“This is the farewell kiss”

I would never advocate the use of violent protest, but could there have been a more appropriate punctuation mark on the Bush presidency?

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46 responses to this post.

  1. You just did. I don’t see how you can call this appropriate on any level.

    Reply

    • Matt,
      If Bush would simply admit his mistake and seek reparations with the Iraqi people, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He would then only be one of the worst presidents in US history. But his failure to admit error — and his propensity to cover all of it up — makes him not only the “worst ever,” but too dense to realize it.

      That’s why shoes were flung.

      Reply

  2. Posted by miller on December 15, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    what would you suggest?

    Reply

  3. Posted by miller on December 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    cause i’m thinking something is in order for sure, i’m just not sure what… i can certainly understand how the man felt prompted to let him have it.

    i must say it was a fairly good job of ducking! he must feel a little on edge while in Baghdad…

    =)

    Reply

  4. Appropriate?! Appropriate?!

    If, after waging a needless war out of vengeance — and conducting as sloppily as a commander-in-chief could — all Bush gets is a couple of shoes thrown at him, then so be it.

    44,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.
    7,000 Iraqi security force deaths.
    4,000 US military deaths.

    No end in sight.

    Reply

  5. Actually, this wasn’t violence, per se, it was rather a grave insult. If he’d wanted to harm the guy, he would have blown himself up, or used a gun. The intent here was insult, not harm.

    And I can’t wait for the t-shirts to start appearing! Bush ducking, with the words “Liberation FAIL” in bold font!

    Reply

  6. Then add Katrina, ecomony, Alberto Gonzales, Rove, Cheney, torture, illegal wire taps, “Mission Accomplished”… should have been size 14 shoes aimed just a little lower!

    Reply

  7. For those of you who have never made a mistake please be the first to remove your shoes and throw them at the rest of us who aren’t perfect.

    Reply

  8. Posted by miller on December 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    matt,

    44,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.
    7,000 Iraqi security force deaths.
    4,000 US military deaths.

    i’ve never made this kind of mistake.

    i wonder how you’d feel if you lived in baghdad…

    it’s easy to call it all a “mistake” from where you sit huh?

    Reply

  9. [not that it matters whether it was 1 or 1 million deaths, but I double-checked my figures from above, and the number of Iraqi civilians killed is 90,000 on the very low end and as many as hundreds of thousands]

    That is not a small mistake, Matt. I’d say it took great restraint on the journalist’s part to limit his tossing to shoes.

    Reply

  10. A “mistake?” Matt, is that what you call Bush’s tragic tenure? Was Sadaam Hussein’s regime a “mistake?” Was Hitler’s attempt at world domination a “mistake?” Grevious errors, misjudgements, vendetta, stupitidy, downright evil, maybe, but certainly more than simple “mistakes.” And when any person (me included) commits such atrocities, we should be called to account. In all honesty, I wish the reporter had not thrown his shoes at the president of this country. It was unbefitting the office as well as an assualt to human integrity and value. But it happened; the president was not hurt and even made light of it. But how do we adaquetly draw attention to the tremendous damage Bush and his accomplices have done in their eight years? And what will it take for the proper authorities to be pursuaded to call them all to account for their evils? Such evils must never happen again in this country or any other, for that matter. We can’t do much about other sovereign nations, but we can begin to right the many wrongs done in the name of freedom and justice by this nation. Bush will trot back to Texas to live in his new Dallas mansion while spending weekends at his ranch–a retirement funded by we citizens and iced by the ungodly favors the administration lavished on corporations and other special interests. Just doesn’t seem right…

    Reply

  11. Talk about Bush all day if you like. I am not talking about Bush. I am talking you and you and you and you…the words and presumably attitudes coming from people on this board. I don’t claim to be perfect, I just prefer to take a good look at my own failures before I start throwing shoes. I am far from perfect and so is Bush and so are all the rest of you.

