Congratulations to Muntadar al-Zaidi for seizing the moment, making the most memorable statement of any journalist at any press conference held by George W. Bush ever. “This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq,” he said, as he took off his shoes and threw them at the U.S. President before being wrestled to the floor.
The BBC is describing him as a “Bush shoe attacker”, but the journalist’s statement was delivered in a kind of symbolic violence, something akin to throwing a tomato. The possibility of some minor bruising exists, but that isn’t the point. The point is to send a message that cannot be ignored to someone who has placed himself beyond the reach of criticism.
Right now, Muntadar al-Zaidi is being interrogated, by law enforcement officials seeking to discover whether he was part of a larger shoe-throwing conspiracy. They’re inadvertently helping to expand the protest’s significance.
Muntadar al-Zaidi was right to place his act in context. The shoe attack is being condemned as a terrible act, but how many of those who have talked about the grave irresponsibility of throwing a shoe at the President praised the bombing of Iraq and urged stronger attacks in Iraqi civilian neighborhoods?