Monday, December 22, 2008

Man of the Year?

Last Monday, Time Magazine named their Person-of-the-Year. It definitely came as no surprise. It's a foregone conclusion that a new POTUS-Elect is going to score that honor. What came to a great surprise to me were many of the so-called runners-up named by Time magazine. Many of these were supernumeraries of the first water.

Had Time's publication date come a day later, the news cycle could have coughed up a first class Runner-Up. So, a week late, and albeit probably a dollar short, I present my Man-of-the-Year. This, too, should come to no surprise to 95% of my dwindling number of regular readers - because I choose for my person-of-the-year,

The shoe man,

Muntadhar al-Zaidi

He scarcely needs an introduction, as some past Time selections have. By now, everybody and his brother, world wide, knows al-Zaidi as the man who finally bearded the chickenhawk-in-chief on his own stage. Last Sunday, for the first time in all medialand, a journalist has thrown Bush something besides a softball. And there was a follow-up, too! As he threw first one shoe and then the other, al- Zaidi shouted words which are already immortal - in Arabic as well as in their translated English:
This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people.

This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.

You are a dog. You killed the Iraqis!
I thought so much of this history-making event, I immediately published the You-Tube. I was not alone in recognizing the importance of al-Zaidi's confrontation with Bush. It was this week's most popular, playing everywhere in print and media.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi is a 29 years old Iraqi broadcast
journalist who works as a correspondent for Cairo-based, Iraqi-owned Al-Baghdadia TV. Al-Zaidi's reports often on the front lines of the resistance, highlightly the plight of widows, orphans, and children in the Iraq war occupation. He’s seen plenty of action. For example, on 16-Nov-07, he was kidnapped by an unidentified militia. He has been arrested twice by American forces. He lives within central Baghdad in a furnished two room apartment. Ahmed Alaa, a close friend and colleague of Zaidi's at al-Baghdadia television, said of his journalism,
One of his best reports was on Zahra, a young Iraqi school girl killed by the occupation forces while en route to school. This report earned him the respect of many Iraqis and won him many hearts in Iraq.
Alaa also said. Zaidi once also turned down an offer to work for what he termed "a pro-occupation channel".

So much for his newly cobbled/minted biography. We can accept that he has blossomed into a Islam-wide urban myth by now.

The question is, how do I as an American nationalist react?

The first thing I have to put down is any notion that this shoeing of
the drugstore cowboy who occupies the White House was a physical attack endangering his life. It would have been an attack on the prez if the objects had been hand grenades or rocks. But the throwing of shoes in the Middle East in comparable to throwing eggs, tomatoes or pies in the West. It is a physically harmless act of casting contempt on the target.

Bush fully deserves this contempt.

The second thing I have to put down is the argument that the
shoeing of the American POTUS demonstrates how far his democratization of Iraqi society has proceeded. Quite the contrary. Just as before, al-Zaidi has been beaten after his arrest and tortured after imprisonment. This is typical, non-transparent Middle Eastern Medieval justice. Malicki (always the court jester) accuses al-Zaida, in a roundabout American-ist way, of being a terrorist:
Muntazer al-Zaidi has expressed regret in a letter I received from him in which he revealed that an individual persuaded him to commit this action and that this person is well-known for beheading people.
Would that American journalists throw something at Bush and Cheney besides salvos of soft balls. The two of them have been throwing their shoes of contempt at us for eight years. Deepak Chopra states my argument:
George W. Bush Has Been Throwing Shoes at Us:
  • The unilateral invasion of Iraq was an insult to our allies, who had been naive enough to trust in six decades of cooperation through NATO and the UN.

  • The distortion and outright lying about Saddam's imminent threat to the United States was an insult to everyone's intelligence.

  • The placing of responsibility for 9/11 on Saddam's shoulders was an insult to the truth.
As he makes the rounds of exit interviews, Mr. Bush continues to throw shoes at us. His "So what?" attitude toward the disaster he created is the first shoe, the second is his blind assertion that the war in Iraq is close to victory.
Al-Zaidi has cut a new path in journalism and has cast sunlight on the judgment of the Bush legacy.

Our emperor has no clothes, So someone has finally stepped forward to give him shoes. That deed makes the shoe-man not only a desperately needed man-of-the-hour, but it also makes Muntazer al-Zaidi my man-of-the-year.


  1. An excellent post, as ususal. A wise choice for Man of the Year (by both you and Time Magazine)

    Believe me, you have no shortage of readers and people who appreciate your consistency, honor and integrity.... not to mention who fine writing and blog composition skills.

    But enough flattery! Let me send you my early wishes for a Merry Christmas and a New Year that delivers all the hope that the election of Barack Obama promised.

    God Bless Us every one!

  2. You get my award of best read of the day. I'm also heartened that the company making the brand of shoe thrown is flooded with orders for that particular shoe. I share all your feelings about this journalist. I hope he's okay, and if I were the praying type, I send him prayers.

  3. Okay I'll write it, doesn't everyone wish Al-Zaidi's aim could have been just a little better?

  4. Beach, I swear we're on the same mind set today. Yes, I'm regretful that Muntadhar al-Zaidi missed. My favorite conservative blogger was piqued and posted against those of us who applauded the flying shoes. I barely refrained from offending, but my fondness for her kept me restrained (for once).

    Vig, I will always be here reading your blog. Who do you think inspired me to give 'em hell and always research before I rant?

    This is a wonderful post, but that's nothing new for you.

    I browsed through Time myself, and was particularly touched by the "Fond Farewell" section to George Carlin. I've been blog challenged lately. Maybe I'll get better after January 20. Just 26 more days.

    Muntadhar al-Zaidi is my Man of the Year, too.

  5. Thanks to Stella and Swiftspeech, I became addicted to the game SockAndAwe. I'm too embarrassed to record my score, but I am proud that my countrymen are champs!

  6. I was looking at my last two post's comments and there you were with the sweetest thing said to me this year. Thank you dear. You're THAT smart, too. I've learned a lot from you. Stella mentions it too.

  7. I'm just hoping that Obama can be the man of 2009, too. The real test is clearly ahead.

  8. I hope you both have a wonderful holiday. Thank you for being a great mentor.

  9. Absolutely fabulous post. As always!

  10. Shoe-Hurler Raises Up Iraq’s Reputation Abroad NYT

  11. GetaLife—wonderful article. If not the man of the year, Vig, at least in the Top 10. Sadly, The journalist was hustled out of the room and arrested. He remains in jail and has been tested for for alcohol and drugs to determine his state of mind, said a government official, who requested anonymity. [CNN]

    This statement is ironically priceless: In a statement read on the air, Al-Baghdadia said al-Zaidi should be freed "in accordance with democracy and freedom of expression Iraqis were promised by the new era and American authorities."

    On Windows into Palestine, I found many, many links. Of course, this site has an agenda.

    Me? Oh, I just hope al-Zaidi is not suffering.