Laura Bush Doesn't Think It's Funny; Neither Do I

I read on CNN.com today:

First Lady Laura Bush said that although she “wasn’t amused” when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at her husband, she sees the incident as a sign that “Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves... It was an assault. And that's what it is,” the first lady said in an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News. “And the president laughed it off. He wasn't hurt. He's very quick. As you know, he's a natural athlete. And that's it. But on the other hand, it is an assault, and I think it should be treated that way,” she said.

Hmmm... well, I was tracking with Ms. Bush at the beginning: I wasn't amused either. But I think it's despicable for the president or the American people to "laugh it off." However disrespectful and indignant the shoe-throwing was (and it certainly was) the humor and ambivalence communicated by Bush and the West demonstrated a profound lack of cultural understanding or sensitivity.

This man, an educated and accomplished journalist, was so desperately angry and indignant at the injustices he perceived by the United States, that he risked his own life to make a political statement. And the shoe-throwing is no small insult in the Arab world. That isn't something to be laughed at, or shrugged off. It is an obvious and direct result of suffering, whatever one's opinion or position on the matter. In essence, our laughter - however directed - resonates back at the impoverished civilians who have died or lost loved ones in the chaos of war. Even if I supported the war in Iraq (which I don't) I would vehemently disapprove of this sort of careless disrespect for the suffering "least of these."

And as for the Iraqi people feeling "freer to express themselves," the Al Jazeera international news network reported that Al-Zaidi was indeed been "tortured" and "seriously injured."

Not something I can laugh at.

15 comments:

Chris Brundage said...

I think a lot of Americans who don't like Bush found satisfaction in the shoe thrower and want to defend him. The incident confirms their feelings.

I view it differently. I thought Bush responded well by finding humor in it. Just because someone tries to insult you doesn't mean you need to feel insulted.

There are doubtless many Iraqis who hate Bush, and many who applaud him for ending the regime of Saddam Hussein. They are as ambivalent about it as we are.

Cherie Blair was on NPR today, and she defended the invasion. It was a surprise to hear her comments.

Peter said...

Chris, good point:
"Just because someone tries to insult you doesn't mean you need to feel insulted."

I agree with that. Sticks and stones... And Bush certainly isn't compelled or expected to agree with the criticism. But to merely "laugh it off" - in my view - downplays and degrades the suffering behind the insult. Don't you think, a bit callous, considering our already-precarious PR as 21st century colonialists?

Chris Brundage said...

It's been said that George Bush took over John Paul II's role as the most loved and hated man in the world... except for the love part.

When you're the most hated man in the world, when people have been hurling insults at you for years, maybe humor is your best defense. It needn't indicate callousness to human suffering.

Peace to you today.

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

The President has often acknowledged the relentless suffering by the Iraqi people. People didn't want to hear about the days he spoke of it. Their suffering was at least a part of why he made decisions.

So by simply making a cultural decision to not worry about it seems reasonable and appropriate to me. The shoe thrower doesn't speak for me or for millions of others. I don't mind that one protests, I'm good with it. But in my view he's short-sighted if he doesn't acknowledge the potential of his new situation.

We should be proud of the strength of a leader in the face of difficult decisions. We want our leader to stand behind his decisions. I think the President has stayed resolute, firm and strong, especially in the face of Americans who, despite the good the President did, would stop at nothing to hate him.

Pickypants said...

I thought it was hilarious.

Although I would have preferred someone thrown a flaming baby at him. It's hard to laugh that off.

Peter said...

Chris, well said: "When you're the most hated man in the world, when people have been hurling insults at you for years, maybe humor is your best defense. It needn't indicate callousness to human suffering." That's true.

Rick, I probably wouldn't attribute Bush's demeanor to strength of character - more likely some thick skin that develops in the face of so much public disapproval. Which I have compassion for.

On the other hand, I can't personally find anything to be proud about in Bush's resoluteness or policy.

I think much of my generation is eager for leadership that is transparent and authentic - willing to say "I was wrong" when they were wrong. And to my surprise, I think we've begun to see Bush hint at this attitude in the last few weeks. There is some contrition - but only so much is allowed...

Thanks for sharing! Pickypants... nevermind ;)

Anonymous said...

And as for the Iraqi people feeling "freer to express themselves," the Al Jazeera international news network reported that Al-Zaidi was indeed been "tortured" and "seriously injured."

Great source...Al Jazeera...I wonder what would have happened to this guy if he threw the show at Saddam?

Maybe this:

BAGHDAD — Pictures of dead Iraqis, with their necks slashed, their eyes gouged out and their genitals blackened, fill a bookshelf. Jail cells, with dried blood on the floor and rusted shackles bolted to the walls, line the corridors. And the screams of what could be imprisoned men in an underground detention center echo through air shafts and sewer pipes

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-04-13-saddam-secrets-usat_x.htm

Why didnt Al Jazeera report on this stuff?

DanWright said...

