An Arab reporter flung his shoes at President George W. Bush today. In characteristic fashion, he took the incident in cowboy stride, but overall his reaction indicated the depths of his ignorance of Arab culture.
Bush called the act an attempt at “attention-grabbing” and compared this to people shouting at a political rally. Attentiong-grabbing is precisely what shoe-throwing by an Arab is not!
Throwing one’s shoes is a symbolic act of major disrespect and disdain in Arab culture. Short of throwing stones at Bush, the reporter was decrying him as an oppressor and ignoramus. In other words, it was a profoundly angry political statement. (Note also the fact that the act came immediately upon the heels of Bush speaking in Arabic, evidently the straw that broke the camel’s back for the reporter.)
I find it reprehensible that after six years of military intervention in Iraq that Bush hasn’t learned something as simple as this about Arabs!
*sigh Well, let’s consider it that country’s parting message to him…
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For a counter-view regarding shoe-throwing from an Arab, check out As’ad Abu Khalil’s 2007 blog post on the subject, “To throw the shoe or not to throw the shoe: a cultural dilemma.”
Nevertheless, today he reports a Beiruti newspaper headline regarding the incident: “A Double Shoe Strike Almost Hit Bush in His Face: This is the Farewell Kiss from the Iraqis, O Dog.” (Update 12/15/08: “Is the shoe mightier than the pen (or postcolonial theory)?”)
More from the Angry Arab News Service:
- When the Shoe is Mightier than the Pen
- In Defense of the Shoe
- Muntazir Az-Zaydi is a Leftist
- Al-Baghdadiyyah Defends its Correspondent
Blog round-up with photos and video:
- Foreign Policy magazine blog
- Gateway Pundit
- Michael Calderone
- Talking Points Memo
- Hip Hop Flavas
- The Brad Blog
- Digital Journal
- Say Anything Blog
Update 12/16/2008 more round-up:
- New York Times Baghdad Bureau: Brother explains shoe-tossing Iraq’s anger
- Angry Arab News Service: “What US media are missing about the Shoe Affair is this: that Bush is so despised and hated by all Arabs and Muslims that this simple deed captured their imagination and attention.”
- The Narcycist: Release the Shoe Thrower!
- Sabbah Blog
- Ali the Translator (raises a point about journalistic professionalism), to which I respond: If the shoe (bomb?) fits… Patriotism, professionalism, military intervention, and journalistic integrity
Everyone: please take a moment to consider this “Free Montather” petition.
Update 12/17/2008 more round-up:
- BoingBoing: Iraq Shoe Tosser Guy: The Animated Gifs and Muntadar “Shoe-Tossing Iraqi Guy” al-Zaidi: Jailed, Beaten, Status Unknown
- Although I adamantly believe in the symbolism of the act and defend its importance, the Khalil is also dead-on when he writes,
I wish all those Arabs cheering the shoe would take down to the streets and demonstrate against their tyrants and against Israel and they can throw their own shoes at their rulers instead of hypnotically watching scenes of the flying shoe, over and over again.
But such is infotainment these days. Masha’allah. Well, insh’allah, this will be the last time I’m writing about “shoe-gate.” Let’s end it on a funny note: