Monday, December 15, 2008
If The Shoe Fits
I know that as an American I should be outraged, no matter how I feel about George W. Bush, that someone -- a foreigner in a foreign land! -- would throw a shoe at our president. And on some level, I guess I am. The guy winged it pretty hard, and had it hit, it might have done real injury. (Which raises questions of its own...) And yet.
In Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, many are throwing in with the perpetrator. As it were. Nor is it hard to understand: the timing may not be a coincidence. Only a couple of days earlier we read the Senate report on the administration's torture policy. A damnable travesty, wrapped in a pack of lies. The shoeter is a journalist, and might well have read the report. Even if he hadn't, it's not hard to understand that there's anger in many Iraqis -- deep outrage -- at the fact that we invaded their country. And then made a horrible mess of it. Sitting in a press conference where Mr. Bush claimed, once again, that the invasion was necessary for the safety of America and for world peace, a man who himself had been kidnapped might well be expected to lose his grip. As it were.
"Those things happen when freedom prevails," said George Bush, with no sense of irony, as the guy is hauled off to jail. Uh, no, Mr. President: those things happen when people are put out of their minds. Freedom isn't about throwing shoes.
I suppose our president should be forgiven for his misunderstanding. To him, freedom means the ability to arrest citizens and hold them forever, without charges; to act without regard to laws. To cook the books, to invade on false premises, to ignore contrary facts. Throwing shoes is the least of it.