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Tikrit: Where the Shoe Pinches

Do you know what this is?

It's a newly erected six foot monument in Tikrit that has been built in honor of Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi, who recently threw a shoe at our former President.

This makes me want to smack someone upside the head.  Really, really hard.

I'm just not sure who.  I'm no fan of George W. Bush, but, this?

I find this very unacceptable.

This isn't some crazy, lone terrorist driving an explosive ridden vehicle into some army barracks.

This is a monument.  Monuments cost money.  There's paperwork to be filled out.  Permits that have to be approved. People have to donate supplies.  It's a community effort.

In other words, this shoe is a big community "Eff you" not just to George W. Bush, but to the entire population of the United States.

Including us left wing nut jobs who didn't want to get into this ridiculous war in the first place.

Because we're just a big "let-me-vomit-my-values-all-over-you-whoops-was-that-a-hospital?" blob to them.  Just like they're looking like a big blob of giant shoe building crazies to us, right now.

I know that Tikrit is Saddam's hometown.  But he was a dictator.  An evil dictator.  Right?


It's a good thing our government hasn't spent the last eight years dumping trillions of dollars and precious young American lives thinking that the people who built this monument would think of us as liberators.

It's an even better thing we weren't trying to win their hearts and minds.

And, my goodness, can you imagine if we had spent all that time and effort doing this in order to give these shoe building hooligans the right to democratic self rule when clearly they are still, three years later, fuming at us for executing their former blood drinking dictator*?

Oh.  We have?

Well, damn.  That's problematic.


We can't force democracy on a people.

If by chance we do succeed, I'm sure that there's only one thing upon which all the little factions in their newly formed democracy will be able to form a consensus:  how much they hate us.

And us?  We'll be left asking ourselves if the shoe fits.**

*Poetic license.  I'm pretty sure he didn't drink blood.

**(Yeah.  I went there.  It's called a pun.)***

***(You love it.)

Reader Comments (27)

If there consensus is that they hate us, at least the citizens are the ones making that decision, not some self-appointed dictator! :P

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

Dude. Dictators aren't self appointed. They have a lot of help from a significant number of their populations in getting to where they are. Plus, you *do* realize that you said "there consensus?!" GRAMMAR FAIL. You obviously smoked crack tonight, that's the only viable explanation for that given your usually mad skills in this area.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa


I was originally writing, "If there was a consensus" and then edited myself.

I think I"ll go hang myself now.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

I dunno.

If I didn't think I would wind up in jail I would have thrown a couple of shows at Dubya myself over the past few years. And I would be honored to have a monument built on my behalf.

That was an evil, evil fucking man and he deserved to have more than shoes thrown at him.

Sorry if this offends anyone.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB.E. Earl

Shoes, not shows. Of course.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB.E. Earl

My Mom and I were justtalking about this earlier today. My Mom was like I can't believe how many people hate him, we did after all elect him twice! Let's just show some respect, he's not president anymore. Just let him live in peace.

My Mom is so cute. And it totally made me think of you.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

For starters, you were great on the show last night!

When I was in college, I remember my sociology professor telling us that you can't force a country to industrialize before its time. That statement has been in the back of my head for about 15 years.

As far as the monument, I find it offensive. Like you said, it was a community effort to make it happen. I hate feeling like I'm judged based on the action of one person.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

Thank you. For too many years I have been saying that we can't force democracy on people if they don't want it. It seems to me that when we, as a country, do this, it is for our own perceived benefit. Democracy is a result of evolution of thought of the people.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKailyn

If anything, I think that monument should've been erected in D.C. or Crawford, TX. Just sayin'.

But, yes, I listened to the show after the fact and agree with you that we cannot force our political stance on people that don't want it. That's just how it is. I view Democracy the same way I view Christianity... some people love it, some people hate it. Let those who love it, love it; and let those who hate it, hate it. Plus both are too new to completely trump the variants that came before them. How can a religion that is a mere 2,000 years old consider themselves to be more entitled than one that's been around double, triple, or more the amount of time?

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkapgar

I'm going to cling to the hope that the shoe was thrown at a man - and not at a nation.

And honestly? Throwing that shoe was pretty fucking brave. And very, dare I say, American.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

I have to stop by and let you know that I gave you an award on my bloggy blog :)

AND I second what Miss Britt says. I do hope the shoe was thrown at a man and not a nation. I hope.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanelle

I don't understand why you want to smack someone upside their head.

Isn't the ability to freely demonstrate your feelings and opinions about either a person, a nation or a policy without fear of repercussions what democracy is all about? Isn't freedom of expression, speech, and press the cornerstones of being a Left Wing Liberal?

Whether it was forced or not... throwing a shoe, building a monument to a shoe thrower, or electing a terrorist organization to power in government they are all examples of democracy in action. So yeah... democracy got forced on people because had they done those things previously they would have ended up in jail or executed. Whether they realize it or not, whether we agree with it or not, they are DOING democratic things.

