The Shoe Heard Round the World

But rather than move on and pretend it never happened, amazingly, Bush returns to the shoe throwing. He turns it into a parable, crams it into his deluded concept of democracy, “That’s what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves. And so I guess he was affected, because he caused you to say something about it.”

But while Bush lauds civil dissent with one hand, he crushes it with the other. In an opinion piece by the editorial board, The New York Times said: “Mr. Zaidi had been severely beaten by security officers on Sunday after being tackled at the press conference and dragged out. While he has not been formally charged, Iraqi officials said he faced up to seven years in prison if convicted of committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state. No doubt he must face the charges – and punished if found guilty.”

“No doubt he must face the charges – and punished if found guilty.” Shame on The Times’ editors for giving such a de rigueur shrug for centrism instead of taking a stand. Al-Zaidi is looking at seven years in an Iraqi oubliette in the face. When will The Times have the courage to make the same call for Bush? True democracy requires us to be active participants. The lesson that can be gleaned from al-Zaidi’s rage is that the jelly-like stasis of the present can always be shattered; with a single act, all avenues of possibility widen. Outside of the week’s news stream talking points, many things are still possible. But al-Zaidi is not, as he has been lauded, a “folk hero.”

He’s just a guy who threw his shoes. It could have been any of us. And like all rebels who walk away from the cotillion of civility, he will be rewarded and punished by history. The biggest barrier to democracy is the fear of social transgression, the idea that democracy can be passively observed. We must be constant, active participants in our fates, rather than waiting for others that we can cheer on from the sidelines, to act on our behalf. Truthout/Posted byBulatlat.com

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