    Reply

  12. And one other thing…I wonder if Jesus threw a sandal at Pilate? For those of us who are Christians, we shouldn’t hope people get their due from a worldly even if it is something as menial as getting shoes tossed at them. Trust me, this is a hard thing for me to say because I am often one of those who wants to play into these things, especially when driving! So I am teaching myself a lesson in posting this moreso than trying to show someone up, etc. God bless

    Reply

  13. To be honest, Matt, I can’t remember the last time I’ve participated in “Bush-bashing.” It’s so cliché! When I saw the incident yesterday, though, I knew it was a good time to mention it and, in a rather subversive way, offer a bit of commentary. It was just packed with so much symbolism and meaning, and, frankly, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened more around the world.

    I get it that Bush and you and me and everyone here is far from perfect, but at what point is it necessary for people to stand up and shout, “THIS IS NOT RIGHT! JUST STOP!”? The Iraqi journalist would have done just that, but the Iraqis are never given such a platform to offer feedback and frustration. The shoe will forever represent the collective groan from an entire people group. It was meant to shame, to express disappointment, to say, “good riddance.”

    I echo their groan, and I cannot easily dismiss the journalist’s actions. I must take seriously his pain. So must Bush. (but it’s too late now)

    Reply

  14. We do have one example of Jesus becoming so overcome with holy rage at the injustices being performed in the Temple that he fashioned a whip and overturned the tables of the moneychangers.

    But the truth is, Matt, we don’t know what Jesus would do in this situation. Reading the scenario through a hermeneutic of love, is it more loving to sit quietly by while your friends and family are slaughtered, or to actually lash out in holy rage?

    I’m not sure any of us is in a position to make that assessment, because we cannot imagine living in a place where American bullets whiz by our heads and where every abandoned car could be wired with explosives.

    It really comes down to two questions:
    1) How much can the Iraqi people take?
    2) How much can we take?

    Reply

  15. I’m not going to engage the issue of WWJD in this situation. More on that later. I will, however, echo Matt’s initial comment — the first thing I thought when I read the sentiments just below the video were, “THAT’S a contradiction!” FYI, this is a comment that’s coming from someone who voted for the President-Elect & is disgusted with the out-going regime.

    I’m struck with how many Democratic-leaning people don’t take this incident with the President personally. It’s as if we don’t see our Presidents nationalistically anymore — only with partisan eyes. Make no mistake — that was an insult to all Americans, not only our President.

    I have a deep, deep skepticism of anyone who would place their identity & loyalty to party over country. I’m amazed at how often ideologues are able to contort their faith system to fit their polarized ideology. With certain ones of you here, it’s to a point where it is comical. I wish you could take a step back to see how transparent & foolish you look.

    Reply

    • Thanks for the comment, Phillip. I don’t see much of anything “nationalistically” anymore. (I’ve blogged quite a bit about the topic of faith and politics this year, and to get a run-down of my views on the issue, search “politics” in the search bar) In fact, it was a day-of decision to even go to the polls in November (and one for which I took some heat on this blog…), simply because I couldn’t bear to see a continuation of the same, unjust, bullying foreign and domestic policy we’ve had the last 8 years. My loyalty is to King Jesus, and him alone. The powers and principalities of this world seek power and riches for their own glory, not God’s, and I cannot serve that.

      What I can do, however, is view my world through the eyes of a Jesus who came and embodied a way of nonviolence, of sacrifice, and of humility. You are right that the shoe was a slap in the face to America as a whole, but that’s fine by me, because I don’t love America … I love Jesus. On matters where the heart of Jesus is vehemently opposed, I will always stand with the marginalized and brokenhearted — in this case, an Iraqi journalist — over the President of the United States.

