GOTR 1: Scenes 29-33

Recalling Muhammad Ali's Vietnam War Resistance in the Age of Trump | The  New Yorker

Scene 29

Sonja is getting ready for a night out singing her song ‘Here I am Here I Stay,’ enter Muhammad Ali & Herbert Muhammad

What are up to, girl

I’m going out

Looking like that

But you are my wife
A Moslem wife, you look like a tramp

Say what

Your pearls are looking like bags of white puss
Mascara’d eyes like pits of the abyss
Your lipstick’d mouth looks like it’s just bleeding
Your perfume’s got the stench of common whores

I can’t believe you’re saying this, baby

The Nation of Islam does not approve
Of such a flamboyant prostitution

I’m not married to the Nation, am I
I’m married to my husband

Herbert’s right
Go get chang’d

No, my sister’s married soon
& tonight’s her bachelorette party
I can’t miss that

You can still go, but dress’d

What, the boring garb
You make me wear to mosque, I’ve sacrific’d
So much for you, my love, but not my soul
I like to sometimes make myself pretty
For shining outside makes me shine inside

You shine the white man’s light in that attire

Herbert Muhammad, I have told you once
Imperious pleasance does not please me
Please do not interfere in my marriage
In the same & foul fashion that you feast
Oon my husband’s finances, you’re nothing
But a craze-ass’d, radical splinter group
Preaching segregation, just when the blacks
Are winning integration

Enough! Stop!
Never address the Messenger’s Son
In such unruly fashion, hold your tongue
& listen to your husband, you will not
Go out, dressing like that, dress’d like a tart

Hell no – I’m off to my sister’s party
& I aint no bird in a gilded cage
I’m spreading wings & flying out tonight
& my head-dress & veil aint won’t drag my tail
There aint nothing you can do about it
I aint afraid of the Messenger’s Son
Or what you did to Malcolm X, not me
I’m going out, & I’ll be back by twelve
& babe, I’ll wake you up when I return

Exit Sonji

There is something you can do about it
In the face of a woman’s defiance
Donning adultery-seeking fashions
A husband, with the blessing of Allah,
Might divorce his wife

What, divorce Sonji

It might be for the best

But I love her

Mortal love is nothing next to the love
A Muslim should give Allah, nor is she
A Muslim either, what she is is this
An embarrassment to you in all ways
To us & to the Nation, doesn’t fit
& despite being fully inducted
Into our tenets & beliefs, she fails
To follow them, a fraudulence which proves
Your marriage is a sham, then let it be
Anull’d, my friend, with noble conscience firm

{breathing deeply}
So be it

Good, you will not regret it

MA is left deep in thought / enter Bundini Brown

Bundini Brown
Hey, man, why the long face

Oh it’s nothing

Bundini Brown
Well, whatever it is, compar’d to this
Things have just got a heap of crap worse

Why, what does it say

Bundini Brown
You’ve been drafted


Bundini Brown

Say what

Bundini Brown
It’s the army
You’ve been call’d up to fight out in Asia

Lemme see that… no way, aint doing it

So many black men are dying in pain
For nothing but a White Man’s conquerings

The phone starts ringing – Bundini answers

How can they do this to me, my career
Is zipping to its zenith, I can’t go
To Asia, I am the world’s champion
The pinnacle of my sports existence

Bundini Brown
Hey, Muhammad, it’s Channel 4 news
They wanna ask you something

Give it here
Yeah… I just receiv’d it… what do I think
I don’t know nothing about Vietnam
War Hawk or Peace Dove, none of that matters
I got no quarrel with the Vietcong
No Vietcong ever call’d me nigger
{hangs up}

Bundini Brown
What did you just say

What my heart dictates

You’ve just gone & set a spark to something

Better some social explosion in the States
Than frag grenade in some dark paddy field

Bundini Brown
Brother, please, remember Elvis Presley
A spot in army did him no harm
You could entertain the troops or something
Boxing exhibitions at the bases

