Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi gave the world a look at the ugly side of freedom when President Bush visited the Green Zone in Baghdad this week. Freedom allows dissent and allows for protest, even loud and ugly protest. And, while there are consequences for throwing shoes at the President of the United States, freedom fosters such behavior too.
What al-Zaidi didn’t accomplish was what he set out to do, and that’s to insult President Bush. The President immediately played down the incident asking what the big deal was about some guy throwing shoes at him. While, it is a big deal when you make an aggressive act toward the President, how President Bush handled it calmed the situation and he was quick to point out that he has no problem with someone protesting against him, he’s used to it.
We’re told that al-Zaidi may have a couple broken ribs and maybe a broken arm. While unfortunate, that also falls under the category of consequences for your actions. Other journalists tackled him first and then our Secret Service agents took him away. Had he thrown the same shoes about 4 years ago at Saddam Hussein, what would have been left of him would still be hanging from the nearest fig tree. But, under this new regime that is at least based on Democracy and freedom, he will live to protest another day.
When I first saw the video from Baghdad, it seemed that the Secret Service was caught off guard and reacted very slowly. However, if you put a stop watch on them the story is different. 5.1 seconds, that’s how long it took for an agent to get between the President and the shoe thrower. Everyone in the room had been through several screenings, so security might have relaxed a bit, but there seems to have been no major failure by the Presidents security detail.
I respect the office of the President of the United States. No matter who is in the office, he’s our President, our leader. When someone threatens the President, they threaten us all. When someone throws a shoe at our President we should side with our leader and support him. Muntadar al-Zaidi will be free soon, I doubt if he’ll be charged with a serious crime. It might be nice if he showed a little appreciation to the nation who helped change the political landscape so that he can express himself openly and freely and live to tell about it.
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