Throwing shoes at the President

December 16, 2008

I watched again and again the short video capture of the pair of shoes hurled at the outgoing president of the United States.

I am not an American but that scene played over and over again through the news channels and cable news showed two critical realities:

1. The first one is not a strange idea anymore as millions chanted “Change” before November 4th. The image of US has been badly tainted – I don’t need to explain this as CNN and FOx News are better at explaining this.

2. The second reality that the shoe-throwing incident showed was not about the image of the US as seen or perceived by the world.  But the glaring lack of disrespect for the highest position in the United States.

Bear with me please.  Sure the economy is really difficult. Sure there are a lot of things that are going wrong. Sure all these bailouts are difficult. Sure the mess about the Chicago governor is but a symptom of something that has grown endemic ( corruption) esp here in the Philippines.

But what is more sad is that, the throwing of the shoes at the President has been a source of banter, funny antics, joke and even to some, the gesture was even considered heroic.

I will not focus my discussion on that specific man who threw that except that, if it weren’t for the man he threw his shoes at hatefully, he would not even be alive if it was a different Iraqi president. Had it been Saddam Hussein, the video would not be seen at all. And his death and that of his relatives would have been definite for sure.  It was the man he threw at, that fought for the freedom that he is abusing now.

I am saddened by the common reactions in the United States.  If Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (who isn’t well  liked as well in this country due to a lot of irregularities in her administration and business contracts with other countries) was thrown shoes at in one of her international travels, the whole country would be very upset.  Sure, our president is not well-liked, but we will not give other nationalities the “luxury” of insulting her and throwing shoes at her.

After all, George Bush is still the President of the United States. And while President-elect Barrack Obama is doing a lot of conferences now, there is still one president.  And while he may not be liked, there is a call for all americans to still respect the position that such person holds.

The US is growing conscious about its image to the rest of the world.  How about an image where you even “welcome” the idea of your president being “attacked” in foreign soil?  What kind of an image does it send?  How can the other countries respect the US, when it cannot respect its own?  Why should non-americans respect the US, when it cannot even respect its own?

How would the US have reacted if it were Condoleeza Rice?  Or Obama?

If the throwing of the shoes to the President of the most powerful nation on the planet can just be shrugged-off, imagine what they could do the rest of the normal Joe traveling around.  Why will they respect an average american doing their business or on tour groups, when Americans are non-chalant about the attack on their President?  How can americans feel safe everywhere when even their President, when attacked in foreign soil becomes a “laughing” matter?

I know the economy is hard. ( I am from the Philippines… and we define hardship as well over here…)

I know he is an un-popular president that allowed these things to happen during his watch.

I know other nations hate what the US represents.

But it is very, very disconcerting when we cannot give the least amount of respect to the POSITION that this man holds.

You do not need to respect the person perhaps, but we still need to respect the position of the PRESIDENT.

Anything lower than that is not acceptable,  if we want to be better off as human beings.

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