Try that One on for Size: Al-Zaidi Puts Iraq Back on the Map

I can’t lie. I’ve watched Iraqi journalist Montather Al-Zaidi whip those two shoes past George Bush’s head more times than I can count. I loved it; I even got into the corny jokes about the Red Sox drafting Al-Zaidi in the spring (cementing my belief that Iraqis have the second strongest arms in the Middle East — behind Palestinians of course). I also read endless blog coverage and joined the Facebook group, “Release Montather Al-Zaidi and Give Him New Shoes.”

Overnight, Al-Zaidi became a hero to many Iraqis, Arabs, Bush haters, and anti-war activists. After the episode, Iraqis rallied in the streets with shoes in hand and demanded that their new hero be released (reports have now surfaced that Al-Zaidi’s wrist has been broken and he has been tortured in jail). That’s when I realized that Al-Zaidi did something much greater than throw two shoes at a war criminal, he (even if it will only last a week) single-handedly put Iraq back on the map.

After the heartwarming questions concerning Bush’s safety (given his popularity, he should have been happy it wasn’t a couple Molotov cocktails) and the curious, almost racist, fascination with the meaning of the throwing of a shoe in Arab culture, a few journalists were bitten by what can best be described as a fleeting bug in their industry: integrity. On air, a number of journalists began to question why Al-Zaidi threw the shoes in the first place. The New York Times interviewed his proud family, who spoke of the devastation Bush brought to Iraq over the last half decade. His brother, Maythem Al-Zaidi, said, “[h]e was provoked when Mr. Bush said [during the news conference] this is his farewell gift to the Iraqi people.” It doesn’t take someone with an IQ higher than the president to deduce why Iraqis are so pissed off: our government is responsible for the death of a million Iraqis, the country lacks proper access to electricity, and nearly five million people have been made refugees. Compound this with Bush cramming US victory chants down the throats of Iraqis, and one can understand the journalist’s tame gesture.

Bush, like the fool we love to excuse, nonchalantly brushed off the encounter with substandard jokes and reassured the American public that this incident is evidence that democracy is in full effect. TIME Magazine’s Mark Halperin responded to the episode on Anderson Cooper 360, “[y]ou know my reaction to it, without taking sides … I think the president should be a little more sensitive to what this man was protesting, which was in effect, the death of innocent civilians in Iraq.” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also ended her segment discussing the deaths of Iraqi civilians over the course of the last two days and inferred that the last minute reframing of the war was itself a tragedy.

In the face of dwindling US coverage of Iraq, two shoes thrown at an outgoing president opened Baghdad’s door again. And while Iraqis deal with whatever America throws their way, George Bush dodged what one Iraqi threw back. Yet, one has to wonder what will come after the “shoe protest.” Though the media may stop covering the anger and devastation caused by America’s war on Iraq, it will not go away, nor will its consequences.

Remi Kanazi is the editor of Poets For Palestine. He will be touring the US and Canada this fall on the Poets For Palestine tour.He can be contacted at Remroum@gmail.com. Read other articles by Remi, or visit Remi's website.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 17th, 2008 at 11:16am #

    but, kiss for and hug of al-bushi wld have worked better. but only after he sees some dead bodies in the morgues.
    or, how about, it doesn’t really matter what one does to or says ab him; US goes on. USA, USA, USA! that’s all folks! thnx

  2. Xihuitl said on December 17th, 2008 at 2:58pm #

    Send your shoes to Bush. Pile them up! Join this brave man in his protest! All journalists should be so moral.

  3. kahar said on December 17th, 2008 at 3:19pm #

    “..and the curious, almost racist, fascination with the meaning of the throwing of a shoe in Arab culture..”

    The REAL meaning behind throwing your shoes at Bush.. here it is, what you’ve all been waiting for (drum roll please):

    He couldn’t bring a gun or a knife into the room and there was nothing else to throw at the dirty SOB pervert.

  4. DavidG. said on December 17th, 2008 at 3:34pm #

    Bush has never faced the reality of his warmongering! He sits safely in the Oval Office and walks his dogs around the Rose Garden.

    If he was made to go to Iraq every few months and see for himself the death and devastation that he caused with his phony war: the limbless and headless bodies, the burned children, the raped women, things might have been different.