But Elvis was not Muslim, war to whom
Is a savage attack upon godhead
I’ll not be murdering another man
& cannot support anyone who kills
Innocent folk napalming villages
This hypocritic nation makes me sick
Like World War Two, just twenty years ago,
Fighting a racist enemy abroad
While segregating its own brave soldiers
No, no, I want to serve Humanity
Not slay a single sharer of the smile
Which marks us out as Humans

Bundini Brown
Alright, man

Phone rings again

Yeah – this is he, me, yeah I’ve heard the news…
Why should me & other so-called negros
Travel ten thousand miles to shoot bullets
& drop bombs on other brown-skinn’d people
Who have done nothing at all against us
It is an unjust & unholy war…
Keep on asking me, no matter how long
On the Vietnam War I’ll sing my song
I aint got no quarrel with the Vietcong
{Hangs up}
Let’s get out of here, don’t wanna answer
The phone every minute
{phone rings}
See what I mean

Let’s get to the office, it’s more secure
I think there’s gonna be a jackal pack
Of shrieking reportage on this story

Yes brother, lets go

Alright my brother

Bundini Brown
Let’s get out of here

Exit Herbert, Bundini & MA

Scene 30

Louisville / a news crew is interviewing white people

Cassandra Kelly
Hello, this is Cassandra Kelly
For KY News, Louisville, Kentucky
It seems that our Heavyweight Champion
Cassius Clay, is set to dodge the draft
So we thought we’d head down to Mo’s Diner
In the heart of the city, get the gist
Of what the good people of Kentucky
Think about his stance, so Mo, hi


Cassandra Kelly
Can you tell us what you’re thinking

Well, ehm
Cassius Clay, if you can hear me now,
You’re naught but a cowardly, turncoat rat
& if I’d a bomb I’d blow you to hell

Cassandra Kelly
Alright then, now this is Peter Sumner
What are your thoughts upon Cassius Clay

Peter Sumner
Cassius Clay aint better than my son
Who’s out there fighting now with my blessing
& fighting for America, I’m proud
To say he’s mine, some of his friends
Want to come talk to you, for thine own good
Discrediting all good Kentuckians
Has not sat well in Louisville, no way

Cassandra Kelly
Thank you Peter – & Russel Smith, right

Russel Smith

Cassandra Kelly
Your reaction

Russel Smith
He’s just a fanatic
Someone should stiff a fist in his big mouth
Curtailing all the bullcrap from his cult
The whole thing’s as sorry a spectacle
As those unwash’d punks who demonstrate
Against the war, all that crap he’s saying
About being Moslem, he shouldn’t fight,
Because of his religion is nonsense
When America’s honour is at stake
The First Amendment should never be used
They should force him in the army today
& once sign’d up just line him by a wall
& shoot him on the spot for cowardice

Cassandra Kelly
thank you xxx
Well, hello, Deputy Sheriff Murphy
What are your thoughts upon the current curve

DP Murphy
Can I talk directly to the cam’ra

Cassandra Kelly
Go ahead

DP Murphy
Cassius Clay, listen
You gone too far, now, with all them Muslims,
Who round you swarm, with all those dagos too,
Who’ve turn’d you to a brainwash puppet boy
I think it’s time you spent five years in jail
Slamming shut the door on your treachery
America’s been very good to you
& made you rich, so where is your respect
You’re nothijg but a traitor to your land

Cassandra Kelly
Thank you very much, Deputy Sherriff
Now this is Teri Welsh, a journalist
For the local Louisville Courier

Teri Welsh
Hello there

Cassandra Kelly
So, tell us what you think

Teri Welsh
Well, I’m afraid, Cassius Clay’s a fool
Lacks the dignity of a champion
Insulting every mother’s son who serves
In Vietnam – he is a sick young man
That should not be at all example held
Up to the impressionable youngsters
Of this country, this hard-headed bigot
This punk, this outcast, just churns my stomach

