In case you haven't heard, an Iraqi journalist decided to show his displeasure towards our Commander-in-Chief by hurling both of his shoes at him in the middle of a press conference during a surprise visit to Iraq the other day. To most of us in the West this seems to be bit of an odd way to express oneself. We're used to people throwing pies or fruit & vegetables, but shoes?!
Within Middle Eastern cultures, shoes hold greater significance than in the West and represent something much more than just what we put on our feet. In fact, even showing the sole of one's foot is considered unacceptable in polite society. So when this Iraqi sought to demonstrate his contempt for the U.S. president, he did so with that which he thought would be most offensive -- his shoes.
Apparently President Bush didn't get the memo because he didn't seem that offended by it. He was as cool as a cucumber as he stood at the podium and dodged the first shoe and then like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, slid out of the way of the second. In commenting after the incident, the President didn't seem shaken or troubled by what had happened. He actually seemed more bothered by the attention that was being given to it. I guess after eight years of being in office he has developed some pretty thick skin.
It is no secret that I don't agree with some of our country's policies in the Middle East in recent years. However, President Bush's comments were spot on when he indicated the very fact that this incident had happened was an indication of progress in the country. Open dissent is a sign of freedom and democracy. Had Saddam still been in power and this journalist disagreed with him, do we think he'd even still be alive after a stunt like that? In any case here's the video and some of President Bush's comments afterwards. (Please click here if the video player doesn't show up.)