Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

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.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: Carole Foryst - Dec. 02, 2018 3:58 PM ET USA

    Don’t you wonder who are on Bishop Lynch’s X-mas (yes, not Christmas) card list?

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 28, 2018 6:34 AM ET USA

    Thank you Father for your service to the truth. Telling the truth, convenient or not, is a potent remedy against clericalism.

  • Posted by: gbrisebois1656 - Nov. 27, 2018 6:55 PM ET USA

    Thanks Fr Jerry for your hard work and courage and persistence!

  • Posted by: Bobalouie - Nov. 26, 2018 5:22 PM ET USA

    Thank you for this article. Bp Lynch lives in my diocese during the summer months and my pastor has him cover the month of July while he is on vacation. I just mailed a letter to our bishop, partly to ask him to not permit Bishop Lynch from publicly saying Mass in his diocese. I am copying this and sending it along as a postscript. Lynch's own words are the best evidence of the type of person he is.