      Reply

  16. I think that’s an interesting perspective, Steve. I have other thoughtful friends who have talked a lot about their Kingdom loyalty trumping all others in this election season. I have one friend at Harding Grad — with lots of Obama-hating southern family members — who angered several friends & family members when he decided not to vote because of that loyalty.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, myself. And I consider myself a citizen of the U.S. as much as I do a citizen of the Kingdom. One of those citizenships certainly takes precedence. But I do not ignore the deferent citizenship. There is a lot of good in my life that I enjoy because of advances in the world that were made in the name of America. I can’t ignore that. I sense a deep loyalty to that. There is also that of evil in the world that is done in the name of America. I certainly believe that my higher citizenship has a lot to say in terms of standing in judgment of those misdeeds.

    In standing with the marginalized & broken-hearted shoe-thrower, I hope you recognize who else you’re standing with. I just heard it mentioned on Chris Matthews’ show that this journalist has already received a medal from Momar Gaddafi’s daughter. Numerous terrorist organizations have risen to praise this guy’s effort. How many individuals have those folks marginalized? Or how many hearts have they broken?

    Glad to have found you on the blogosphere, Steve. I just clicked over here randomly this afternoon from Mark Love’s blog. I look forward to reading more in the near future.

    Reply

  17. Thanks Philip…I am with you 100% on this.

    Reply

  18. Posted by miller on December 16, 2008 at 1:56 am

    matt,

    i’m just wondering why it’s bush who gets the grace from you and not the dude throwing the shoe?

    i wonder who has the greatest grievance?

    Reply

  19. Since this has turned into a forum of sorts, I thought I’d share a perspective I read from a buddy of mine named Dan:

    “How ironic is it that this reporter threw his shoes at the very man who created conditions for a demonstration like this to take place at all? … I’m sure the reporter will suffer some sort of punishment, but I wonder what would have happened had he tried to treat Saddam Hussein to the same treatment?”

    Warning: he’s a righty & not ashamed of it 🙂

    http://djphillips.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/its-a-bird-its-a-plane-no-its-a-size-10/

    Reply

  20. Miller,

    I wonder how each of us would have done given the same level of responsibility…running the U.S.A. over the last 8 years, through 9/11 and all of the decisions that have had to be made. I doubt any of us would have been faultless had we be given such a task. If you knew me, which you don’t, you would know that I have some hard feelings toward Bush. I am not some blind lemming just jumping on the non-existent Bush bandwagon. I just ask for people to treat him with the same respect and dignity that they wish to be treated with…I believe Jesus DID say something about that. Right? I am just trying to bring some balance and perspective into this discussion. It is sad to me that some people are too blind to hear the hypocrisy in their own words. I am only pointing out what I am seeing here. Just some observations. I have been on both sides of the aisle when it comes to these sorts of things. Often times I am the one who has it wrong. Because of that I find is pretty easy to offer people grace even if I don’t agree with them. God bless,

    Matt

    Reply

  21. Posted by miller on December 16, 2008 at 4:59 am

    matt,

    my question remains unanswered…

    why are you unable to offer this grace you speak of to the guy throwing the shoe?

    you said “some people are too blind to hear the hypocrisy in their own words.

    this is true…

    for somebody so ready to avoid judging… you seem to have done a lot of it in just a very few sentances…

    Reply

  22. Miller,

    Tell me when I judged the guy throwing the shoe? I am talking to the people who are shouting his praises in this thread. I am not sure why that is so hard to figure out. I don’t understand why anti-violence people who bemoan the war can make this guy out to be a hero. Shouldn’t he abide by the same rules of decency and propriety we claim Bush has violated in his use of violence? Please answer that for me. Please.

    As far as my judgment of anybody on this board…that is seriously not what I am trying to do. I actually tried to judge myself as much as anybody by my own comments and I hope that was very clear in what I wrote. I am trying to get people, myself included, to question our own motives in who we cheer and who we boo and what thinks we promote and justify and the inconsistencies that can easily creep in if we aren’t careful. That is all I am trying to do here. So call me a hypocrite if you want because you know what. I am.