Cassandra Kelly
& finally, Mayor Michael Robert

Mayor Robert
It is inter’sting albeit depressing
To note that the illustrious Cassius
Clay is declaring his craz’d intentions
To dodge the draft, but still expects to sell
Tickets for his pugilistic displays
He might look on himself as the greatest
But history, I’m sure, will differ now

Cassandra Kelly
So there we have it, & unanimous
Tomorrow being the day of the draft
If you are watching this Cassius Clay
Kentucky is watching, do the right thing
& make us once more proud of thee again

Scene 31

Houston, Texas / Ceremony Rooms of the Army base / MA is stood there with several other men – Lieutenant Clarence Hartman is in charge

Lieutenant Clarence Hartman
You are all about to be inducted
Into the noble forces of this land
The United States of America
In the army, the navy, the air force
Or marine corps, as indicated
By whichever the serve to thee announc’d
So, once your name, do as follows
You will take one step forward as your name
& service are called, & such step constitutes
Your inductions into the armed forces
Nicholas Stowell, Christopher Wareing
Kristian Sutherland, Andrew Buggey
Cassius Marcellus Clay… did you hear me
Cassius Marcellus Clay… motionless
Means I am oblig’d, now, to inform you
By refusing your lawful induction
You will be committing a felony
Neath the Universal Military
Training & Service Act, punishable
By up to 5 years of imprisonment
& a ten thousand dollar fine…

I’m aware
Of the consequences, sir

Lieutenant Clarence Hartman
Marcellus Clay… I will say it once more,
Cassius Marcellus Clay, will you step forth

No sir

Lieutenant Clarence Hartman
Well, you will now be arrested
The authorities will need a statement
Writing down your reasons for refusal
Get him out of here

Two navy officers take MA away

Lieutenant Clarence Hartman
God damn draft dodgers
Unpatriotic cankers to the cause
That is our wonderful nation, so men
Welcome all to the US arm’d forces

Lieutenant Clarence Hartman salutes

Scene 32

Houston / the media room at the Army Base / Lieutenant Clarence Hartman steps out in front of the press

Lieutenant Clarence Hartman
Ladies & Gentlemen, good morning
Cassius Clay has just been inducted
Into the United States Army – wait
That is the wrong one – sorry about that
Ladies & gentlemen, Cassius Clay
Has just now refused to be inducted
Into the United States armed forces
Notification of his refusal
Will be made to the US attorney,
The state director of the Selective
Service system, & the local selective
Service Board for whatever admonishment
They’ll deem appropriate – further questions
Regarding the status of Clay should be
Directed to the Selective Service
I also understand that Clay himself
A statement has prepared, to be read out
Mr Brown

