http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/12/21/bush-shoe-iraq-oped-cx_tv_1221varadarajan.html [Via Instapundit]
'The Arabs, who once upon a time boasted Averroes and Avicenna, are now reduced to eulogizing a boorish act of agitprop as a heroic achievement. America gave us Martin Luther King; South Africa gave us Mandela; India gave us Gandhi; the Arab world gives us ... Muntader-al-Zaidi. A people who invented the zero are now reduced, themselves, to zero. Only a people who live under the boots of their rulers celebrate the throwing of a shoe at a guest.'
I didn't think I'd ever comment again about this teeny tiny nothingness, but it seems everybody in the world other than me thinks its a REALLY BIG DEAL. Ok, make that, me and George W. Bush, who just laughed it off. There has been an awful lot of harrumphing about this in the US, which detracts somewhat from the air of confidence an un-challenged superpower would be expected to display. Why?
I can't help thinking about the difference in national temperament that this brings to the fore. At the height of Britain's power in the world, innumerable insults were sent the way of Britons. Its just part of the whole package of empire and military dominance. The British response was usually nothing. A response would dignify the insulter with an importance that was not merited. If some physical harm was done to goods or persons, that was different, and could merit some very harsh medicine. But words are just words. A petulantly thrown shoe is just a petulantly thrown shoe. The rage this has evoked in many parts of Americas body-politic is an indicator of unfamiliarity with and great sensitivity to genuine hostility. The kind of hostility that enormous power and wealth are guaranteed to provoke.
I suggest getting out more, perhaps to other countries. That, and paying attention to the real-world consequences of empire.
Oh and also, the guy who threw the shoe had better get no more punishment than a smack on the wrist, or they will turn nothing into a definite something.