Two missiles ready to launch at any time

By Sujay Kumar

You’re at a lecture called, “Protecting America: One Person at a Time.” Thinking the mystery guest speaker is a Civil Rights activist or a Holocaust survivor, you shell out the $21.75 for a ticket. But instead of an inspirational host, the speaker is Paul Blart MD, not to be confused with the mall cop. Over the next two hours, you hear about his struggle to cope with living in a society that has tarnished his name by associating it with an overweight mall security guard.

You look at your shoe. The lace is untied. It slides off your foot and into your hand. Standing up, you yell something unintelligible and launch your Air Force One at Mr. Blart’s head. The deed is done.

Now, like Austin Powers you may be thinking, “Who throws a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman!”

But as you are probably well aware, the projectile shoe has become the weapon of choice for many disillusioned shoe-wearers since the Bush debacle of Dec. 14.

On that faithful day at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at George W. Bush.

“This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,” he yelled while launching his kicks at the president. As if auditioning for a role in the upcoming G.I. Joe film, Bush dodged both size 10s while al-Zaidi was subdued.

For his shoe-down with Bush, al-Zaidi finds himself charged with aggression against a foreign head of state. His shoe, on the other hand, is a hero.

In Baghdad and some Arab countries, there were rallies celebrating the shoe attack. Baydan Shoes in Istanbul claims that al-Zaidi was armed with black Model 271, or Bush Shoes as they are known now.

And in Tikrit on Jan. 29, a bronze fiberglass sculpture of a shoe was unveiled at an orphanage. Unfortunately, that monument was removed a day later because of orders from the Salaheddin Provincial Joint Coordination Center, who thought children and politics shouldn’t mix.

But apparently, shoes and politics do mix.

On Monday, a protester threw a shoe towards Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his speech at Cambridge University. Newspapers and Web sites in China ignored the attempted shoeing in reports. The assailant was not Chinese and yelled that the university was prostituting itself with a dictator.

Another incident, another shoe, another message sent to the “man.”

According to articles on the symbolism behind throwing a shoe, in the Arab world the shoe insult ranks as one of the worst. Apparently, this is rooted in the tradition of removing shoes before entering a mosque, much like the relationship between Hindus, shoes and temples.

That’s all fine, but it doesn’t take heavy research to understand that throwing a shoe at someone isn’t friendly fire.

The shoe universally represents the common man’s fight. It’s worn on the foot, arguably the smelliest, hardest-working and ugliest body part. And the shoe is quite possibly the dirtiest thing we put on every day. Firing a shoe at someone’s head is never a nice gesture.

If we’re walking in the direction of shoe-warfare at press conferences, Rod Blagojevich would be quick to get a shoe to the face given his tendency to compare himself to honorable people. His helmet of hair wouldn’t necessarily protect him, but it would make for an giant target.

For future shoe-tossers there are many options for their arsenal. Uggs would seem like a good choice given their size, but the expensive boots would undoubtedly be cumbersome and carry a sockless foot stench that would garner unwanted attention pre-throw.

But can we live in a society where everyone’s armed with two missiles, ready to make a political statement at any moment? Before we consider the potential of $5 Starburies as FMD’s, maybe we should take a step back.

Sujay is a senior in biochemistry. He thinks that how funny The Office is and its popularity are inversely related.