If the shoe fits…

December 17th, 2008


I have been reading with amusement the stories about the Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at George W. Bush.

There were two key points about the journalist’s actions. Firstly, he threw footware, which is highly insulting in Arab culture. Secondly, he called Bush a “dog”, which is highly insulting in Arab culture.

Of course, it’s not as insulting perhaps as blowing somebody up, so it left Mr. Bush with enough room to be magnanimous and “harbour no hard feelings.”

My view is that if you are going to bother insulting someone, you have to do it in their own cultural terms, not yours. Waving your shoes at a Westerner and calling him a dog makes you look like a character in a bad 1950s Foreign Legion movie, Mr. Zaidi. The President and his staff were probably laughing themselves silly all they way home. “And then he said ‘You dog!’, the President probably guffawed as his staff rolled around Airforce One in hysterics.

All except Dana Perino, of course, she was too busy applying a steak to her eye.

To properly insult Mr. Bush, you need to shout something like:

  • Yawl’s about as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party


  • The engine’s runnin’ but ain’t nobody driving

The one thing that Mr. Zaidi perhaps did not consider in his fury is that had he pulled that stunt with Saddam Hussein, he would have ended up wearing his shoes… on the inside.

It would appear that subsequent to his arrest, Mr. Zaidi suffered broken ribs and internal bleeding. Well, that’s what happens when you go throwing heavy shoes around.

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