An Open Letter
To: President Obama and All Members of Congress
I write this in the early morning hours following the news of Muhammad Ali's death.
I have yet to hear or read statements from public figures, but I know most of you will say nice things about his life and legacy. In addition to his greatness in the boxing ring, you will honor his courage in standing up for his convictions.
But I'll know you are sincere if and only if you do one thing: support a bill to abolish Selective Service.
That's right: get rid of the draft once and for all.
Ali risked imprisonment because he refused to serve during the Vietnam War. His case reached the Supreme Court and he won only on a technicality. The draft continued, and many lost their lives because of it.
No one should be forced to die in a war he wouldn't have voluntarily fought. And no one, whether Ali or someone not as rich and famous, should be punished for refusal.
Although America hasn't had a draft since 1973, the Selective Service System still holds American young men hostage. They must sign up for the possibility of getting drafted, or face legal consequences and lose opportunities.
But remember that wrong isn't right just because politicians want it. The Selective Service requirement is involuntary servitude. It is coercion at its worst.
It is unfit for a nation that calls itself the "Land of the Free."
If you really admire Ali, you wouldn't want to force today's young people to go through what he did.
So do the honorable thing, and honor Ali while you do it. Abolish the draft once and for all!
James Leroy Wilson