Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Arab Shoes

I was originally going to stay with posts of stories and myths about the Christmas season for the next several days, but the shoe throwing incident engenders these thoughts.

You know the childhood rhyme, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me”.

I would offer a modern day alternative: “sticks and shoes can break the rules, but names can never hurt me”.

I think President George W. Bush missed a valuable opportunity in Baghdad when a disgruntled Iraqi television journalist threw his shoes at the President and yelled insults. Throwing shoes at another person is one of the more profound insults you can do to another in the Arab world.

Unless he is permanently mired into the world of privileged and presidential illusion, Mr. Bush has got to understand that he is not very popular in many parts of this world; especially the Arab world.

The shoe throwing incident would have been a perfect time for Mr. Bush to say, “I am not insulted by the shoe throwing, just as you would not be insulted if gestures considered an insult in the West were directed at you. It is not part of our culture. What it shows is our cultural differences, our societal misunderstandings and especially the need for each of us to be tolerant, considerate and loving as both the Koran and the Bible instruct.”

If I were the President I would have immediately and publicly forgiven the man to defuse the situation and offered a sit-down interview with him to discuss perceived differences and old pain and I would have said to the world there is no insult to the Office of the Presidency that history cannot counter with good works, generosity and a continued treasured sacrifice for the potential betterment of humankind.

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