December 14, 2008
But. . . is it good for the shoes?
(Apologies to an old parochial expression.) President Bush encounters one meaning of leading a sole superpower when a journalist in Baghdad tosses his footwear at the US head of state. The arch terrorist reportedly shouted "This is the End". Jim Morrison is sadly incapable of comment.
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My favorite part is how every western news outlet is quick to point out that having a shoe thrown at you is a grave insult in Arab cultures...as if having a shoe thrown at you were *not* an insult in western cultures...
Posted by: Djuha at December 15, 2008 11:38 AM
Djuha: I've seen a lot of people pile on that point, but I think it's not entirely fair: sure, it's obvious that it's an insulting gesture to anyone who thinks about it twice, but it's also something that no Westerner would ever think of doing.
(Actually, is shoe-throwing a common expression of disdain? Do losing football coaches or other national disgraces have shoes thrown at them in the airport?)
Posted by: Tom Scudder at December 15, 2008 02:45 PM
no Westerner would ever think of doing
Well, I have to say I wasn't aware this, specifically, would be a common occurence in any Arab country either...
"you dog" OTOH is indeed typically Arab.
Perhaps it's not exactly common, but at least one westerner thought of it back in 2005.
All and all, not a bad trend.
Posted by: Djuha at December 15, 2008 04:41 PM
Very interesting, the context. Maybe that's where the Iraqi reporter got his idea to begin with.
"you dog" OTOH is indeed typically Arab
Not if you render it, per both literal and connotative senses, as "you son of a bitch".
Thats how I'd translate "kalb" where applicable.
OTOH, I go with the middle ground: there is an added shoe-as-contempt sense in many (not just Arab or MENA or Muslim) traditional societies but throwing shoes is still a gesture that doesnt require having that sense. To show hostility anyone can grab a shoe; specific contempt is an added local sense that probably was intended here.
In the US, we use food or eggs preferably.
In terms of mechanics, the guy would make a helluva pitcher, and Bush not a bad batter. Maliki would suck as catcher though.
Posted by: matthew hogan at December 15, 2008 07:57 PM
This was a fun read:
I was definitely impressed by Bush's reactions though. And disturbed to hear the journalist getting beat up.
Posted by: M. at December 15, 2008 09:07 PM
Now you, too, can throw a shoe at Bush (flash game).
Posted by: Tom Scudder at December 15, 2008 09:44 PM
"shoe insurgent", good one.
disturbed to hear the journalist getting beat up
Iraq's people, who *were* Saddam's system, are not going to be changed by an invasion, right bolshy mush hallucinations notwithstanding. If he only got beaten up, then he actually got a pretty good deal. More serious torture was/is my expectation.
Matt, agree re SOB.
Calling someone a "kalb" (dog) in Arabic is much worse than calling someone a "son of a bitch" in English. Dogs are considered unclean to the point that having one as a pet is considered a sign of Westernization, and then we're mainly talking about "cute" ones like poodles or chihuahuas.
Hitting someone with the sole of one's shoe is, indeed, a "cultural thing" in the Arab world (or at least in Mesopotamia and environs). While elsewhere throwing a shoe at someone is obviously a sign of ... errr ... displeasure, it's not a ritual per se. When traveling to the West, nobody will caution you to "never show the soles of your feet to someone, as they think it's rude."
Posted by: MSK* at December 16, 2008 04:05 AM
What was on the bottom of the shoes. The last line is by far the best:
Posted by: pantom at December 17, 2008 08:48 PM
Apparently the whole debacle has been QUITE good for the shoes.
Posted by: Eva Luna at December 23, 2008 05:34 PM