    The only violence he’s witnessed since the invasion is the throwing of the shoes!

    It’s better than nothing, I suppose.

    http://www.dangerouscreation.com

  5. Hue Longer said on December 17th, 2008 at 4:18pm #

    Who cares if the western media does what it does and tries to forget the story or the significance of it? It is bigger than the western media and won’t die in Iraq. Oh man what is the puppet regime going to do, release a tortured martyr or say he hanged himself?

  6. catherine said on December 17th, 2008 at 6:47pm #

    But what will happen to al-Zaidi, the courageous and righteous man?

    If he’d managed to hit the bastard, he’d be dead by now. His brother says he’s been beaten so badly that he can’t yet appear in court.

    Bless you, Mr. al-Zaidi.

  7. dino said on December 17th, 2008 at 9:40pm #

    What the mean propaganda try to say now is the lie that the incident show how much democracy penetrated the minds of Iraqi people.Al_Zaidi dared to throw the shoes only because in democracy one could dare to do it.Have Bush courage to make alone a walk in a street of Baghdad to feel how much Iraqi people became democratic.Al-Zaidi gesture not repeat an unimportant contradiction between a labour member and a cons in British Parliament in the end of which one throw something at other as a sign that that can not deserve to be a discussion partner.Al-Zaidi gesture means that that not deserve to be at all.

  8. redcatbiker said on December 17th, 2008 at 10:11pm #

    Your Shoes For Bush http://yourshoesforbush.com/

    Some folks in Ireland set this up. Let us show worldwide support for Al-Zaidi! From the website:

    Us folks at Charlie´s Bar in Lanzarote think that it would be fantastic to post as many pairs of shoes as possible to George W. Bush.

    Wasn´t it a great idea and a lovely gesture from the reporter who gave his shoes to Mr Bush?

    Simply post a pair of shoes to:

    Mr George W. Bush
    c/o The Whitehouse
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington DC 20500
    United States of America

    We sincerely hope this will catch on around the whole World, so go and tell all your web friends on Bebo, MySpace, Facebook etc., and if someone could translate this page into other languages (including Arabic) for us that would be great, so CONTACT US at:

    shoes @ yourshoesforbush.com

    We hope Mr Bush will receive at least ONE MILLION PAIRS OF SHOES for his retirement, so….. MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!!

    It will not cost much in postage! So go on and take just take 10 minutes to go to your local post office and send him a pair of shoes!

    Go on, go on! Just do it! You know you want to! ;)

    We feel we should all follow his example.

  9. Bob said on December 18th, 2008 at 6:58am #

    History repeating itself, isn’t it? Bush II, doltish, me-firster, thrower of high explosives and 5.56mm projectiles of a certain lethality, gets a couple of shoes thrown at him, and really doesn’t understand it.

    Remember Daddy Bush in Panama? Invades a country, people are injured and killed, some protest within his heraring when he comes down to beam benevolently at the devastation. His take? Just a bunch of “old lefties” who are mad about not having power.

    Not to mention his mommy’s comment about the people of New Orleans.

    What can we expect from a pack like that?

    And it looks like we are getting dynasties of these varmints.

  10. Myles Hoenig said on December 18th, 2008 at 9:18am #

    Awesome idea about mailing the package! Recommend that you don’t put your return address on, or at least a fictitious one.
    I also tried to go to http://play.sockandawe.com/ but my computer crashed. I’m already up to 11. So many people are on it!!

