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
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How Donald Trump is slouching towards the Republican nomination

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb.

In America, you can judge a crowd by its merchandise. Outside the Connecticut Convention Centre in Hartford, frail old men and brawny moms are selling “your Trump 45 football jerseys”, “your hats”, “your campaign buttons”. But the hottest item is a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Hillary sucks . . . but not like Monica!” and, on the back: “Trump that bitch!” Inside, beyond the checkpoint manned by the Transportation Security Administration and the secret service (“Good!” the man next to me says, when he sees the agents), is a family whose three kids, two of them girls, are wearing the Monica shirt.

Other people are content with the shirts they arrived in (“Waterboarding – baptising terrorists with freedom” and “If you don’t BLEED red, white and blue, take your bitch ass home!”). There are 80 chairs penned off for the elderly but everyone else is standing: guys in motorcycle and military gear, their arms folded; aspiring deal-makers, suited, on cellphones; giggling high-school fatsos, dressed fresh from the couch, grabbing M&M’s and Doritos from the movie-theatre-style concession stands. So many baseball hats; deep, bellicose chants of “Build the wall!” and “USA!”. (And, to the same rhythm, “Don-ald J!”)

A grizzled man in camouflage pants and combat boots, whose T-shirt – “Connecticut Militia III%” – confirms him as a member of the “patriot” movement, is talking to a zealous young girl in a short skirt, who came in dancing to “Uptown Girl”.

“Yeah, we were there for Operation American Spring,” he says. “Louis Farrakhan’s rally of hate . . .”

“And you’re a veteran?” she asks. “Thank you so much!”

Three hours will pass. A retired US marine will take the rostrum to growl, “God bless America – hoo-rah!”; “Uptown Girl” will play many more times (much like his speeches, Donald J’s playlist consists of a few items, repeated endlessly), before Trump finally looms in and asks the crowd: “Is this the greatest place on Earth?”

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb. Only a minority within a minority of Americans, it was assumed, could possibly be stupid enough to think a Trump presidency was a good idea. He won New Hampshire and South Carolina with over 30 per cent of the Republican vote, then took almost 46 per cent in Nevada. When he cleaned up on Super Tuesday in March, he was just shy of 50 per cent in Massachusetts; a week later, he took 47 per cent of the votes in Mississippi.

His rivals, who are useless individually, were meant to co-operate with each other and the national party to deny him the nomination. But Trump won four out of the five key states being contested on “Super-Duper Tuesday” on 15 March. Then, as talk turned to persuading and co-opting his delegates behind the scenes, Trump won New York with 60 per cent.

Now, the campaign is trying to present Trump as more “presidential”. According to his new manager, Paul Manafort, this requires him to appear in “more formal settings” – without, of course, diluting “the unique magic of Trump”. But whether or not he can resist denouncing the GOP and the “corrupt” primary system, and alluding to violence if he is baulked at at the convention, the new Trump will be much the same as the old.

Back in Hartford: “The Republicans wanna play cute with us, right? If I don’t make it, you’re gonna have millions of people that don’t vote for a Republican. They’re not gonna vote at all,” says Trump. “Hopefully that’s all, OK? Hopefully that’s all, but they’re very, very angry.”

This anger, which can supposedly be turned on anyone who gets in the way, has mainly been vented, so far, on the protesters who disrupt Trump’s rallies. “We’re not gonna be the dummies that lose all of our jobs now. We’re gonna be the smart ones. Oh, do you have one over there? There’s one of the dummies . . .”

There is a frenzied fluttering of Trump placards, off to his right. “Get ’em out! . . . Don’t hurt ’em – see how nice I am? . . . They really impede freedom of speech and it’s a disgrace. But the good news is, folks, it won’t be long. We’re just not taking it and it won’t be long.”

It is their removal by police, at Trump’s ostentatious behest, that causes the disruption, rather than the scarcely audible protesters. He seems to realise this, suddenly: “We should just let ’em . . . I’ll talk right over them, there’s no problem!” But it’s impossible to leave the protesters where they are, because it would not be safe. His crowd is too vicious.

Exit Trump, after exactly half an hour, inclusive of the many interruptions. His people seem uplifted but, out on the street, they are ambushed by a large counter-demonstration, with a booming drum and warlike banners and standards (“Black Lives Matter”; an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, holding aloft Trump’s severed head). Here is the rest of the world, the real American world: young people, beautiful people, more female than male, every shade of skin colour. “F*** Donald Trump!” they chant.

After a horrified split-second, the Trump crowd, massively more numerous, rallies with “USA!” and – perplexingly, since one of the main themes of the speech it has just heard was the lack of jobs in Connecticut – “Get a job!” The two sides then mingle, unobstructed by police. Slanging matches break out that seem in every instance to humiliate the Trump supporter. “Go to college!” one demands. “Man, I am in college, I’m doin’ lovely!”

There is no violence, only this: some black boys are dancing, with liquid moves, to the sound of the drum. Four young Trump guys counter by stripping to their waists and jouncing around madly, their skin greenish-yellow under the street lights, screaming about the building of the wall. There was no alcohol inside; they’re drunk on whatever it is – the elixir of fascism, the unique magic of Trump. It’s a hyper but not at all happy drunk.

As with every other moment of the Trump campaign so far, it would have been merely some grade of the cringeworthy – the embarrassing, the revolting, the pitiful – were Trump not slouching closer and closer, with each of these moments, to his nomination. 

This article first appeared in the 28 April 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The new fascism