Shortly after 9-11 I remember friends anxiously speculating about when and where “the other shoe” was going to drop. Apparently, it has. On his final visit to Iraq, President George W. Bush appeared in a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. As Bush wrapped up his remarks, an Iraqi television journalist, Muntathar al Zaidi, took off his shoes and hurled them one-by-one at President Bush saying “This is a goodbye kiss, you dog.” As another journalist and bodyguards began to pounce on Zaidi and pin him to the floor, he yelled “Killer of Iraqis. Killer of children.”
Though the current President displayed impressive reflexes, looking at this scene through a cultural lens makes it hard for me to find the humor in the moment. I read about it on my PDA yesterday evening, and my jaw dropped. The meaning in Arab culture (and in Indonesia) of having the sole of a shoe that has stepped on the untouchable exposed to your face. To be called a dog. It almost resembles something from a Naguib Mahfouz novel. For me this is a sad chapter in U.S. foreign affairs.