OK, so a reporter in Iraq tosses his shoes at our President and creates quite a hubbub. It’s a strange world we live in.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the 10 second recap: Bush is talking to the press in Iraq, an Iraqi reporter who apparently doesn’t like Bush and the “U.S. Occupation” throws a shoe at Mr. Bush. Bush duscks. Reporter is tackled and arrested. Bush later says “I saw the man’s sole.” You have to admit, that’s funny.
Well, protests break out across the Middle East hailing the man as a hero. People want him released. Now, before we get too carried away with this, let’s keep in mind that the press has a nice way of making protests seem like a big deal when they want to. I don’t know one way or another exactly how widespread this “free the sho-guy” sentiment was, but I won’t necessarily simply accept that it was some huge, riotous, widespread activity. TV cameras showing 200 people can make a protest look like a huge deal. On the other hand, the annual March for Life walk/protest numbers over 100,000 and most people never see a thing about it. So if you want to attribute the worthiness of a cause to actual protest numbers, the mainstream media isn’t exactly the most trusted source in equating coverage to size of protest. Let’s face it… whetehr 200 people or 200,000 people, our media was not about to pass on an opportunity for airtime about protests related to a guy in Iraq who threw a shoe at our President.
Anyway, some unfortunate reports came out that the guy got a little roughed up during his time in the clink. I’ve heard about a possible broken arm and cracked ribs, though I don’t know what has been verified and what hasn’t.
Now, according to this little article the guy wants a pardon.
So, what are we to think about all this? I’m torn. On the one hand, it was a freakin’ shoe. Apparently, there’s some custom in Iraq that, fortunately, has not caught on with is Americans where it’s not uncommon to throw a shoe at somebody you disagree with. Or something like that. On the other hand, it’s still an assault against a head of state. And one might say we have our own customs in America: we punch someone we don’t like. But guess what? If we tried to punch a foreign national, we wouldn’t be hailed as a hero regardless of how unliked the particular character is. And we’d most certainly be in jail, and most people would understand why.
Now, had this guy thrown a shoe at Saddam, you can be pretty sure that he’d be a dead man. But, on the flip side, with the reports of abuse, there’s still a problem with the civility of their jailing process, it would appear. I guess old habits die hard.
But at the most basic of levels, Iraq is still trying to integrate itself into the world as part of a civilized society. It appears there is still a lot of mentality at large in the general population that accepts certain unlawful actions as long as the cause or the target is acceptable. And they need to rise past that. The government needs to treat him fairly, certainly. And I’m not saying this should be a life imprisonment, by any stretch. But for a country trying to find its way in the world, basically pardoning the guy and accepting it as a cultural reaction sends the wrong message.
I guess I don’t know how long I’d be in jail if I threw a shoe at Obama. But I have to believe I wouldn’t be seeing my family real soon.
So, whether you’re Iraqi or American, whether you love Bush or hate Bush, and whether or not you think “it was just a shoe,” it still needs to be treated seriously enough to discourage similar reactions in the future. Only when the people realize that there really are lines drawn regarding their behavior will they take that next step forward – preferably with their shoes on.