Published around 16 December 08
Not surprisingly, the Iraqi shoe thrower is being hailed as a hero by some on the left in this country. Their hatred of George Bush submerses them in ignorance to the reality of the shoe tosser’s background, prevents clarity of a bigger perspective on the subject other than their own juvenile giddiness, and blinds them to the truth.
Lost to the left and the mainstream media’s coverage of the event is the fact that we now know the shoe thrower was rabidly anti-American, very much pro-Saddam, and worked for an organization that was pro-Saddam. That puts things in perspective.
We’ve also learned from his peers and colleagues that he “detested George Bush,” but that he also “detested the U.S. soldiers” and “detested America.” There you go leftists, he also detests you, if you consider yourselves Americans. He wasn’t just throwing his shoes at a man you hate he was throwing his shoes at the leader of our country, your country, the nation he hates very much. The reality is that he hates you as much as he hates George Bush.
But because of George Bush, and in spite of you, he and other Iraqi journalists now have the freedom to publish what they will.
And that’s the bigger picture some in Iraq, the Arab world, and here in America forget: that reporter now has the right to express himself without fear of death for doing so.
Ironically, under Saddam Hussein, if this reporter, or any other Iraqi, had committed this type of offense, he would have probably spent the first 48 hours of his captivity enduring some of the most unimaginable torture (real physical torture not Guantanamo discomfort), been decapitated or slaughtered as my Iraqi friends described it, and may have had his corpse just disappear. If his family were lucky they would have found his mutilated body laying in a field or street with his head resting nicely on his torso.
I realize that’s a graphic trip down memory lane, but that’s the sad reality of life under Saddam, and sadly, that history is sometimes forgotten.
But try as they may, those who hate Bush and the Iraq war won’t make all of us forget what life was like under Saddam and what it’s like now. They aren’t Houdini and can’t make the truthful annals of history disappear. Iraq, the middle-East and the world are much better off without that demon.
Don’t forget that freedom of the press did not exist under Saddam. Only the state run and controlled media was allowed.
Lost in this story are the thousands and thousands of grateful Iraqi’s who no longer have to live in fear or oppression simply because of their ethnicity or religion.
We won’t forget Saddam’s use of chemical weapons on whole cities of Kurds which killed thousands, or the Kurds who were forced out of their homes and relocated to squalid refugee camps.
We won’t forget the Shiites who were oppressed, abused, and killed by the thousands. Four years of recovering Shiite remains from mass graves should be burned into the collective memory of the world, but sadly some have already forgotten. I won’t forget. I still have the pictures.
I won’t forget my impression of how terrible life under Saddam must have been talking to one of our interpreters. He was Shia. His punishment for being Shia and unwillingly serving in the army was having every other tooth tortuously pulled from his mouth.
I won’t forget my impression of how terrible life under Saddam must have been the first time we tried to detain someone for questioning. The women of his family screamed, wailed, pulled out their own hair, and beat themselves in the face with rocks. Their paradigm was that when someone was detained under Saddam, they were never seen or heard from again.
We won’t forget that Saddam Hussein used to jail children for years and years as the means to force their fathers into military service.
We won’t forget about all the rape rooms and torture chambers filled with electrocution beds, meat hooks, and blood covered floors and walls.
Think what you will of George Bush, but by him, Saddam’s reign of terror ended. Though it’s been a long, hard, costly fight, the Iraqi people now possess more freedom than they’ve had for a generation, and more freedom than almost all others in the middle-East. Their democracy is functioning. Throw shoes if you want, but freedom has come to Iraq because of George Bush, who also happens to be pretty good at ducking the insults.