Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Ms. Brooks: The Shoe Scene 'Round The World

Nothing in recent memory has quite grabbed the interest or the ink and electrons than the symbolic gesture offered by Iraqi journalist Muntather Zaidi in throwing his shoes at President Bush. Mr. Bush claimed not to understand the gesture, but the insult was clear as glass to just about every other person in the world.

Rosa Brooks analysed the whole episode in her latest column. She contrasted Mr. Zaidi's response to the Bush war in Iraq with the more deadly response chosen by others frustrated by crushing poverty and powerlessness in a world ruled by such as the Bush administration.

Zaidi could have lobbed a grenade at a passing U.S. convoy or strapped on a suicide bomber's vest and hurled himself toward the Green Zone. But he didn't. He just threw his shoes, a gesture laden with symbolism but not truly dangerous to anyone but himself (he was lucky the Secret Service agents didn't shoot him).

By willingly risking prison and death just to throw those shoes, he reminded the powerful and powerless alike that a single symbolic gesture can be more effective than a thousand grenades.

While technically not a non-violent act (as Ms. Brooks notes in her concluding paragraph), Zaidi's gesture was indeed a reminder that the powerful can be made to blink when confronted with a determined truth-teller. It's a lesson not unlike the one offered by the two hundred or so employees of Republic Window and Doors, who occupied the company's closed plant until they got the wages and benefits they had earned.

The tactics are ones we should be learning because it is clear that simply electing Barack Obama president is not going to end the evil and corruption which has taken over this nation and its government. If we want this country to be what we've all been taught it is, then it's our job to make it so. It's no longer a matter of "picking our battles" or "keeping our powder dry." Each battle has to be fought, powder be damned.

Whether it's just synchronicity, happy happenstance, or a universe bending towards justice, we've been given some dramatic lessons over the past few weeks. It's time to hit the books and then the streets each time it's necessary.



Blogger shrimplate said...

We have to trust that we as a people will abandon policies that fail for the many though a select few profit greatly. We simply must work for our own best interests, and I think we have a Constitution that allows for this.

And we have to be mindful of the psychopaths that wander among us.

8:38 AM  

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