As if in defense of his status as "most side-eyed white man in Black America," Piers Morgan tweeted a tone-deaf statement about the recently deceased Muhammad Ali on Sunday. Self-appointed expert on black culture that he is, Morgan has taken this moment of widespread mourning to educate the internet on the subject of reverse racism. Surprise.
"Muhammad Ali said far more inflammatory/racist things about white people than Donald Trump ever has about Muslims," Morgan wrote, labeling his statement a #fact.
The boxing legend, whose decades-long fight with Parkinson's disease came to an end on Friday, was beloved not just for his skill in the ring, but also for his outspoken activism within the civil rights movement. He famously refused to fight in Vietnam, saying he had no beef with the Viet Cong because "no Viet Cong ever called me n----r." According to the Huffington Post, he named white people as his enemy instead, and this at a time in our national history when African Americans were disenfranchised, actively persecuted and systematically denied equal standing in society.
Which is all to say, his disdain for white people was understandable. Donald Trump's disdain for Muslims and Mexicans and his tacit approval of the Ku Klux Klan and fascist dictators is a white man's disdain for broad swathes of people, apparently on the basis of their race and/or religion. Perplexingly, that disdain does not extend to Ali, a member of the Nation of Islam. Ali was fighting racism, whereas Trump is a racist.
These are not nuances that Morgan explored, however, and the internet is dragging him for it.
Morgan initially did not see what the problem was with sharing his "#fact."
His apparent confusion is all the more perplexing in light of a memorial essay Morgan wrote for the Daily Mail, in which he referred to Ali as a "trailblazer for African-Americans" who "directly and provocatively challeng[ed] whites in the U.S. to tackle the racism that so widely pervaded society in the '60s and '70s."
In that piece, published Saturday, Morgan appeared to understand what might separate Ali's politics from Trump's. And despite Twitter's swift and forceful lesson, Morgan continues to miss the point. He has since offered a sarcastic-sounding apology, followed up by a refusal to "rescind an entirely accurate comment," adding fuel to the fiery internet outrage.