You know the story. An Iraqi journalist hurled his brogans at Pres. Bush a few days ago.
I've seen all the late night jokes. Some of 'em even made me laugh.
But even though I haven't been a fan of the outgoing president's work, this whole incident bugged me.
I mean no disrespect to the office of the presidency, when I make this analogy: But I view elected officials like my siblings in the sense that I can snap at my sibling and say things and do things to get under my sibling's skin that you can't do. And if you tried to do or say those things to my sibling, I'd strongly rebuke you. May even knock you the hell out, and my displeasure with you wouldn't necessarily be about the reasons you were angry with my sibling. We may agree on the reasons. But my sibling. Leave the scolding to me.
When I lived in Sicily as a kid, just outside Palermo, young Sicilians with whom I became friends, would make anti-American jokes. They'd poke fun of the sailors and airmen stationed on nearby U.S. Naval and Air Force bases. They'd dog the servicemen's uniforms and pick on their funny haircuts. The thing is I'd poked fun at the servicemen too. I'd made cracks about the haircuts, and so on. But my young Sicilian friends? They were knocking these guys and making more generalized anti-American jokes even as they bragged about the summer homes their parents were able to buy in Taormina, thanks to lucrative contracts they'd signed for work on those military bases.
My own sister and I did it. She's five years older than me. And when I was a kid and she was a slightly older kid she and my older cousin who lived with us at the time would torture me mercilessly. You think of the cruel nickname; they used it on me. I don't think it's a stretch to say that my sister and cousin bullied me. They won't mind me saying so. It's true. But it probably helped toughen me up.
But I digress. My point is when some other kid, some kid who wasn't family, tried to jump in the fray and bully me, my sister and cousin would put that kid in check and tell him things to the effect of "We know James is a snot nose and has cooties, but he's not your brother. We'll deal with him."
Goofy? Yes. But I'm sure you get my point. If that journalist dude wanted to yell at President Bush or stage a protest outside the hall where the president spoke, fine. But even if we weren't all informed that in Arab cultures tossing shoes is a put-down, I'd still have seen that journalist's shoe-toss as out of line.
Unpopular or not, I give Pres. Bush a few points on this one. I think I might've tried to force that guy to eat those shoes.