As is being widely reported today, a credentialed journalist threw two shoes at outgoing US president George W. Bush during a press conference in Iraq yesterday. BagNewsNotes has the usual interesting analysis, with a nod toward previous shoes hurled at politicians in Iraq. The New York Times has another video of the incident from an angle different from the animated gif above. As one commenter on metafilter notes, Bush’s reaction is that of a man who has clearly had things thrown at him before.
The symbolism of shoes being thrown may be lost on western viewers, though the meaning is being widely reported. The above video, from Iraq in 2003, shows a man defiling a banner of Saddam Hussein with his shoes. I remember photos and video of kids attacking the fallen statue of Hussein in Baghdad in 2003, also, but can’t find those images. Getty has a typical picture of men attacking a statue with their shoes.
I’m particularly struck by the photo chosen by the New York Times to lead their coverage. The photo by Saul Loeb of the AFP, shows Bush, blurry and indistinct, while Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki remains standing with arms outstretched. Here we have an Iraqi, standing tall and staying the course, protecting the American.