News about Muntader al-Zaidi, the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference this week, has traveled quickly to alternating responses of horror and glee. The NYTimes reported that “Calling someone the “son of a shoe” is one of the worst insults in Iraq,” adding a new spin to what was already an obviously angry, insulting gesture.
This bold action has added yet another symbolic meaning to the humble shoe: that of irate protest, against American troops in Iraq, specifically. “In the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, people calling for an immediate American withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing American convoy.” Some Iraqis said these protests were a direct result of the democracy advocated by America. Ah, sweet sloppy irony.
In searching for a picture of a pile of shoes to include with this post, I was reminded that shoes have historically not only embodied fetishistic sexuality, but also bitter oppression. Concentration camps like Auschwitz hoarded heaps of shoes of their Jewish victims. Shoes were also. valuable bartering merchandise in concentration camps.
By the way, $10 million has been offered to purchase the original infamous pair of black dress shoes. Consumeristic democracy in action!