By David Swanson
This is the question now raised in Iraq: If they throw shoes at your face are you a combat troop or a noncombat troop? The answer may be important in helping to guide President Elect Obama’s strategy of reducing but continuing the genocidal occupation that has made a shoeless journalist one of the most beloved, if little known, people in the world overnight.
A related dilemma is this: If shoes become weapons, were the metal detectors, searches, and bribes to phony journalists successful? This strikes me as a similar question to the following: if box cutters become weapons, were the nuclear arsenal, the missile offense shield, and the empire of bases successful?
That all depends upon what the goal was, I suppose. If the goal encompassed the well-being of only one person, then success may have been achieved. Dallas mansion, six-figure speeches, and drunk golfing here I come! But no dog’s goal would ever be so narrow, and animal rights groups can be expected to speak out against Muntadar al-Zeidi’s comparison of George W. Bush to a dog. I also hope human rights groups will be closely monitoring the well-being of this shoe-throwing hero to billions.
I don’t advocate violence, even in response to violence, much less as substitution for words, and yet it seems to me that al-Zeidi has restored the good standing of journalists in the world. He’s punctuated his brief editorial with a statement in the universal language of television. A cream pie would have helped but would probably have tipped off the Secret Service to his plans. With the toss of two shoes, this journalist communicated more honest information to more people than a thousand New York Times exposes on aluminum tubes or expert commentaries on the Pentagon paid for by the Pentagon.
Here’s a little of what he communicated: no technology, no weaponry, and no propaganda can protect you from the results of mistreating millions of human beings. Iraq has been made a living hell. Everyone there has suffered and lost people they loved because of the callous greed and self-centered calculations of George W. Bush who has blood up to his shoulders after waging an illegal aggressive war for politics, money, oil, and bases from which to murder human beings in neighboring countries while seated at the safe distance of the Oval Office.
The question we should really ponder is not why al-Zeidi could be so impolite as to throw his shoes at Bush, but why the dozens of other shoes in the room remained on people’s feet, why no foot odor ever purifies the air at a White House press conference, why a man who throws his shoes at our president is more popular with the people I’ve spoken to here in O’Hare Airport in Chicago than our president himself and yet most Americans are not working with all the advantages we have to put our nation right with the people of Iraq by prosecuting and imprisoning not just petty crook governors of Illinois but also emperors whose nudity has to be exposed by other people taking off their shoes.
When I worked for ACORN six years ago and Bush was pushing a plan to eliminate welfare that had been written by a slimy character at the Heritage Foundation who believed pushing women to get married would do more good than transportation, child care, education, a living wage, or even protection from abusive husbands, we took a few hundred people into the Heritage Foundation building in D.C. and pelted the guy with shoes until he agreed to “walk a day in the shoes” of some of our members on welfare. He later did so, and it changed his mind to some degree, as he admitted to reporters covering the story.
When I worked to expose Bush’s war lies three years ago, we took a crowd of people with a petition from tens of thousands to present at the White House gate. When the guards would not accept our petition, we hurled hundreds of pages of white paper over the White House fence, scattering them all across the lawn of our finest public housing.
I recall these two actions only because it occurs to me that people often walk by the White House with shoes on their feet that could perhaps be put to better use.