Of this, there can be no denial as the above picture indicates.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNYCWD

You make a good point. And so does Dawg. My head hurts.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFinn

Shoulder shrugging, I have found, is the paramount defense against an insult. Nothing turns the negative energy of a hater around on him faster than denying him the power to insult you.

Dogs, shoes, fingers, fists, names, gestures, spit, left hands, body parts - there's no end of things that can be used as the means of insult. But if I don't care what you think how can you harm me?

As you can see, I have spent the major part of my life trying to make sure I'm the only one living inside my head.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRW

I agree with NYCWD...Dubya wanted to give them democracy and "free the Iraqi people"...well guess what...building a monument in honor of someone who threw a shoe at a political figure is an acceptable form of expression in a democracy.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTariq

@Avitable: Heh. I think you're credibility is still intact. Put the noose down.

@B.E. Earl: Hmm. Come to think of it, I would have thrown "rent" at him. I hated that show. Wait. What?

@Sarah: Oh, was I not clear? I *do* dislike him very, very, very much. But, he didn't make these decisions by himself. The entire Congress (save one) supported him in this war. Plus, this was an extremely difficult time to be president. Extremely difficult. I'm not going to go off the deep end hating someone for doing a job poorly that 99% of the world's population could never even come close to doing in the first place. I remind you of your mom? It's official. I'm old. :P

@Becky: Mmmhmm & thanks.

@Kailyn: Right, they have to actually *want* it.

@kapgar: I think your parallel between religion and democracy is an apt one.

@Miss Britt: I would like to hope what you hope, but I think the likelihood that Iraqis view us as separate from our government is proportional to the number of people here who view Arabs, Afghanis, Pakistanis or Iranis as being separate from Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Hamas or Ahmednijad (sp?).
Iraqis have only ONE experience of us: the one of being illegally invaded TWICE. Given that they know we are a democracy, and the we elect our leaders, I think assuming that they don't hate all of us, forgive me, is a little naive. The human condition is to group people together, a very few enlightened individuals understand the need for or benefit of differentiation.
And I disagree about shoe throwing being very American. Americans have a long tradition of defiance and resistance, but we also have a long tradition of respectful diplomacy. We may have dumped some tea in the Boston Harbor, but I don't recall reading any stories of George Washington throwing shoes at Gen, Cornwallis back in the day.
I understand *why* he threw the shoe, but I still think it's a condemnable act. For a man who writes for a living, he should be ashamed of himself. His act reflected the defeat of knowledge, reason and and faith in education in favor of unchecked childish violence. Throwing a shoe in the Arab world is the exactly the same thing as flinging shit on someone. Americans, in my opinion, are far more civilized than that. As they should be.

@Janelle: Oh, why thank you!!

@NYCWD: I said I wasn't sure who... because I think everyone's a little responsible for what I see as a breakdown in diplomacy. I'm conflicted about the man' actions because he's an educated man in a population of people who have an inaccurate reputation for being illiterate. I think he let his emotions outweigh his responsibilities. It was just a really base act. As for the people of Tikrit, why not build a monument to the countless Arab journalists who have been writing about this war and deploring American involvement in the region since it started happening in the 1960s? They've dedicated their lives, spent time in prison, had family members killed... but, no, let's build a monument to the guy that throws a shoe?? It's disappointing, and this disappointment stems not from my American side, but from my Asian/ME side.

I don't oppose democracy or free expression of hatred/thought/ideology (even if it is completely anti-American). My point was that when we force democracy on other nations, this is EXACTLY what will happen. Their consensus will be against us, therefore it is seldom in OUR best interest to initiate or promote democracy in other nations. They have to come up with the idea themselves. THEY have to want it first... all of them, not just a small percentage of the population that has been disenfranchised by the current government. We have to be extremely cautious when offering help, if we offer any, at all.

And they may *be* doing democratic things, but our intervention has clouded their minds in such a way that they are focusing on getting back at us for a perceived harm instead of doing democratic things in their OWN self interest. This is how an organization like Hamas gets elected. Because people are sick and tired of being pushed around by the West, so they vote for a party that has no other agenda than to punish the West. Meanwhile, their children do not have schools to go to, they don't have homes to live in, and they have no economic infrastructure.

We have to start examining whether promoting democracy through the use of military force has any real long term benefit to us or the nations that we invade. What use is a democracy in which all of the people are so hell bent on revenge that they can't even act in their own self interest? That's just democracy's sake for democracy's sake.

@Finn: :)

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

And yet, they're the ones stuck looking at a fricking SHOE monument.
I really feel like it should be how it is on Star Trek (and I am not even remotely a trekkie!): - you can go help other people, but you do not interfere or impose your values on them. That even made sense to me at about, 6 years old.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

@RW: Well, maybe when *I* am 100, I won't let people bother me, either. LOL. Kidding. I know you're not 100. I'm afraid to let myself be the only one in my head. I'm a very bad roommate.

@Tariq: Well, yeah, I agree with that, too. I'm not implying they should be punished or even that they were wrong. It's OK for them to act like illiterate idiots, just as it's OK for me to notice.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

OK, so I'm confused here who you're disappointed in.

Us, for cramming democracy down their throat?

