Action Alert!

Give 'em the boot

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 16, 2008

 What is it about shoes? Is there some hidden psychological nexus between footwear and anti-American sentiment?

Nikita Khrushchev pounded the table with his shoe. Now Muntadhar al Zeidi has hurled his shoes at President Bush-- and thereby, in the words of one admirer, "expressed the feelings and ambitions of the Iraqi people toward the symbol of tyranny." 

Some people in Iraq despise Bush. I understand that. Some see him as a "symbol of tyranny." I understand that too. But why does their indignation-- righteous or not-- make them inclined to fill the air with wing-tips?

Look, I understand symbolic actions. I grew up in a city whose inhabitants famously protested tyranny by dumping tea into the ocean. The connection between tea and tyranny may seem obscure at first, but I can explain it. (The Brits had put a tax on tea. People in Massachusetts don't like taxes-- or at least didn't, back then.) I'm afraid I can't explain the connection between footwear and oppression. 

Are shoes unAmerican? Was Huck Finn right to go barefoot? Does the discomfort from a too-tight loafer stimulate the production of anti-American bile? 

The Pentagon should be studying these questions. I suspect there's already a good deal of top-secret research being done. But the government doesn't want to alarm the citizens.

Shoes are dangerous; that much is obvious. Why do you suppose you have to take them off to pass through airport security? Have you ever heard of a terrorist trying to blow up an airplane with his necktie?




Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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