Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dodging Shoes and Other Things

I actually felt bad for W when I saw that Iraqi journalist throw his shoes at him. It’s embarrassing not just for him, but for all of us.

Then I was impressed with W’s reaction time. He ducked those loafers like a stunt man. All that jogging and biking seems to have paid off.

Then I was impressed with his nonchalance about it. But, unfortunately, he continued talking, which caused my sympathy to wane:



"It is one way to gain attention. It’s like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It’s like driving down the street and having people not gesture with all five fingers. It’s a way for people to draw attention, you know, I don’t know what the guy’s cause is. But one thing is certain — it caused you to ask me a question about it (smirk). I didn’t feel the least bit threatened by it. These journalists here were very apologetic; they said this doesn’t represent the Iraqi people. That’s what happens in free societies. People try to draw attention to themselves. "

It's all about someone else trying to get attention. He develops this theme in a later interview:



Here’s the reality: When the journalist threw the shoe, he yelled “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq." He is someone who was kidnapped last year as part of the general out-of-control lawlessness and violence in Iraq. He was not trying to draw attention to himself. He was trying to draw attention to the consequences of the policies of George Bush, albeit in the most disrespectful way he could think of.

I don’t understand W’s comment about free societies either. The guy is in jail. You are not free to throw anything you want at other people. That’s not part of being a free society. On the other hand, there are now reports of him being beaten in custody, with broken arms and ribs and eye injuries. I guess torture really is an integral part of freedom now.

So, is it asking too much that, despite the embarrassing nature of the event, that W actually learn something from it? Wouldn’t it be great if W had said something like this instead:

Yea, the guy was unhappy that I invaded his country and subsequently killed hundreds of thousands of people. I get it. I am sorry. I screwed up on a Biblical scale. I will commit the rest of my life to atoning for this sin.”

That’s all he needs to do — take responsibility for his actions, express regret for the general devastation he has caused, and give some indication that he will be working to correct what he can for the rest of this life.

Of course, maybe the first thing he could do is make sure this one guy is safe from any further physical abuse.

17 comments:

brownie said...

One thing is for sure. It he had thrown his shoes at Saddam, he'd have been stretched over hot coals and executed within a day. Thank whoever that is no longer the case.

Dan S said...

Yes, but should we be proud that our own moral code has become "we are better than Saddam?"

PG said...

I completely agree, Dan. What a message it would have given if Bush had demanded that the reporter be freed.

But Bush isn't capable of seeing things that way. His whole family may be very rich, but they are empathy-deprived, damned by a deeply inbred sense of entitlement.

It is so sad, and yet I can't feel sorry for Bush. I just can't.

Fingtree said...

It's a most fitting farewell for Dubya. He has been laughing in our faces for all of these years. To have a pair of stinky shoes thrown at his clowning head while at the bully pulpit is clown crowning irony.

Robert Sievers said...

Dan,

Here is a great example of Poe's Law. Regarding your comment about what bush say, I can't tell if you being serious, or whether you are joking around at his expense. I need smileys to tell the difference.

Dan S said...

Hmmm. Not sure which part you are refering to...

Robert Sievers said...

Sorry, I wrote the note fast and left out a key word or two. The part where you say Bush should say ", oh sorry for invading your country, what a mistake of Biblical proportions!", or something along those lines. Do you really think he should say that, or are you just spoofing something? I can't tell. Again, Poe's law in reverse.

brownie said...

I do think we should be proud of being "better" than Saddam, yes. The rule of law, justice, and equal regard for all people are all important moral axioms.

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't think we don't have LOADS of room for improvement.

Dan S said...

I guess I don't see it Bob. How is killing hundreds of thousands of people in an unnecessary war not a screw up of Biblical proportions?

I know he would never see it that way, because that would require him to take responsiblity for the devastation he's caused. Still, it would be nice.

And Mike, I disagree that we should pat ourselves on the back for torturing people, but doing it less cruelly than Saddam might have.

What we have been lacking under Bush is exactly "the rule of law, justice, and equal regard for all people" that you are talking about. We've pretty consistently held people without trying them, illegally spied on US citizens,and tortured people. Sure, we've not been as bad as Saddam, but that's no cause for pride.

PG said...

There's a letter to the editor in today's New York Times that also says what a great move -- and proof of belief in liberty and freedom of speech -- it would have been had Bush demanded the release of the shoe-thrower. There is so much he could do and say to make things just a little bit better in the world...

brownie said...

I don't think we should pat ourselves on the back for torturing people either (that's the part about improvement I mentioned). But I do see more rule of law, justice and equal regard in Iraq now than before. Not much more, unfortunately, but a bit. (Case and point: shoe-thrower)

PG said...

The shoe thrower was beaten to a pulp and is threatened with seven years in jail. Bush could have protested such treatment and it would have sent out a strong sign about justice. Why didn't he?

Fingtree said...

I find that when American's here in this country say that things are now better than they were before Saddam, without having been there before or after, is a totally biased way of looking at it. Similar to how Brownie always calls out Dan for being a Liberal. I can't say either way, I have to go from the three people I know that are from Iraq. One of them says it's worse than before, the other two say it's mixed, some things are better and some are not. The latter is what I would surmise myself. I would add though, that anytime a country is attacked and occupied by force it will mostly be detrimental. Finally, there is no justification or vindication for our actions of torture, holding prisoners without due justice (on a communist country nonetheless).

PG said...

The shoe-thrower is apparently too beaten up to appear in court.

Robert Sievers said...

Dan,

No problem. I just couldn't tell if you wre serious or not. It was indistinguishable from satire.

brownie said...

Fing-
I really try not to be biased when I look at things. I try to see the truth (though that is impossible, there is only one truth, and that, as far as I can tell, is unknowable), and I try to make an estimation of what I think that is, and I speak out. We all have our biases, no doubt. We can either give into them and let them rule over our judgement, or we can try to overcome them and see what's before us in an even light.

As far as Iraq goes, I have said what I believe. I do believe it's a bit better than before. That doesn't mean I approve of war, or Bush, or the neo-con way of foreign policy. Only that I think it's a bit better. Sure, I can't know as well as an Iraqi, but we (us bloggo's) are all talking about things we don't necessarily have experience with. We're just talking.

And as far as whether Dan is a liberal or not, well, I think he's not only said so himself, I think he's proud of the fact. You go Dan. Just don't let your biases cloud your judgement.

PG said...

I thought Roger Cohen's column today equating shoe-throwing with democracy was a good parallel to how things have changed in Iraq.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/opinion/22cohen.html

The latest reports show that infrastructure and quality of life are still below or at pre-war levels.

Any improvement that is seen in Iraq after seven or eight or twenty years may have occurred regardless of the war or not. We will never know. And a much greater improvement in Iraq could have occurred if the U.S. had policies of peace and engagement and involvement and generosity, instead of policies of war.

Trying not to be as contentious as usual,

PG