Who was it that said that the United States would be greeted in Iraq as liberators? Who was it that said that President George Bush would have statues built in his honor by the people of Iraq for liberating the country? If this person meant that George Bush would be liberating people from their shoes then he or she was dead on accurate. However, it is pretty clear that the Iraqis don’t build statues for shoe liberators.
When I saw the President ducking shoes hurled at his head by the Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, I had to ask how much more evidence do we need that this man’s approval ratings have hit bottom. According to the news reporter, in Iraq, throwing a shoe at someone is the mother of all insults. I remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein were pulled down by United State soldiers how so many Iraqi people made considerable effort to use their shoes to hit the statue in its symbolic head. A shoe to the head appears to be standard procedure for communicating dissatisfaction with someone.
I have to admit to some disappointment that the Iraqi shoe thrower yelled something in his native language drawing the attention of Mr. Bush and giving the President an opportunity to duck the thrown shoes. It would have been so satisfying for me to see Mr. Zaidi’s Hush Puppies bouncing off of Mr. Bush’s head. Mr. Bush has some pretty good reflexes, probably honed from all the projectiles hurled by Laura Bush on a regular basis. Mr. Bush ducked behind the podium and rose back up again with his trademark smirk, more frustrating to see than one of those stupid painted expressions on a whack-a-mole game at a Chucky Cheese pizza.
In an interview that followed, Mr. Bush wanted people to think about the symbolism of what had just happened. Saddam Hussein would never tolerate anyone throwing a shoe at him. The thrower, the thrower’s family and friends, and maybe the shoe salesman who sold the shoe to the thrower would disappear to be executed under what could be imagined as the most gruesome of circumstances. Kind of like what has happened to many Iraqis who found themselves in the custody of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib.
A lot of progress has been made in Iraq. Mr. Zaidi won’t be executed by Saddam Hussein. He will only face Iraqi law. Then again, if Mr. Hussein was in control of Iraq, the Mr. Zaidi wouldn’t be so upset from watching his country getting royally screwed by a foreign invader. A lot of progress has been made in Iraq. But there has also been a lot of destruction and corruption and stagnation and regression and death, all at the hands of Mr. Bush.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis didn’t have the good fortune of dodging a simple shoe hurled at them by a disgruntled American soldier. Hundreds of thousand of Iraqis could do little more than duck as megatons of explosives rained from the sky released by American planes of war, easily some of the most sophisticated machines of death made by man. And for the Pandora’s Box of chaos Mr. Bush has released on the country of Iraq, he gets to duck from a couple of shoes.
The Iraqi government so friendly to Mr. Bush is holding Mr. Zaidi on charges of a barbaric act that insulted the Iraqi state according to Yasin Majeed, the prime minister’s media advisor. The government said Mr. Zaidi’s ignominious act was not fitting of media demanded an apology from his employer, the independent television station al-Baghdadiya. But instead the television station demanded Mr. Zaidi’s release, calling the man a hero of the Iraqi people. The television station played continuous loop of patriotic music with Zaidi’s face plastered across the screen.
For throwing the shoe at Mr. Bush, Mr. Zaidi now faces years in prison. In all honesty the man attempted little more than attempted assault. Mr. Bush was not injured in the least. No one died. A nation was not destroyed. Mr. Bush is responsible for heinous crimes against the country of Iraq and is hailed by a puppet government as a hero. Mr. Zaidi throws a shoe and now faces years behind bars. Yes it might be true that Mr. Zaidi may have let his passion get the best of him. He probably deserves punishment. But does this man truly deserve to spend years behind bars?
It turns out maybe there hasn’t been that much progress made in Iraq after all. Disparity seems to be alive and kicking in Iraq, as much now as it did back in Mr. Hussein’s day. It’s this type of discrimination that makes you want to throw your Nikes, Buster Browns, Doc Martins, Stacey Adams, Converses, Nunn Bushes, as well as your Rockports at somebody’s head. I’m surprised it’s taken so long for someone in Mr. Bush’s vicinity to realize that half the fun of having feet is having two shoes to throw at the most opportune time.