    Reply

  23. And one last thing – in no place in any of my comments was I unwilling to offer grace to the guy throwing the shoe. If you see me being ungraceful toward the guy throwing the shoes please help me see it because that would be something I need to fix in my own attitude.

    Reply

  24. Posted by miller on December 16, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    matt,

    you appear to have judged the man heaving the shoe when you said, “I don’t see how you can call this appropriate on any level.

    your very first comment assumes this is inappropriate behavior. and from where you sit it might be… but, what if you’re sitting where this guy sits everyday. we don’t know who he’s lost, what he’s lost, what he’s feeling… yet you seem to assume he’s a bad guy.

    you said, “Shouldn’t he abide by the same rules of decency and propriety we claim Bush has violated in his use of violence?

    maybe he feels he is… you arent’ seriously comparing the acts of violence bush brought to his country with the “act of violence” he brought to the press conference?

    you ask for an answer. my answer is that sometimes the level of frustration we feel is so great we resort to behaviors that may not be “appropriate” but are necessary if we hope to be heard. i’m not blessing the tactics that cause death or injury

    but every now and then a thrown shoe is entirely appropriate!

    As far as my judgment of anybody on this board…that is seriously not what I am trying to do.

    so who called everyone a hypocrite?

    dude, i know Steve Holt… and he’s a guy who is seriously non-violent and he’s a man of integrity. he’s also a man who has a love for justice. like me he loves it when someone has the spine to stand up and be heard regardless of the consequences. that’s why we like this guy and what he did. he was compelled to stand up in the face of the president of the USA and let fly his shoes! and nobody but him got hurt and the risk of harm was pretty darn low.

    you betcha! i’m all for this particular act of “violent” self expression!

    and so, apparently, is steve.

    Reply

  25. Posted by Mitch on December 16, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Love Bush or hate Bush, no one can deny his quick reflexes!

    It’s almost as if he knew it was coming!! That’s the most decision-making he’s made in quite awhile!

    Reply

  26. Miller,

    There you have it. I appreciate your perspective on this and I have learned a lot from it. We both agree that the action is inappropriate and yet you condone it. Looking at Steve’s blog he seriously seems like a guy who loves peace. I don’t deny any of that. I think in this one instance you guys are missing it. Forgive me for trying to show that consistency is important. I am even going out of my way here to examine myself in this and I hope I am not the only one who has done so. I don’t often like what I find but it is necessary to look at why we believe what we believe.

    It does not make it okay to use violence against someone (Bush) just because you don’t like them and even if you think they are evil (which some of you seem to be saying). If that is true of you then yes I am calling you a hypocrite. If that is not true of you then I am not saying anything about you. Only you can determine if you are a hypocrite. Not me. So I am sorry that I said that.

    Reply

  27. Posted by thepriesthood on December 16, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    If the embarrassment of narrowly missing two shoes to the head is the worst punishment Bush receives from the Iraqi people, I’d say he got off pretty darn well…

    @Matt: If I’m reading you correctly, you seem to have quite a personal investment, not so much in defending some kind of Christ-like response, but in Bush himself… I think we should be clear about that distinction. Reading your words, it’s difficult to disentangle your love for the President (and political ideology) from your impassioned case for Christian non-violence.

    Christians who voted for Bush’s second term did far more violence than a poor middle-eastern man who missed Bush’s head with two rubber-leather projectiles.

    Also, you seem to be caught up in this talk of violence. The demonstration on the video had far more to do with shame than violence. A surface level understanding of Middle Eastern culture would have told you that much. If the guy wanted to be violent, as another suggested, he would have conducted his own shock and awe campaign right there in the press room. That wasn’t a demonstration of violence–that was a demonstration of shame.

    Reply

  28. priesthood,

    I have a good enough idea of honor and shame and the insult it is to hit someone with your shoes. I have vivid memories when Saddam was overthrown the people were beating pictures and statues of Saddam with their shoes as a sign of disdain. So I get it.

