I must admit that I had a very good laugh last Sunday when the all news shows aired the footage of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi hurling his shoes as well as verbal abuse at President Bush. In terms of iconic political moments it ranks up there with the photograph of an egg impacting on the face Wendell Wilkie the G.O.P. nominee in the 1940 Presidential Election.
What al-Zeidi did stands as a very courageous act in that he did what the American press never had the courage to do since 2003: stand up and expose the base bloody hypocrisy of the Second Persian Gulf War and strike back at the perpetrator of that base bloody hypocrisy.
When President Bush stood there and tried to give his self-serving speech about the Second Persian Gulf War (essentially doing what Pontius Pilate, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon tried to do in the past: justify the unjustifiable) Al-Zeidi let the President—and the rest of the world—know that he (along with millions other people throughout the world) weren’t having any of it. For all of President Bush’s cant of “victory”, “democracy” and “freedom of speech” no other President did more to stifle dissent and civil liberties in his own country. When one also considers the thought that over four thousand Americans will not be allowed to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones because of the fact that they were killed in action in Iraq and the fact that thousands more Iraqis (innocent and insurgent) were killed also, it makes any decent individual want to throw their shoes in protest as well. What al-Zeidi did ranks up there with the image of the Chinese freedom standing in front of the tank when the Chinese Army crushed the 1989 Tian-a-men Square uprising.
From the aesthetic viewpoint I do have one criticism for al-Zeidi: he should not have yelled at President Bush before throwing his shoes at him. All he did was to give Bush a chance to duck. Instead he should have thrown his shoes first and then do his yelling. He would have had better odds of hitting his target.
Anyway, considering how depressing a year this has been, I have to give thanks Muntadhar Al-Zeidi for giving the world a reason to laugh and cheer this year.