On Monday’s post-RAW interview show, Mustafa Ali touched on the faulty premise of American policing, hopefully opening some people’s eyes on the matter.
One of the last places you’d expect to hear a conversation on the United States’ criminal justice system, at least, not in a way that isn’t thinly-veiled propaganda, is on a WWE show. But that’s exactly what we got when Mustafa Ali joined Charly Caruso and R-Truth toward the end of Monday’s RAW Talk program.
After briefly chatting about Ali’s in-ring return, which ended with a pinfall win for him alongside Cedric Alexander and Ricochet over Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Shelton Benjamin, Caruso then pivoted to asking the former 205 Live standout about the “various movements for social justice” he’s taken up during his hiatus.
Ali, who served as a Chicago police officer prior to signing with WWE, used the vague question to pinpoint the systemic problems with policing in this country.
“No change will happen unless we change the criminal justice system as a whole,” Ali said. “When you have something that’s designed, from its inception, to target a certain demographic, a certain group of people, it’s hard to shed ties of that.”
Then, Ali succinctly summed up the actual purpose of American law enforcement: “The criminal justice system, as a whole, is designed to profit, not protect.”
Now, what Ali said on RAW Talk isn’t breaking news for the initiated. But for the people who aren’t as aware of the U.S. police’s origins as runaway slave catchers, its heightened financial incentives thanks to the War on Drugs, and, in a broader sense, its existence as a cudgel to maintain the status quo, hearing someone with Ali’s platform and history within that system explain the problems in a few sentences could be the launching point for them to learn more about the issue, assuming they are operating in good faith.
Ali also deserves a great deal of credit for speaking on the issue in a manner that goes far beyond what one would expect on any of Vince McMahon’s shows. Sure, McMahon is okay with New Day wearing armbands in tribute to victims of police violence and kneeling (now that it’s socially acceptable to do so), but seeing a wrestler such as Ali appear on a company show and zero in on the issue with the preciseness of his signature 450 splash is as surprising as watching a modern WWE pay-per-view without a single non-finish, and the company deserves a modicum of credit for not standing in the way of the message when it easily could have muted him altogether.
Of course, it’s also telling that WWE hasn’t amplified this part of Ali’s RAW Talk segment on any of its social media platforms. And given that RAW Talk is a WWE Network-exclusive show watched by a fraction of the RAW audience, it’s fair to wonder whether the company felt comfortable containing Ali’s views inside this supplemental show.
Yes, you run the risk of alienating fans who don’t want “politics” (that they don’t agree with) intermingling with the wrestling product if you give a voice to these matters, but if you’re serious about them, you wouldn’t want those people’s devotion or dollars in the first place.
Besides, the issues Ali espoused are more important than any individual consumer. As he said, it’s a responsibility to use his status as a public figure for good. If WWE truly cares about this cause, it has to bear more of that responsibility, too.