Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Iraqi Shoe-Thrower's Sentence Reduced To One Year.

The Iraqi man and journalist who threw a shoe at George W. Bush and rightly cursed his name has had his sentence reduced from three years to one year by the Iraq highest court. This is good news in an otherwise bleak world. Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the shoe-thrower, will be released from prison by December of 2009.

If you remember, George W. Bush decided to make one last stop-over in Iraq before being thrown out of office in disgrace, to summon the local press to appear to bow down to him and call him "Leader," or "Savior," but instead, a local journalist took off his shoes and threw them at Bush, cursing him. He was immediately seized by Maliki's goon squads, taken to prison, reportedly beaten, run through a kangaroo court and sentenced to 3 years as if he had done something bad.

The world thought he'd done something good, and there were mass demonstrations in many countries, as well as organized letters, calls, e-mails, send-a-shoe-campaigns, all demanding this man be freed, all cheering him for what he had done.

The mainstream media and most world politicians were clueless as to why the public would care about somebody throwing a shoe. You could tell by their "quips," (only people who went to private boys schools think quips are clever -- everyone else thinks they're annoying). They would use demeaning little sayings and headlines, like Barefoot Hero, and Shoe Toss Fans. To trivialize what he had done. Or maybe because they just don't get it.

But to the rest of the world, the man was a hero because he stood up and did what many of us wanted to do: throw a shoe at George W. Bush. Tell him that we are onto his lies, that he is a murderer and a criminal, and we all know the truth.

I'm beginning to think the legal system in Iraq, the lawyers, the judges, must have some integrity. If this man was in the U.S., our Supreme Court is so packed with right-wing ideologues, Federalist Society groupies, that they would have been more likely to increase his sentence. That's why it really does matter who ends up being the judges.

The "Iraq" section of my newspaper is carrying this story front and center, surrounded by the "other" stories of people being blown up, car bombs, death, mahem, endless war.

How does Prime Minister al-Maliki work this out in his head, focusing his wrath and scorn on a man who threw a shoe (and didn't hit anyone) while American death squads have been allowed to freely roam his country, with his consent, murdering at random, and American contractors are in the process of looting Iraq's oil, the only real asset the country has?

What about the police, responsible for massive waves of ethnic cleansing, slaughtering their neighbors? Nothing much to say about them.

But Oh My Goodness, al-Maliki really was annoyed at the man who threw his shoe away.

The prosecution said his action constituted an assault on a foreign leader. The shoe-thrower's attorneys said that what he did was an expression of freedom. Yes indeed, it certainly was, and it caught the attention of the entire world.

It's funny how one single act of principle and courage can inspire the world. Mr. al-Zeidi has 22,000 fans on Facebook. Let's all act with principle and courage and publicly demand that these wars be ended.

Now we need a parole and a world-wide speaking tour and a visa. This man should be congratulated for standing up to the lies, not shut away in prison.

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