Bundini Brown
Why, thanking you lieutenant
So, ladies & gentlemen, here it is
{opening a piece of paper}
While America is getting richer
Materialistically, it is
Getting much poorer spiritually
The man that you call Cassius, whom I
Know by the name of Muhammad Ali
Who has refus’d exemption on the grounds
He’s a minister of the religion
Of Islam, as is my right, this coutry
Was born out of religious empathy
& the sweetening of lips with prayers
A veritable catalogue of faith
E’er since the Pilgrim Fathers found succour
Upon these fertile shores, anchor dropping
By the tip of Cape Cod, to worship God
In peace, as Massachusetts Puritans
Declar’d this a Promis’d Land, the world
Heard this, two ships, the Dove, the Ark, soon swept
Across the heaving ocean, baring west
America’s first Catholics, to find
A tolerance the Old World brutaliz’d,
Then came o’er the Quakers & the Shakers
While in New York the land’s first synagogue
Dedicated was, the Shearith Israel,
Now in the wake of great revelations
Did Joseph Smith publish his famous tome,
“The Book of Mormon,” whose fair followers
& all their gospel goosebumps upp’d all sticks
For Utah, there Salt Lake City found,
To worship God in all His grace & glory,
Just as the slaves ripp’d from Africa roots
& planted on desperate plantations
Whom Islam knew, tho’ the whip abhorrent
Did forcibly divert their prayers to Christ
They worship’d Allah in secret corners
Until Emancipation reconven’d
The covenant they’d kept inside their hearts
A fire fann’d by Muslim immigrants
From Syria & Lebanon, Midwest
Likewise the Sikhs in pour’d from the Punjab
To Angel Island via old Hong Kong
Working hard on Californian farms
Or in the lumber mills of Bellingham,
On that same coast the Orient did land
Where Japanese, Kalmyks, Chinamen built
Fine Buddhist Temples, San Francisco knew
Eight by eighteen seventy-five, & all
Of these fine religious institutions
By the First Amendment are protected
That all Americans can love their God
Without fear of Old World persecution
& so to my friend, Muhammad Ali
Whose faith has dissallow’d him from fighting
An aggressive war, the precise teachings
Of the Holy Qu’ran declare that War
Should only ever be resorted to only
For the sake of God and not for the sake
Of any selfish motives, never for
Aggrandizement or for the advancement
Of any interests outwith Allah
Thus feeling this in every fibre
Muhammad Ali, who holds the title
Of Heavyweight Champion of the World
Understands he should at all times keep,
& carry out, courageous convictions
Not only in the ring, but every phase
Of life, & so today he has withstood
The call to become kitted out to kill
Strangers in strange & dangerous land
& does so with full realization
Of implications & consequences,
He says he has search’d his unsmirch’d conscience
Found he cannot be true to his beliefs
By accepting such a murderous call
& taking the decision to refuse
Is solely dependent upon Allah
As the final judge of any actions, & hopes
His rights will be constitutionally
Upheld, is confident justice will come,
For truth must eventually prevail

Journalist 1
Please, Bundini Brown

Bundini Brown

Can you tell us of his state of mind

Bundini Brown
No more questions, there are sev’ral copies
Of the statement in these envelopes here

Exit Bundini Brown

Journalist 2
There’s a fine line between fanaticism
& faith – Cassius clay turns my stomach
A superpatriot I’m nowhere near
But I feel that we as Americans
Must show a willingness to protect it
To serve in times of need, in this respect
The Heavyweight Champion of the World
Has been a complete & total disgrace
I’m gonna tell my readers to boycott
Any of his bouts, to leave vasty swathes
Of seats in the arenas, as tributes
To the boys whose hearses theatres pass

Journalist 1
To me that Clay is nothing but a punk
A sorry part of the Beatle Movement
Of long-hair’d boys & girls with unwash’d looks
& college kids dancing at secret proms
In heathen nudity, like the painters
Who copy soup tin labels, the surge of bums
Who work refuse, absorb the pamper’d style
About the cult of the bored young rebel

Enter Journalist 3

Journalist 3
Hey guys, guys

Journalist 1
What, what is it, Tommy

Journalist 3
Wheels are rolling on a serious road
The New York state athletic commission
Has just suspended Clay’s boxing license
& withdrawn him as their champion – AND
Other jurisdictions are promising
To follow suit, the title that he work’d
So hard for all his life’s about to fly
Out of his life, not by opponent’s fist
But national bureaucracy

Journalist 2
So what!
It’s everything that draft-dodger deserves

Journalust 3
Why are you not in the Nam

Journalist 2
I’m exempt

Journalist 3
Bureaucracy, hypocrisy ! bullshit!
Ali is the greatest patriot, since
Since, since Benedict Arnold

Exit Journalist 3

Journalist 2
What’s his beef

Journalist 1
Well, I’m thinking Cassius Clay’s status
Has just become our social battlefield
First symptom of the national breakdown
That’s roaring in fast like a tsu-na-mi