    Sorry you aren’t reading my mind like you might have hoped. If you did know me you would know I have disagreed with Bush on MANY issues. But you don’t know me or know where I stand on Bush or his politics because I have basically been silent on that topic – that wasn’t my point. My point was the need for introspection but the result has been all the fingers pointing back at me and fire away. That’s fine. I just hope someone, somewhere has taken a moment to examine their motives in why they feel like this is okay. I hope you have a wonderful week.

    Reply

  29. Posted by miller on December 16, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    matt,

    the thing that makes me want to throw a shoe at you is your habit of not reading the comments addressed to you before you respond to them.

    Reply

  30. Miller,

    I have read them all. I don’t really see this discussion going anywhere so we will just have to disagree with each other and continue in our faith and love for one another. I wish you the best.

    Reply

  31. Posted by A.F. on December 17, 2008 at 2:05 am

    This coming from a “Christian” blog? And from someone who purports to be a messenger of the faith? Shame. You don’t have to agree with the guy, but some respect.

    Reply

  32. Posted by Seeker on December 17, 2008 at 2:24 am

    I had the privilege to view Dr. Bacon’s speech at ACU graduation, which called us to remember our duty as Christians to express civility in the public square and in our dealings with others. Presumably, such a call would also include the commander in chief. It was a moving speech, but after this posting, I wondered if the message was so quickly lost.

    Many millions have died due to abortion, far more than those killed in Iraq, and will continue to die under the new presidential regime. Yet those of us who voted against the president elect must endeavor to cast our words in civility and love. I did not realize that this duty to act in respect for mankind was negated so long as Bush is the target of your ire.

    Reply

    • Wowsers! While the cat’s away, the mice play. =)

      There’s so much I could say in response, agreement, or opposition to the comments above, but there comes a time (now) to move on. This was intended to be a minor blurb (and perhaps a bunny trail) on this blog, not the most heavily commented post — like, ever. As much as possible, I try to keep my posts constructive, though from time to time, a little prophetic deconstruction is certainly called for. And as Christians, I do believe we are to read our culture just like we read God’s word … interpreting it, critiquing it, and learning from it. I happen to see the little shoe incident as parabolic in nature, but if we are too steeped in the traditions from which we come (religious, political, etc) — just like the Pharisees were when Jesus did this — we’ll miss it. I pray that nobody here misses the potential importance of that moment, partisanship aside. It was as poetic and meaningful as when Iraqis threw shoes at the fallen Saddam statue in 2003. Interesting how throwing shoes has book-ended President Bush’s involvement in the current conflict in Iraq.

      Reply

  33. Posted by Seeker on December 17, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    That’s pretty creative… I like it. Whenever I want to insult someone, I’ll call it a parable and be off the hook!

    Reply

  34. I never like to call redemptive violence poetic or parabolic. But that is just me. Here…let me smash your face with my shoe. It’s okay…it was just a parable! Or, it was art…I was doing it to be poetic. Nah.

    Reply

  35. Posted by Mitch on December 17, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Everyone needs to lighten up!!!

    Seeker, you are one of those people who tries to bring abortion into every political conversation you have, even one that has nothing to do with it, like this one.

    This entire commenting frenzy is a serious case of everyone taking themselves too seriously. The shoe thing was a funny incident (Bush was even laughing after it happened). Some see the event symbolic and parallel in nature to how the world feels about his presidency; some don’t see it that way.

    Let’s move on. Also, don’t come on this blog, read one post and automatically judge the writer. A.F., your words are very harsh and I’ve never seen you on this blog before. You’re what bloggers call a hit and run guy. You get your punch in and then leave.

    “Shame.”

    🙂

    Reply

  36. Posted by Chris on December 17, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    If you think President Bush was one of the worst presidents, just wait. Obama will lead the country to complete ruin.

