The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Shoe" Fly Pie

I don't like to discuss politics on my blog. It inflames passions which are best left to others. My passions are about the incongruities of life and politics is just too big an incongruity to deal with in the few words of a blog post.

I am going to talk about the "shoe thrower". One Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a reporter for the Al-Baghdadiya TV station.

There have been some conflicting reports the last few days, he was beaten, he apologized for the incident, and, now, he has only apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. According to this report, he doesn't regret his actions and would do it again.

Apparently, the shoe thrower would bare his sole again if given a chance. But he also stated that he thought he would be killed by Bush's bodyguards before he could throw the second shoe.

If true, and it may not be since this is a report out of an Iranian news website, it reveals how little we understand of the Middle Eastern mindset and how little they understand of us. If he had been able to throw a shoe at a visiting head of state with the former President of Iraq, one Saddam Hussein, the guy would have been been dead in a day, his family would have disappeared, and the TV channel (which would not have existed anyway) would have been a pile of rubble. No one would be allowed to speak of it again.

In other words, there would be no stories about an apology that may not be one.

Regardless of what you think of George Bush or the war in Iraq, would you ever think the guy would have been killed for throwing a shoe or two? In the US, you can shoot the president and there's a chance you could be walking around free someday (John Hinckley, Jr).

In the west, we have news media that do this:

from UK's Daily Mail Online

On another note, there was a story on the CNN site about experiments conducted back in the 60s regarding the willingness of average people to do evil. Reading the CNN article, I recalled reading about them back then. I was not surprised then. I am still not surprised. I recommend reading it... Charting the Psychology of Evil

Sometimes I think we are all insane and it's just a matter of degree that separates us from those we think of as mad.


underOvr (aka The U) said...

Hi Douglas,

When I heard this story reported, my first thought was, "freedom of expression only happens in a free society; another place, another time, and this guy would not be able to appreciate his life".

We live in a world now where individual rights supercede human decency, respect, ethics and morality; making it justifiable to strap on a bomb and board a bus, train, or plane. It's a very slippery slope humans perch themselves on. However, the view is much different for those who lost "innocent ones" that were simply in the crosshairs of evil.

Thanks for an insightful post, which I'm sure will stir the pot of debate.


Embee said...

Maybe the guy thought he would be dead before he could throw the second shoe because in his culture it is such a serious and egregious insult. Had he thrown it at Saddam he probably would have been dead because of the depth of the insult, not because it was a projectile aimed at the president. To our culture it's not such a big insult. You can tell that by the bemused look on George's face as the shoes fly. He's thinking: "Hey, ain't that funny, that guy's throwin' a shoe at me!" If the guy had thrown anything that could have actually injured George, then he probably would have suffered much greater harm at the hands of the secret service (who seemed to have been asleep at the wheel, since they allowed the second shoe to get by them). I agree with you that our culture has no grasp of their culture whatsoever. That is clearly evidenced by how badly our administration misjudged everything about this war from the very outset. George and his cronies have expected to be able to reshape the country by western standards without taking into consideration the ancient and embedded nature of their culture and how different it is from our own.

Anyway, I always love your posts because they're so interesting and insightful. You make me think!

Michael said...

I don't understand the exact gravity of the issue. My political knowledge has always been poor (there's just so much of it out there.)

I don't like being naive, though. I've been reading almost everything to do with Obama's plans for next year, though. I figured that at my age, with a new American president to emerge now, I can more ease myself into keeping up-to-date with the news.

As I said, though, I am quite ignorant concerning the past and present relationships of Iraq and Afghanistan with the US. I thought it was plain funny when I saw the shoe-throwing incident the first time.

I will read Charting the Psychology of Evil. And I think your concluding sentence is quite a thinker.


Douglas said...

Underovr - I've often thought what it might be like to live in a rigid society with intricate rules of behavior, as well as what a dictatorship might be like. I got a glimpse of those on my travels in life. I don't think westerners can appreciate it.

Embee - You need to take a closer look at John Hinckley, Jr, and maybe Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, to understand what happens to people who attack our presidents. None have died and none have even been hurt at the hands of the Secret Service. I suspect the Secret Service people were not in a position to interfere with the thrower. One wonders what the people around him thought as he removed his shoes.

Michael - As always, an apt pupil.
The shoe throwing incident was, indeed, funny. It still is, to me, because of my culture and because I closely observed the reaction of President Bush. He was amused, why shouldn't I be? I thought his (Bush's)reflexes were excellent. I probably wouldn't have ducked quickly enough.

The Logisitician said...

Douglas, I had to laugh out loud when I say the intro to the effect that you do not discuss politics on your blog. I had noticed that, in a general sense, but only appreciated it when you brought it to my attention, because you have a very good command of the issues, as reflected in your comments on our blog.

Something about evil. Implicit in "good" is civility, and the conditions that contribute to civility. Also implicit in "good" is the availability of options which fall outside of the realm of animal type survival options.

Earlier this year, I saw a documentary on PBS about the manner in which the Japanese treated Allied prisoners of war in the South Pacific, which were in violation of the Geneva Convention principles. On the other hand, it also showed what the American forces did to the Japanese when they knew that the Allies were about to be victorious. An American reporter caught it on tape, and there was much controversy surrounding his effort to disclose American atrocities also, since there is a perception that we fight fair.

I have always argued that the best way to avoid evil is to avoid the conditions that drive people to behave like animals trying to survive.

Douglas said...

Log - If you have time, and are interested, I recommend reading "The Fly Boys" by James Bradley. The more I read, and learn, about WW-II, the more amazed I become.

HektikLyfe said...

My wife and I were both surprised that the guy got off the second shoe. He went down and picked up a second. What the hell? Nice secret service. I think they are trying to "protect" the president like they "protected" Kennedy.

Sounds like they were hoping the next one would be a grenade. See them come out from behind the breakroom door in the back. Secret service should be IN the freakin' crowd.

Did the shoe salesman have ANYTHING to say? Why can't we know?