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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?




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