Journalist 3
Right, I’ve gotta get this to press

Journalist 1
Me too

Journalist 2
Got a car

Journalist 1

Journalist 1
Can I get a ride

Journalist 2
Where ya heading

Journalist 1
Outta Houston, its hot
Anywhere close to the airport will do

Journalist 2
I’ll drop you off there man, its fine

Journalist 1
Thank you

Exit journalists

Scene 33

Houston – US District Judge Ben Connaly is presiding of a court – Cassius Clay is in the dock

Judge Connaly
Cassius Clay you have been indicted
On a Federal charge for refusing
The draft – in ugly violation
Of the Selective Service Act
& tho you pled otherwise,
Stating your ministerial status
& claiming conscientious exemption
This jury’s found you guilty of the crime
You say you are the people’s champion
But strop about like some wired teenager
Spouting your unpatriotic remarks
Inviting your punitive correction
& so I’ll fine you ten thousand dollars
& sentence you the maximum allow’d
Which is five years of incarceration
Which I could will be suspended at once
If lawyers lodge immediate appeal
Pre-empting this the state shall confiscate
Your passport, & let you free, but on bond
While waiting for the verdict of appeals
But when they fails you’ll have go to jail –
Before all that, before you leave my court
Is there anything else you’d like to say

Well, I’ve been in jail for four hundred years
So why should I mind another few more
As for my faith, our constitution swears
Recognition for every religion
I feel my faith has been politciz’d
I do not pray five times each day
For politics, for this you punish me?
You want me to fight for America
But none of you will fight for me right here
For my beliefs, for my freedom of thought
& as a poet of this busted realm
This dull House of Hypocrisy, this dirge
Of death, denigration & division
This nation of nonsensical creatures
Habituating lofty decisions
When favours & bias bully the law
Again, today, such dogs have rear’d their heads
& snarl’d at me for what, that my conscience
Prevents me shooting my darker brothers
Or some poor hungry people in the mud
For big & powerful America
Who never call’d me nigger, or lynch’d me
Who never sent howling hounds to hunt me
Who never robb’d my nationality
Never rap’d my mother, kill’d my father
How can I shoot such people, its crazy

Judge Connaly
If your country say’s do it, you’ll do it
You will respect the law of this land

Respect, no, bounden, yes, sir, how can I
Respect or acquiesce to tyranny
When once the eight gun Gaspee ran aground
Near Providence & was brutally burnt
Or when Sam Adams led fifty brave men
Disguis’d as Indians, boarded the ships
Of Boston harbour, spilling the contents
Of English tea chests all round the harbour
& if I’m feeling Valley Forge frozen
From all my fields & farms, my stand is good
My conscience is correct,

Judge Connaly
Enough, enough!
Of this fatuous protest, Cassius Clay
Tear thine animadversion from my court
& with thy full complaisance know thy fate

I will, sir, but, with my head held highest
To bear this enormous business alone
{begins to leave}
But wait my name isn’t Cassius Clay
My name is, listen, Mu-ham-mad A-li


I don’t mind if I’ve made a new enemy
In my mind I must be the man I must be
No one’ll fake me
No one’ll make me sit on my stand
No-one’ll take me
No one’ll break this resistant man

em/c/f/weird c/no chord

I don’t mind if I’m seen as a man of hate
All my life civil rights have been made to wait
I hope it’s contagious
Condemn the ridiculousness of war
People are dying
But dying for nothing worth dying for

If you still adore me
Then do something for me
You don’t have to worry
I’ll never say sorry
With Allah me teacher
Dont fear for the future
As long as I’m in it
My song is with spirit

I don’t mind if I’ve made a new enemy
Cos in my mind is the only place I’ll be free
No one will command me
No one will command me to leave this land
& please understand me
I’m happy to be resistant man

If you still adore me
Then do something for me
You don’t have to worry
I’ll never say sorry
With Allah me teacher
Dont fear for the future
As long as I’m in it
My song is with spirit


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