I really don't want a leader who always stands behind their decisions, (as some have commented about above)only the decisions that are correct. Of course you don't want to always be second guessing yourself, but if Bush would admit that a lot of the decisions he's made have been wrong, it would go along way with the people who dislike him. It takes a big person to admit fault, he acts like he's perfect, I think that's what really gets to people. That, and the fact he actually does make terrible decisions quite often.

Peter said...

ANONYMOUS -
Actually, Al-Jazeera is an internationally respected news source. Of course, it probably doesn't stand up to the journalistic rigors of Fox News...

But here's a link to an Al-Jazeera article on the results of Saddam Hussein's atrocities (just one of many) http://english.aljazeera.net/archive/2003/05/200849164623626613.html

But I guess having an Arabic name disqualifies them from respect or integrity.

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

The point is about being wrong is that one doesn't have to say they're wrong simply because you thought they were. He certainly doesn't have to admit he was right just because I believe he was. And how transparent can you get than someone who actually does it like he says he is, who proves faith as he said he had, and establishes authority in the way he promised he would?

Dan Wright said...

I think there's one simple reason why Bush has to say he was wrong,(on invading Iraq) because he was. I cannot think of one person I know (and I know more Republicans than Democrats) that would say Bush's decision to go to Iraq was the correct move. Maybe they thought it was it the right thing to do six years ago, before we went in, because we were lied to about the nuclear weapons they supposedly had.

Then when someone (Valerie Plame's husband) tried to tell the Bush Admin. something they didn't want to hear about the lack of nuclear weapons in Iraq during the selling of the war to the American people, they punished him for it. Bush had to have known about that, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were the pawns, I believe. And I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but I don't know how Bush couldn't of known about what has happening. It's pretty naive to believe he didn't have a clue about what was going on, especially if Rove was involved. (Rove was his long time friend and one of his senior advisors before he resigned.) They should have given Rove and Cheney and Bush lie detector tests. For the complete story go to cbsnews.com and search for Valerie Plame.

Sorry for my long digression there. Anyway, the point of that story is to show how far the Bush Admin. was willing to go, to make sure they were only given the intelligence that supported their agenda, to go to war with Iraq. They lied to us and then tried to cover it up, but got caught! And we as Americans ate up the lies that led us into Iraq. Anyone else outraged about this!

My overall point is that when almost everyone says you are wrong about something, it probably means you are.

90% of my liberal friends and all of my conservative friends thought that invading Iraq was the right move, before we went in. Now, absolutely no one I know, or even can think of, thinks it was a good idea, except Bush and maybe a few Bush lovin' Republicans, but no Republicans that I know, or have even talked to for that matter. Also, my old Army buddies think it was a mistake to ever invade Iraq, (although they do think they should stay and fix the mess we've made, and I agree with them on that.) I think that's pretty compelling evidence that Bush was wrong. He does make mistakes, he's human. I wish he would acknowledge his mistakes every once in a while. That's all.

He was right to go to Afghanistan to fight Al Queda, I think, but maybe it would have been better to do what Jesus said to do. NIV Matthew 5:38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. (or the 'axis of evil' maybe?) If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also."

So lets all try to do what Jesus said, and turn the other cheek. Love your enemies. After all, you can't win a war of hearts and minds with bullets and bombs.

Dan Wright said...

Pete, I love your comment about the journalistic rigors of the Fox News Channel. Hilarious.

"Fair and balanced"? That's right, ask any Republican and they will tell you Fox New Channel is "Fair and Balanced".

I like what one my favorite Christian authors, (Donald Miller, author of "Blue Like Jazz" and "Searching For God Knows What") said about Fox News, comparing them to the clanging cymbals in 1 Cor. 13:1

It's actually a good lesson for all the rest of us Christians(and by rest of us Christians, I mean not Fox News Channel Christians) to learn as well. It basically says talk is cheap and if you don't have the love with it, it's worth nothing and will fall on deaf ears, like clanging cymbals. So do everything out of love, with love, and don't forget to actually show the love also, that can be easy to forget sometimes, I'm especially guilty of it a lot. Love is the most excellent way. Faith, hope, and love. The greatest? Love. Peace.

expatin US said...

God bless Pres. Bush, for standing by his decisions and not withdrawing from Iraq and leaving them to your wonderful shoe-throwing mobs.
You do know that this "highly accomplished" journalist supports the Iranian regime?

Peter said...

Dan, thanks for your thoughts. One of my favorite Derek Webb songs goes:
"How can I kill -
the one's I'm supposed to love? My enemies -
are men like me."

Expatin US:
A lot of good, honest Americans supported the Bush regime. There's a lot of rhetoric to push through, and worldview is everything...

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

It would be interesting to note that Bush's "lie" actually started much earlier when intel about a very dangerous Saddam Hussein included Weapons of Mass Destruction. He certainly used them, however even though they hadn't been used in some time, it didn't stop President Clinton in 1998 from saying "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."

Interestingly enough Madeline Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others including Senator Bob Graham all agreed at that time. Not only that, Al Gore said "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

Senator Ted Kennedy said, "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

Senator Robert Byrd said "We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."

Lastly, Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Advisor said in 1998, "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."

To be against war, to dislike the President, all these are within our rights. But the reasons and information behind the decision should be sound.

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