Muntadar al-Zaidi my hero

If only that shoe had hit Bush. It wouldn’t have compensated for the hundreds of thousands of people

I am in love with the guy who threw his shoes at George W Bush.

He is my hero. I love you Muntadar al-Zaidi and I hope that you are not punished for your brave and wonderful shoe based act. This is a protest. Shooting someone or blowing someone up is not way to go about making a point. By killing someone you only prove yourself as bad as them. But to fling a clog….

It’s funny, it’s insulting and it makes the recipient of the flying espadrille look like a cock.
I think it’s even better than passive resistance. Sitting around and letting soldiers hit you in the face with a rifle butt is a pretty good way of showing you’re in the right. But if, after that, you chuck a sandal at their head…. Well it’s the cherry on the cake!

What I love about the Bush clip, aside from the fact that there is a shoe being thrown at his smug oleaginous face, is the fact that Muntandar gets time to throw a second shoe at the President of the United States.

He clearly hasn’t prepared himself to do that, or he’d have both shoes in his hand. But after Bush dodges the bullet, al-Zaidi actually leans down, takes off his other shoe and throws that too. What are the secret service up to? They all must have vowed to take a shoe for the President and the minute the first one left the journalist’s hand they should have been leaping in front of him in slow motion shouting “Noooooo!” and buffeting the trainer away with their chest. But they don’t do that. Not even for the second one.

Watch the clip again and look out for the guys at the back dashing into the room comically much too late to do anything about anything. They were probably sitting out the back having a sandwich and a fag and then hear a kerfuffle and by the time they’ve stubbed out their cigarettes and wiped the cake crumbs off their faces the whole incident is pretty much over. But they run in anyway, looking like they’re trying to do their job, but knowing that if anyone has used a gun or a knife that Bush is already dead. Let’s face it a man had time to take off both his shoes and bung them at the President before they were even in the room.

As it turned out Bush didn’t need anyone else. He’s pretty wily for an old fella and he gets right out of the way of the first shot and unfortunately shot two is slightly rushed and goes a bit too high. If only its sole had slapped him on his nose. It would only have stung him. Maybe caused a bit of blood to come out. It wouldn’t have compensated for the hundreds of thousands of people who have died in Iraq, but it would have been a good start. Leaving a man bewildered and stunned and with a stinging nose is much better than hurting him. That is satire.

And wouldn’t it be great if the rest of the world registered its disapproval in the same way? If everywhere he went for the rest of his life, Bush had to deal with a constant shower of shoes, coming at him from all directions. Just to let him know that what he’s done in the last eight years has made the world a worse place. His goons can’t ensure that everyone is bare foot, unless only Sandie Shaw and Zola Budd are allowed in the vicinity.

Shoes raining down on him for every minute of the day, banging against his windows when he was trying to sleep, smacking against his windscreen as he drove into town. Then maybe he’d get the message.

Make shoes, not war.

Then throw the shoes at the people who make war.

Happy Christmas.

Richard Herring began writing and performing comedy when he was 14. His career since Oxford has included a successful partnership with Stewart Lee and his hit one-man show Talking Cock
Getty
Show Hide image

Irish preparations for border checks bring home the reality of Brexit

The news that the Irish government has begun preparing for customs checks has caused alarm.

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, the re-introduction of some form of border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic is, perhaps, inevitable.

In particular, after Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the UK will be leaving the single market, few can be surprised to hear that the Irish Revenue Commissioners have begun identifying possible locations for customs checkpoints.

Internal government documents, whose contents were reported in yesterday's Irish Examiner, are said to examine possible sites in Louth, Monoghan, Cavan, Leitrim, and Donegal.

Yet if the news is not surprising, the prospect of a reinstated border still has the potential to alarm – another reminder of the unavoidable impact of Brexit on these isles.

According to the Donegal Daily, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has called the proposals “deeply worrying”.

“This is a major cause for concern for the island of Ireland as a whole, but particularly for counties along the border where communities there have such close social and economic links.

“The re-introduction of full customs checkpoints would cause considerable economic upheaval, and poses a very real threat to our economy and to employment on this island – both north and south.

Concerns have already been raised about services which may be threatened by Brexit. Cross-border health schemes that currently give Irish patients NHS access, for instance, may be at risk, according to UK government documents leaked to the Times.

For those in the border counties, however, the concerns are not only practical.

Although systematic customs checks were abolished in 1993, with the creation of the single market, it was not until the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement were implemented that British military checkpoints were removed from the Irish border. The last major structures were removed in 2007.

Nowadays, road travellers from the North may not even notice they have crossed into the Republic until the first bilingual road signs appear.

Yet the border still looms large in the local imagination. Darran Anderson, the author of Imaginary Cities, is from Derry-Londonderry, and grew up with a military checkpoint at the end of his street.

“The psychological dimension, and the political reverberations from that, shouldn't be overlooked," he tells me.

“The free movement of people across the border has encouraged plural senses of identity and belonging. It was never quite the European cosmopolitanism that some claimed but it was much looser than the traditional 'us and them'. With a reinstated border, we face a situation where the young in particular are expected to return to old identities and allegiances to which they've never really subscribed. Other borders, beyond the physical, risk being reinstated.

Although politicians would no doubt point out that there is a big difference between watchtowers and a routine customs stop, for some, even these proposals represent a worrying step backwards.

“Even if it does occur with minimal disruption, how long will it stay that way?” Anderson asks. “The head of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland has expressed concerns that border posts would be 'propaganda gifts' and 'sitting ducks' for rogue Republican groups, adding that attacks are ‘highly likely.’

"Should those occur, and security be stepped up as a result, it is very easy to see the border becoming re-militarised and the reassurances going the way of the Leave campaign's NHS funding pledge.”

Brexit secretary David Davis has promised that there will be no return to a “hard” border.

Last week, the House of Commons voted down a proposed amendment by the Social Democratic and Labour Party which would have guaranteed that the terms of the Good Friday Agreement be considered during negotiations to leave the European Union.

Speaking after the vote, Ulster Unionist Party MP Tom Elliot re-iterated comments made by the Irish ambassador, Daniel Mulhall, stating that the Irish government has “absolute determination” that the 1998 agreement will not be impacted by Brexit.

But the work on the Irish border suggests the practical side of Brexit may overrule the political principle. 

The Irish Revenue Commission have been approached for comment.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland