal up a bit I say I still can't understand how she voted for the Republican party's one-braincell president George W Bush - twice.

Despite her sense of humour, that is a joke that she does not appreciate.

Nor does she find the current Republican poster boy Donald Trump to be a laughing matter.

She says he will never be voted in for president in a way that is worrying - because she doesn't say it with iron conviction.

And who can blame her, because you just have to listen to the deep political thinkers of conservative America to know that inside their jingoistic brains the neurons are not firing like they should.

Now over the weekend we had the awful incident in Orlando, Florida, where a lone gunman entered a gay club and killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 50 others.

In a nation that has a mass shooting seemingly every week, it stands out because it is the deadliest in US history.

The perpetrator could have been a wacko Christian religious nutter wanting to end the lives of gay people, but turned out to be an Islamic nutter who wanted to kill gay people. American gay people.

Terror group Isis has claimed responsibility and that will push Trump ever closer to the White House, as attacks like this will only worsen the paranoia among some groups of Americans.

And those same folks will demand America close its doors and call for even more freedom when buying up guns.

The right to bear arms is enshrined in the US Constitution but one would suggest "arms" could be limited to handguns - with six bullets each - not automatic assault rifles with magazines that hold 30 rounds each.

Larger magazines mean killers have to stop firing to reload less often and gives law enforcement officials much less chance to shoot them.

When news of the massacre broke Trump showed some decency when he said on Twitter: "Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop?"

But then, in my view, he showed he what kind of person he actually is when he followed up with: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"

I'm not sure the guy knows how to show empathy.

Meanwhile in the past week we saw the passing of a truly great spirit. An American once known as Cassius Clay.

Born poor in Louisville, Kentucky, this kid raised himself up through talent, courage and sheer bravado to become a household name around the world.

His fame was as boxer Muhammad Ali and he was a dazzling talent. Fast of foot, fists and mouth, The Greatest was a showman who could back up his words of tongue-in-cheek self-praise by doing what he said.

He would predict the round in which he would knock opponents out and would then go on to do so.

His record was outstanding. He fought 61 fights and won 56 of them. Knockouts featured in 37 of his bouts and he lost only five times.

He won an Olympic boxing gold medal and was world heavyweight champion three times.

Ali was also a Muslim - having converted as a young adult - and this, together with his support for black civil rights, really peeved the US establishment.

When he refused to be drafted into the US Army and fight in Vietnam in 1966. He said: "I ain't got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong ever called me nigger."

He was arrested, prosecuted and stripped of his boxing titles. An appeal to the US Supreme Court overturned his conviction, but four of his prime boxing years had passed.

But Ali's biggest fight was to come against Parkinson's Disease and he battled that awful condition with grace and dignity.

In 1996 he was the man who lit the Olympic cauldron at Atlanta, showing to the world how his spirit of steel could will on his shaking, weak arms and legs to one of the greatest displays of courage I have seen.

I remember thinking was this the champion boxer I ran miles home from school to see fight on the tele? This shaking shadow of his former self?

Oh, yes, I told myself. This is one of the greatest spirits to live in this world. He fought poverty, racism, hatred and the US Government to become one of the most respected people of the 20th century.

He floated like a butterfly, he stung like a bee...

- Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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