Thursday, December 18, 2008

That Shoe Thrower Guy

I've been thinking about that shoe thrower guy a lot today. Well, obviously he's hard to avoid if you even turn on the TV or read the news...

But I'm pondering whether the act of throwing his shoes at Bush was a violent act or a symbolic act. If it was intended as a violent act, he kind of failed. Nobody was hurt. Bush smirked -- even looked proud of himself for dodging the projectiles. There was even a bit of laughter in the room.

My impression is that the thrower, Muntazer al-Zaidi, knew his protest would be symbolic. He had his lines prepared and had an exact purpose. On the first shoe throw, he shouted "This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog." And he consecrated the second shoe with "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

With this act, he evoked memories of how Saddam's statue was toppled and then beaten with shoes in the early days of the Iraq war. Even if westerners don't grasp the supreme insult of shoe throwing, we understand Bush is being equated with that dictator.

I'm sure al-Zaidi knew what he was doing. He could have been truly violent if he wanted to, but he wasn't. And the consequences for his actions? He's an Iraqi so he knew what horror he might be facing. The reports indicate that he now has a broken arm and ribs. I suspect this new Iraqi regime has no more respect for human rights than the previous one. So much for the progress we were bringing them.

But the most extraordinary thing is that al-Zaidi has, with this one brave protest, brought about more praise, admiration, and inspiration than all previous bombers and gunmen combined.

Now if Bush could only put on those shoes and walk a mile in them... nah, it's Bush we're talking about.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I think it would've been more of an impact if he threw poo.