Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi has thrust himself into history
and become an international overnight celebrity. Thousands protest
for his release. A Saudi businessman offers $10 million for one
of his shoes. Libya nominates him for a medal. Why? Because al-Zaidi
threw his shoes at President Bush, capturing a moment for which
millions have yearned.
is your farewell kiss, you dog!” Al-Zeidi shouted at Bush. “This
is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq.”
the significance of the act—considered a supreme insult in Arab
culture—was lost on Bush, who called it “amusing” and a “bizarre
moment.” For Bush, Al-Zeidi’s gesture is a very small price to
pay for waging one of the biggest blunders in American history -
the Iraq war. No one has been held accountable for the hundreds
of thousands of needless deaths, the destruction of a country and
its culture, the blood of over 4,200 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands
wounded and maimed. Meanwhile, all that Bush and his administration
can do is brag about his nimbleness in dodging the shoes, or joke
about their failure to find weapons of mass destruction. No one
to blame, no indictments, no investigation, not even a firing or
not unlike his dismissal of the shoe-throwing incident, Bush seems
to shrug his shoulders over the legacy of carnage he has left in
a confluence of historical forces, Al-Zeidi has captured the moment.
But he does not stand alone. Al-Zeidi is but the latest in a line
of people who were placed in the spotlight because of the inaction
of the powerful, because the intelligentsia and the media decided
to take a pass when injustice was present, and accept things as
Parks was thrust into the center of the civil rights struggle after
years of a nation accepting Jim Crow as an alternative to Reconstruction.
Segregation was the law of the land, wholeheartedly endorsed by
the Ivy league-educated Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson.
Despite the fact that “separate but equal” was impossible in a system
that depended on the suppression of the rights of African Americans,
the media accepted the proposition and perpetuated a lie for years.
the public outrage over the brutal beating of Rodney King came after
years of police brutality as standard practice in poor communities
and communities of color. Many had accepted police brutality as
a buffer against Negro uprising, a way to keep Black people in line
and maintain order. The mainstream media did its part by refusing
to report on incidents of police brutality, or reporting such stories
in a way which characterized Black victims as criminals and the
offending police officers as heroes. And the court system had failed
to correct these injustices due to patronage and political influence,
corruption, and the acceptance of the status quo as a means of advancing
in the system.
to the matter at hand regarding Iraq: Bush bamboozled the media
through his push for war in Iraq, his manufacturing of a reason
for war, and his constant changing of the rationale for war. One day the rationale was a link between
Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda and 9-11. Another day it was weapons of
mass destruction and the threat Saddam posed to America, and still
another day the rationale for going to war was bringing democracy
to the Mideast. Iraq has been far too chaotic to form voices in
the intelligentsia in the U.S. was mostly silent and acquiescent
during the Bush years due to their desire for personal financial
comfort. And the corporate media were too entangled with the people
in power, and in some cases too entangled financially in the machinery
of war, to serve a proper watchdog role. The war, and the massive
loss of lives it created, was valued for its television entertainment
value, and opposition to the war was regarded as unpatriotic.
Al-Zeidi, who was a victim of a kidnapping by unknown assailants
in November 2007, and was arrested twice by the U.S. military, knows
and lives the occupation. His reports on the death and destruction
of the war in Iraq— including the story of Zahra, a young Iraqi girl killed by the occupation
forces on her way to school—have earned him the respect of the people.
al-Zeidi is Rodney King, and he is Lech Walesa. And he is Rosa
Parks and the anonymous protestor who stopped the tank in Tiananmen
Square. A journalist who stands up for the widows, the orphans,
and the children of the Iraq War, this ordinary man is doing extraordinary
things that the power elite and lame stream media ignored. He sees
through the deception of the war, and the disastrous consequences
for the country he loves.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator
Angus R. Love is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania
Institutional Law Project, a
non-profit organization which seeks to deliver civil legal services
to the institutional population of Pennsylvania, and ensure equal
justice for low income residents of prisons, jails, and state hospitals
and state centers. Angus has been a longtime advocate for improved
prison conditions in the state.
Editorial Board member David
A. Love, JD is a journalist and human rights advocate based in Philadelphia.
Angus and David are not related, to their knowledge. Click here
to contact Messrs Love.