Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Muhammed, Mahmoud, and Celebrity Spokesmen

Taking on another opponent, former Heavyweight champion of the world Muhammed Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) is demanding that Iranian "president" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad release American hikers who were arrested for trespassing nearly two years ago.

The world should stand by the imprisoned hikers. The President of Iran is an evil man for holding them captive. An evil man for even greater reasons, Ahmadinejad has not back-tracked from his desire to wipe the nation of Israel "off the face of the Earth," a threat which he is more likely to carry out as Iran gets closer to developing nuclear weapons.

But is Cassius Clay the right man to be denouncing the Persian head of state? Who does he think he is, anyway? And is he doing more harm than good by being made a spokesman in this conflict?

Let's recap some events in the eventful life of Muhammed Ali. An arrogant boaster, he roared on national television, "I'm the king of the world, I am the greatest, I’m Muhammad Ali. I shook up the world, I am the greatest, I'm king of the world". He then refused to enter the draft for Vietnam, flagrantly disobeying the call of his country. He was subsequently stripped of his Heavyweight Title. Nature has taken its toll on the once-proud man. Now suffering from Parkinson's Disease, he cannot even take care of himself.

Ali has not authority to speak out on on the Iranian issue or any other international questions. His character, his past actions, and his current irrelevance question any credible explanation as to why the media deigned as newsworthy his reproach of President Ahmadinejad.

Generally speaking, celebrity spokesmen are irrelevant. They deprive the subjects of their commentary of any relevance either by tarnishing the matter with their questionable reputations or distracting their public from the important issue with their celebrity.

For example, it's not enough that scores of people are dying under an oppressive regime (Sudan). George Clooney as influential humanitarian must be mentioned, preferably with him on the cover of some weekly magazine holding a starving child in his rippled arms. No matter how devastating the political oppression and violence that is terrorizing the Sudanese, the world is paying more attention to the A-list actor.

It's not enough to inform the public that young mothers are unduly pressured to end the lives of their unborn children. People care about abortion when teen-idol Justin Beiber makes an aside about it in an interview with Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, if anyone catches the remark, Beiber accidentally crowds it out with his nonchalant tolerance of premarital sex and praise for the Canadian Health Care System. After that interview, the media at large spent more time being shocked about the fact that the Beiber shared a controversial point of view. No one considered the fate of the unborn or the pregnant minors who bear them. No one in the media admonished their readers to do anything about the problem.

Because of celebrity-spokesmen, we spend more time preoccupied with the messenger, ignoring the message, and remaining oblivious to any mandate to do something.

It would have been better if Muhammed Ali kept his mouth shut about President Ahmadinejad. Even if he shared something as frivolous as "2 + 2 = 4", Ali is putting himself in a role which he does not deserve. As a result, we end up debating the merits of his opinions instead of seeking the long-term safety of the American hikers held hostage in Iran.

For this reason, the mainstream media should not lend itself to broadcasting relevant views through irrelevant, inconsequential, or incredulous spokesmen like George Clooney, Justine Beiber, or Muhammed Ali. Let the newsworthy elements in this troubled age speak for themselves.

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