  11. Shabnam said on December 20th, 2008 at 6:35am #

    When Montather Al-Zaidi threw his shoe at Bush, he became a hero among Iraqis and many other groups worldwide. He might had planned this or not, but it was obvious that he did not want to hit Bush rather to make his point clear that Iraqi people will never forget the Bush’s war crimes against humanity and warned those who want to take the region into another Zionist war where Iraq cannot be immune from further destruction. He wanted to put the destruction of Iraq and its people at the centre stage to be remembered that the war has serious consequences especially when there is high concentration of WMD in the hands of war criminals like the neocon.
    Many people in the West supported him and wrote the following line repeatedly:
    {Hitting someone with your shoes is possibly the worst insult in the Middle East. The second worst is probably calling someone a dog. Bush got both.}
    To hit someone with a shoe is an insult in any culture. What is different, however, is that Muslims do not enter the room with their shoes on, do not pray with shoes on, or do not place their feet with on the table, which is not unusual thing to do in the west, with their shoes on. They believe worn shoes are DIRTY since you walk with them everywhere.
    Anyway, many in the world including the United States supported Al-Zaidi’s action. They argue Bush deserved it since Bush is responsible for invasion and destruction of Iraq with more than 1.2 million dead. Strangely enough, few Arab journalists, who earn their money through writing on behalf of the imperialists and Zionists’ interest and their Arab head of states as enablers, such as Saudi Arabia, condemned Al-Zaidi’s action.
    One of them is Raghida Dergham, a Lebanese US citizen living in the United States and is the senior diplomatic correspondent and columnist for Al Hayat – like many others owns by the Saudi Arabia- who condemned Al-Zaidi for his action.
    http://www.raghidadergham.com/

    In a TV program, Chris Matthews hosted Raghida Dergham, MSNBC contributor and another fellow talking about the Flying Footwear. He said: “what is with Arabs always ready … drinking sweet tea … with a shoe … we look at you and joke here … why don’t you hold it against the looting Assads in Syria .. and not our flag….”
    Dergham said I was “embarrassed” by the “despicable” behavior of the journalist. She said it was “an act of cowardice” and that speaks for Arab bankruptcy.
    ANGRYARAB, an Arab internet journal, had this to say against Dergham:
    {Now let us ponder that? Let us apply journalistic standards for the evaluation of media behavior. Which is more despicable? The shoe throwing or the journalists who were embedded or not embedded who cheered a war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (and Afghans)? What about those journalists who peddled fake stories of Iraqi WMDs? What about those Iraqi puppet journalists who put their names on stories written for them by a contractor for the Pentagon? She then said that she was recently in Bahrain attending the US security conference and saw many Arabs thanking Petreus for the help he provided in Iraq. I watched that segment and left learning about Saudi-owned media what I knew not before. And there is a long list of Iraqi journalists who were tortured, beaten, killed, or injured by US occupiers. Did Dergham speak out on their behalf? Did she call the murder of Al-Jazeera correspondent by US gunfire “despicable”? I came to this country knowing that an Arab before he/she can speak in the US, they have to denounce and renounce any form of Palestinian political violence. The standards have tightened. Now, Arabs are expected to denounce shoe throwing. Dergham stressed that what happened with the shoe should not “blind us” to the fact that “Iraqis are grateful for what the US has done in Iraq”. She said that US troops have made things better for Iraqis.}

    Other people called Raghida Dergham a Bush lackey.
    Arab intellectuals must expose Arab puppet head of states’ journalists such as Raghida Dergham who uses her pen on behalf of the Zionist/imperialist’s interests and its enablers such as Saudi Arabia where gives financial support to ‘journalist’ who are willing to protect American interest in the region against Arab population and people of the region.

  12. Shabnam said on December 20th, 2008 at 8:49am #

    Since the war criminals with thousand of WMD at their hands feel free to destroy the world and kill millions of people with no penalty to expand their influence and domination all over the world, Monthater Al-Ziadi have shown the world an effective way to warn the empire builders of their criminal acts if their citizen are UNABLE to bring these criminals to justices.
    The latest regarding throwing something in the air is the case of a journalist who threw his BOOT at one of the speaker at Ukraine-NATO inauguration to stop him. This piece has been reported in ‘Pat Dollard’ and repeated in other sources. I don’t know how legitimate is ‘pat dollard’? In any case this is the piece:

    Oleg Soskin, a member of the Ukraine-NATO Social League Coordination Council, was making a speech when he was interrupted by a journalist from one of the local TV channels, who shouted: “Students, you’re young and promising, don’t you listen to these stupid and marasmic old men!” The journalist then took off his boots and threw them at Soskin.
    Lat More..er the journalist, whose name is yet unknown, said that “the issue of boots’ is very vital in the world these days. Just remember how Bush had shoes thrown at him in Iraq… and as for our case, a boot is the most effective way to fight NATO’s expansion in Ukraine.”
    http://patdollard.com/2008/12/journo-throw-boot-not-shoes-in-the-ukraine/