Or them, for responding to it poorly?

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

Sorry, I was momentarily stupified to see the error in the comment Adam left.

Anyway. It is tacky, it's a big "#*&%^ youto GWB and America (IMO), but...isn't this the kind of thing that *we* wanted to give...freedom? Democracy?

Like head hurts. I did enjoy the part of the show I listened to the other was awesome to hear you really get passionate about the topic. You have a new reader!

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I think the 'monument'--as tacky and base as it is--is freedom of expression.

I think that anytime you attempt to force something that needs to be organic you can have an epic failure.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTurnbaby

I hate that we invaded Iraq. I hate that too many of our men and women have died in a war that we shouldn't have started.

I also hate the Saddam exterminated hundreds of thousands of Kurds. I hate that Saddam's oldest son Uday raped his way through Baghdad and that his second son Qusay ordered the bombings of Kurdish and Shi'ite settlements.

And finally, I hate that many Iraqis hate us, even though we got rid of those nuts and helped them form a democracy. At the expense of their young fighters, too. And that they hate me without even knowing me.

But I love. Love. Love. That the reporter was able to throw his shoe and live to tell the tale. And I love that the people of Tikrit, using their democratic-given right to freedom of speech and expression, could build this monument as a spit-in-the-eye to the Americans and that they were not punished for it.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCoal Miner's Granddaughter

What I meant was that my Mom doesn't get why so many people think it's ok to be so disrespectful towards him since the majority elected him twice.

And you are not old! You don't remind me of my mom, I just thought of you because it was a political conversation is all.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

The erection of one monument does not mean the majority support it. Or even would tolerate it. But since a lot of times in places like Tikrit things are done without the blessing of the majority, who knows how the monument really came about? I know *I* don't - I know nothing of this monument save for your picture and your description.

I hope someone doesn't see a solitary picture / monument of a burning cross from Mississippi and assume "community effort," "that's representative of their nation," and stuff like that.

I agree we can't force a democracy. But we can help a democratic intent, however small and fledgling, gain strength and thwart their oppressors. I don't think we forced democracy in this case. At least, not to the citizens. To Saddam? yes, we forced democracy.

There's a long list of countries that are now free thanks to the US (solely or as a helper). France, Germany, Norway, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Algeria, Morocco, Romania, Kosovo, Panama, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Denmark, Kuwait, Egypt, Montenegro, New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Greece, Russia, Tunisia, Ukraine, Albania, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Libya, Korea, Japan, Italy.

I'm glad we play the role we do with all the resources we have. Can you imagine how we'd be as a country with all our talents, education, money, time, and standard of living if we'd just looked the other way at all the above countries?

The soldiers I've talked to tell me of thankful Iraqis. The media, however, only tells me of horror stories.

I'll believe the soldiers, thank you.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwhall

@Sybil Law: LOL. It's called the Prime Directive. I am so embarrassed that I even knew that.

@Miss Britt: Yes. I'm disappointed. In everyone. Humanity, in general. Us for forcing democracy on them, him for acting like a tacky bastard, and them for spending money on building a freakin' shoe in their town square instead of, I don't know, buying books for the universities that don't have any.

@Stephanie: Tacky. Yes, that's really what I wanted to say. It's just tacky. I'm not disputing anyone's right to throw shoes. They have a right to throw shoes, I have a right to think it's tacky.

@Turnbaby: Yes, oc, I don't disparage the right to erect the monument. I am disappointed in it, nonetheless.

@Coal Miner's Granddaughter: I wonder, though, would they have been allowed to erect a monument disparaging one of their local leaders or some religious figure?

@Sarah: Oh, I know, I was just kidding. But, thanks for clearing that up for me.

@whall: I didn't think of it in terms of a cross burning. That's a good point. I don't really have my finger on the pulse of the Iraqi population to necessarily contradict anything you've said with any degree of real credibility. I, too, have heard stories from soldiers of Iraqis being thankful and gracious to them. But, like the people of Tikrit don't symbolize all of Iraq as you so aptly pointed out, the individuals speaking to the soldiers don't either.

That said, the methodology by which we promoted democracy in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia is no longer a nation!) is far different than the methods we used to promote it in Afganistan. I'm not against supporting democracy, I'm against forcing it on people that are either unwilling or unprepared for self rule. I'm against expending American lives and dollars on it, too.

And... I hope you know that I'm not trying to be a Miss Smarty Pants here, but Kuwait is technically a constitutional emirate which is a fancy way of saying it's a monarchy with a constitution. Morocco is also constitutional monarchy, and Libya is pretty much an authoritarian dictatorship. And all these governments are in place despite repeated Western efforts to instill democracies. Just FYI. :-)

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I thought that was a joke at first, because it seriously is a huge eff you to not only Bush but everyone in the States :(

Ugh, some people!

January 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastica

Nice discussion. Great blog. I love it when people can disagree without calling each other names. Awesome!

Oh, and I don't think that's a monument. I think it's the lost and found. Shaqueille O'Neal must of lost his shoe on his last visit.

February 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertwinkie

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