The bearing of one’s sole – or shoe throwing – specifically at figures of power seems to have successfully emerged as an effective means of global political expression.
I doubt President George W. Bush will soon forget having not one, but two shoes hurled at him (which he deftly dodged) by a furious Iraqi journalist last December 14th. The incident propelled the reporter into instant stardom – and a statue which has now been taken down was erected in his honor. The infamous flinger, Muntader al-Zaidi, is awaiting trial for the assault. Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez called him “courageous!”
A few days later, the gals at Code Pink tossed shoes at an effigy of President Bush in front of the White House.
Since then, we have seen footwear flying around the planet. In Britain this week, a protester chucked his running shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao while giving a speech at Cambridge University. He missed.
In Sweden, at Stockholm University, a female protester nailed Israeli Ambassador Benny Dagan in the chest with one of her of Manolos (okay, I’m on a roll here – they weren’t Blahniks as best I can tell from the grainy video on the web)!
And finally, here at home in Ithaca, New York, a man dressed in his 1950’s-era military uniform pulled shoes from a bag at last night’s Common Council Meeting hurtling them at Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson and Alderman J.R. Clairborne. Neither officials were struck thankfully, but the podiatric protester reportedly pulled a third shoe from his bag taunting the larger council with, “Who wants another one?!”
Now, a simple googling of this phenomenon produces numerous cultural and historical theories about the meaning and origins of the gesture. But one thing is pretty clear, the message is this: YOU are worse than the dirt and grime of the bottom of my shoe!
So what is the proper, politically correct response to your assailant?
Perhaps politicians should steal a line from International Man of Mystery Austin Powers who was struck by a shoe and responded with, “Who throws a shoe? Really. You fight like a woman!”
And what would Dr. Scholl have to say about this latest trend?
I imagine he’d say… DUCK!