Prominent Iraqis Denounce Hooliganism of Bush Shoe-Chucker
Prominent Iraqis are speaking out against the hooliganism of shoe-chucker Muntazer al-Zaidi.
Dr. Sabah Salih, Professor of English at Bloomsburg University, denounced the attack on President Bush in a terrific article at the Kurdish Media website:
Crossing the line between journalism and hooliganism
There has always been a coarse side to Iraqi culture, made much coarser by decades of tyranny under Saddam. Saddam essentially erased the life of the mind. Under his watch, public language was transformed into a gruesome instrument for demeaning and demonizing all opponents. Overtime, that language became as brutal and as vulgar as the regime’s other means and methods. Argument, persuasion, debate, and respect for words were replaced with denunciations, crude name-calling, wild accusations, and bombastic statements. Language use became like combat: the enemy was to be subjected to a ferocious linguistic attack until he would be left speechless. Next came the more gruesome part: the person’s head would be shaven, part of his ears would be cut off, in some cases part of the tongue as well; the poor fellow would then be paraded in public, kicked and spat at repeatedly.
This pattern was repeated in less gruesome forms at virtually every level—the workplace, the school, the university, the neighborhood, the security checkpoint, because everyone with a little power felt entitled to act and talk like the dictator himself. A hapless kid in class would be kicked, called a dog, donkey, or monkey amid the roaring laughter of his classmates. A citizen, without political connections, visiting a government office, would be rudely asked to wait outside or come back another day without being offered an explanation.
What I am about to describe may seem far-fetched for those accustomed to living in a civil society, but it was really part of the everyday under Saddam. I was among a crowd of about 200 waiting outside this prison, which was run by the military police, when a middle-aged woman walked up to one of the guards, asking when we would be allowed to go in. Visitation was once a month for just one hour. The guard shoved and kicked the woman repeatedly calling her the usual names until she was on the ground. When a couple of elderly women helped the woman get back on her feet, she said to one in particular, “Allah, you are my witness; what did I do to deserve this?”
My point is that, in various forms, what was done to Bush has been done to the Iraqi people a million times over; it continues to be done. It was done to me by my parents when I was too little to fend for myself, later by some of my teachers, in particular, my foul-mouthed, stick-wielding English teacher; and when I became a teacher myself I felt the position gave me the right to be as mean and as cruel as I wanted to be towards my student. Meanness and cruelty, I was told by colleagues, would translate into respect. Sadly, they were right. At home, I felt my male gender gave me the right to treat my little sisters in the same way. This social disease was the norm.
Iraqis can smell a Saddam loyalist a mile away, even as in this case the employer is a Cairo-based television station funded by the late dictator’s former henchmen. This hooligan, Muntadar al-Zaidi, tries to portray himself as the champion of the oppressed, but most Iraqis hear a familiar tune in his words, one, amazingly, much of the western media either can’t or doesn’t want to hear: it is the language of victimhood, liberation, and anti-colonialism in whose name Saddam justified his decades-long occupation of Iraq and turned genocide and village burning and mass graves into acts of heroism.
Try for a second to imagine this shoe-throwing hooligan as a father, husband, brother, neighbor, school teacher, policeman, judge: I don’t think the general pattern of his behavior and thinking would be any different, because his ugly deed pretty much defines his character; it also defines the milieu that cheers him. Regrettably, the social disease that gave us Saddam and his crudeness and cruelty continues to infect much of the Arab world.
If it is such hooliganism that gives the noisy part of Arab and Islamic political culture reason to feel good about itself, then another century will have to pass before shoe-throwing gives way to language as a means of debate, questioning, and understanding.
Another prominent Iraqi ripped Arab supporters of the shoe-chucker today at the Kurdistan Times.
It is not strange that a reporter from “Al Baghdadia” channel welcomed the President of the United States with this subhuman style and he is the guest of Iraq and with him the elected Prime Minister. These people ( Al Baghdadia journalist) only understand the language that they used (throwing shoes at President Bush) because freedom and democracy are not for the murderers and animals from “Al Baghdadia” channel, and “Al Jazeera” channel, and thank you Hussnei Moubarak.. Thank you all the Arab Moukhabart (intelligence services) who thought that Iraq and its people are villagers from the villages of Kureish…you have been disappointed…what you have done to the honored guest of Iraq (President Bush) is nothing but a continuation of your history…but the new Iraq is free from this collar. Iraq is back to its legitimate owners. There is no place for murderers in the new Iraq. The genie is out of the bottle.
For the free word and for the dignity of the journalists, I send an invitation from this forum to each journalist who wants to keep journalism away from dirt, to denounce this act that is far from the manners and far from the good taste. From your information, the ex-lawyer of Saddam formed a team from one hundred lawyers to defend this journalist who is foreign to journalism and I call for the shutting down for “Al Baghdadia” channel which proved herself and those who work for her that they are a tool from the tools of division and murder.
Don’t expect the US media to report on the enraged Iraqi voices speaking out against the Bush attacker.
It doesn’t fit in with their lectures and jokes against America and Bush.
The US media thinks assaulting the Republican President is a joke. I can’t imagine they’d think it was so funny if Bambi got smacked in the face with a shoe.