Barack Obama is "paying tribute" to Muhammad Ali after Ali's death. In reality, Obama is paying lip service to the ideals of standing up to injustice and criminality while gutlessly doing the opposite and punishing those who dare or blow whistles.
Ali stood up against the illegal war in Vietnam at the risk of his freedom and his career, while at the height of his career. He was not only punished by a corrupt government with a false prosecution and jail time, he also endured a corrupt media's attacks upon his character. He was labelled a "coward" and "communist" by the US populace. It is only in retrospect that people are calling him a hero for doing what was right.
The reality is far different today. People like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning also stood up and did what was right, speaking out against illegal wars and war crimes. For doing so, they are vilified by a corrupt government and a cowardly and complicit media. One is a political prisoner of conscience, incarcerated for telling the truth that her government lied and committed a war crime. The other is living in exile, called a "coward" by a government that murders people with impunity, that intentionally bombs hospitals to kill doctors and aid workers.
This sort of hypocrisy isn't anything new. Back in World War I, England imprisoned people who refused to take part in that war, after first threatening to murder them (so-called "executions"). As with Ali in the US, the UK government now wants to celebrate people that it tried to punish.
This isn't about morality and doing what's right. It's propaganda and more lies being sold both at home and abroad.
The message is clear: It's okay to have refused to be part of war crimes fifty years ago. But if you refuse to commit war crimes now, you're a "coward". The scum who call pacifists "cowards" for refusing to fight in illegal wars and war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq are dishonestly trying to claim the moral standing of those who refuse to take part in wars.