    Reply

  37. Posted by Seeker on December 17, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Mitch,

    Not all of us thought the incident was funny, apparently, even though Bush did have the ability to brush it off. If a blog author wants to talk about government’s role in killing people, it is by no means a logical leap to include abortion in that realm– another method of killing people. I’m sorry if you felt that connection was too attenuated, but its rationale holds. If you want to move on, that’s fine by me, but you should be aware that calling someone a person who “drags abortion into everything” is an ad hominem argument, which neither evaluates nor discredits the merits of the underlying argument.

    Reply

  38. I never like to call redemptive violence poetic or parabolic.

    Again, people, this journalist was NOT intending to inflict violence on the President. It was an act of shaming him. This was in no way “redemptive violence.”

    As Westerners, I’m not sure we can even comprehend this action as anything more than a powerful statement of frustration at our President.

    Obama will lead the country to complete ruin.

    Chris, old friend. Up to your trolling ways again, I see … “hit and run,” as Mitch astutely said. But for such an opponent of Mr. Obama, you give him an awful lot of credit to radically change the future of our country. To “lead this country into ruin,” as you say, he would have to get lots of people — including many Republicans — to buy into whatever ruinous plans he has up his sleeve.

    But boy, does Bush have that bar set high. (or, is it low?)

    Reply

  39. Posted by thepriesthood on December 18, 2008 at 4:30 am

    I also like how my friend and emergent podcaster Nic Fiedler puts it over at his blog:

    “Let me go on the record, I don’t believe in throwing shoes at heads of countries, but wow, this is why YouTube exists. I am glad he didn’t have a gun, because I didn’t see any secret service jumping in front of the president. On the other hand, even though I don’t support shoe attacks, because that means that I will now have to take off my shoes at more airport checkpoints, I can see how throwing a shoe at a man that started a war in your country that has killed over one million of your countrymen and women could be warranted.”

    Reply

  40. My two cents……

    This story reminds me of the time Jesus caused a “ruckus” in the temple. Why would he do this? Because he was expressing his frustration in seeing those in power take advantage of others. (I know this is a gross over simplification)

    I think there is a parallel here. This journalist was expressing his frustration over the pain the war in Iraq has caused his country. Bushes war.

    I wouldn’t call the throwing of shoe an act of violence, epically compared to what the Iraqis have been through in the past few years. That would only insult the many who lost their lives because of this war. But I do think we are called to bring attention to injustice when we see them and that it may mean we do things that are not “appropriate” and cause a but of a “ruckus”

    Reply

  41. But I do think we are called to bring attention to injustice when we see them and that it may mean we do things that are not “appropriate” and cause a but (bit?) of a “ruckus”

    Does that include bombing American statues like Bill Ayers & Weather Underground engaged in? That’s exactly what how they outlined the purpose of what they did. Does that include bombing abortion clinics? How far do we apply this principle? How extreme do we allow ourselves to become? How ideologically broad do we apply this principle in determining which injustices we actually target?

    I find it comical how so many so stringently assert that this is a matter of principle for you, when clearly it is a matter of political ideology.

    Reply

  42. A point I made on my blog in the last day or so is that the whole point some of you are making – that this isn’t violence, it is just shame…is exactly why this is so wrong. I won’t repeat all of my ideas here but I will say that Christians are not to be about going around shaming everyone or hurting people. Call it what you will, this was a violent act that was highly aggressive that was aimed to give the ultimate insult to another human being. I think we get that and we don’t have to be a Muslim to understand how shaming this was.

    Philip is exactly right – where is the line drawn? Too often the line is drawn where it is convenient to draw the line – for us and not for principle’s sake. To me this is being treated like a matter of convenience. People are saying they are non-violent but hey wasn’t it great what happened to Bush! Sure glad that guy wasn’t a Christian because then it might not have been okay. Can’t you see right through your own words? Do our morals get slack when it is expedient and convenient? I hope not! Ok, now all of you pile on, shame me, and throw shoes at my head. According to Jesus’ words, those who wish to do so are just as bad as those who do…right Miller?

    Reply

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