What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: shaun wong
President Bush made a visit this past weekend to the country he invaded, subjugated, and has occupied. Little surprise, then, that his farewell address to his subjects was met with a bit of opposition, mild though it may have been. An angry journalist removed his shoes and threw them at the President, who deftly dodged each (no doubt smelly) projectile.
While Bush & Co. has played down the issue, some have expressed their outrage over the attempted assault. “How dare this man attack the President of the United States? Has he no respect?!” is a common inquiry.
While I suppose that some dignity should be afforded the duly elected leader of a nation, I wonder how any of us might act should we use the golden rule to place ourselves in a similar situation. Imagine that China has invaded our country and established a puppet government of which it approves. Imagine the seething rage festering in the souls of every American citizen, angry with the occupying force and its death machine. Then imagine China’s leader coming for a quaint visit and photo opportunity before he moves on to bigger and better things. You’re sitting in the room with a man who has ordered the imprisonment, torture, and death of your fellow countrymen. This man has brought war to your country and to your neighborhood. You weren’t able to bring a weapon of any kind, yet you want to make a scene and tell this man what you and millions of others think. You look down at your feet, and bingo! An easy way to send a message.
It’s not hard to see why the shoe-throwing journalist has quickly become a heroic legend among a downtrodden populace. In their eyes, this man’s actions were not disrespectful, but honorable and representative.
But domestic outrage is far more disingenuous, given that similar outrage is hard to be found when policies and laws are signed under the President’s pen that order death, destruction, and debt. To express dismay over a thrown shoe while looking the other way as the President further establishes an empire is the height of hypocrisy. Most people would generally agree that tyrants throughout history who were captured and punished got what was coming to them, but we fail to apply the same standard to our own countrymen and elected officials.
Further inviting future footwear attacks, President Bush has responded to accusations of his tyrannical legacy with a shrug and a “so what“? America, where is your outrage now?