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Like all of you, I’ve watched the video of the shoe throwing incident several times. I have to say that I am totally impressed with the reflexes demonstrated by President Bush as he ducked twice to avoid the shoes flying not more than five inches over his head. The accuracy of the Iraqi journalist who pitched the shoes makes him a likely candidate to be recruited by the Texas Rangers. Can you imagine what a hurler he’d be throwing a ball instead of a shoe, and what an embarrassment to George Bush he’d be if he was a star on the team he used to own?
I know nothing about the intricacies of Iraqi shoe throwing technique, but certainly in this case our fast-shoe pitcher misjudged the strike zone by not anticipating the lightening fast double ducking by our nimble president.
If he’d aimed for the chest he would have hit him squarely in the noggin. My guess is the flying shoes probably zoomed across the room at between 20 and 30 mph.
A size 10 brogan could certainly do some damage.
The history and meaning of Arab shoe throwing is described on Wikipedia where the Bush incident is already memorialized:
In the Arab world, shoe flinging is a gesture of extreme disrespect. A notable occurrence of this gesture happened in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. When U.S. forces pulled down a giant statue of Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, many Iraqi detractors of Hussein threw their shoes at the fallen statue.
This may be an ancient gesture from the Middle East; Psalms 60:8, speaking of some of the traditional enemies of Judah, says that “Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe….”
The shoe represents the lowest part of the body (the foot) and displaying or throwing a shoe at someone or something in Arab cultures denotes that the person or thing is “beneath them.” Showing the bottom of one’s feet or shoes (for example, putting one’s feet up on a table or desk) in Arab cultures is considered an extreme insult. Examples include Iraqi citizens smacking torn-down posters of Saddam Hussein with their shoes, and the depiction of President of the United States George H. W. Bush on a tile mosaic of the floor of the Al-Rashid Hotel’s lobby, forcing all visitors entering the hotel to walk on Bush’s face to enter the hotel.
During President George W. Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq in December 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki. President Bush later told reporters that he did not feel the incident was a “big deal” and that it “did not represent the Iraqi media as a whole.” Reference
And we don’t even know what the journalist deliberately stepped in before the news conference.
* IMages from Wikipedia Commons.
Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at www.stressline.com . He also publishes a website about his hometown of Middleboro, Massachusetts (aka Middleborough) called Middleboro Matters. Archive: of previous columns.