For whatever reason, I happened to be looking at the Yahoo site this morning. (Literally looking at. I didn’t open the page, I wasn’t browsing anything, I just sat down at my computer and there it was.) This was the headline that confronted me. Well, personally, I didn’t find it confronting, partly because I had already read about the Iraqi journalist/cobbler.
The thing that I found interesting was that Yahoo (unlike the other source from which I read the news) used the phrase, Surprise Protest.
Surprised that they weren’t grenades, perhaps. And indeed, it would have been less surprising had the tenderfoot journalist taken a page out of Richard Reid‘s book. At first I just assumed that the man was part of an assassination plot, but misheard and thought that he was told that, “George Bush should be shod.”
However, as it turns out, the soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. Which is why, when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled, jubilant Iraqis proceed to beat it with their footwear. At the time I figured Saddam had run the country into the ground so much that when you went to a hardware store you got a packet of nails and some moccasins, but no, apparently it is the Arab equivalent of “Yo momma is so fat . . .” It is a pity that this particular piece of information wasn’t stumbled upon at the beginning of the “War on Terror”; the personnel at Abu Ghraib could have profited from this bit of knowledge. I can imagine them sitting in Leavenworth, smacking their foreheads going, “Ohhhh. Shoes?! D’oh.”
As for his part, George Bush, showed more class than he has in the last eight years by joking, “If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw.” And later, still classy, though with traces of his trademark obliviousness, he shrugged off the incident: “I don’t know what the guy’s cause is… I didn’t feel the least bit threatened by it.”
Let’s hope that whoever (CIA? Iraqi police? Private security firms owned by Halliburton?) is holding Muntazer al-Zaid shows the same kind of common sense.