A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

So, some Iraqi journalist took off his shoes today and threw them at President Bush. According to a witty Bush (ha, ha) they were "a size 10." Awesome. That doesn't even come close to the hilarity that was watching the supposed leader of the free world ducking for dear life from a shoe onslaught. It was horrific and hilarious at the same time...does that make me a horrible person?

That prompted me to wonder--how far have we come since the days of the woman who lived in a shoe with too many children (or however the fairy tale goes); or Wynken, Blinken, and Nod who mysteriously sailed off in a wooden shoe; or since Cinderella's glass slipper (speaking of which, how the hell do you walk in shoes made of glass? Ouch?)? The following is a brief chronological tale of the role of shoes in political or social defiance.

Apparently, it all started in 1910 during a railroad strke in France. Workers would destroy the wooden shoes--called "sabots"--that held the train rails in place, thus making it difficult or impossible for trains to get by and pissing everybody off on their way to work. Hence, the term "sabotage" (ah, Star Trek VI, I can't find the scene in the movie that describes it but here's the trailer).

Nikita Krushchev was perhaps the best shoe referencer in the world. Of course, everyone knows of his 1961 speech to the UN, where he took off his shoe and started banging it on table as the Philippine delegation was speaking. Classy.

What you might not know is that in 1956 Mao and Nikita were both a little ticked at each other. Never one to pass up a good insult, Stalin called Mao "the old galosh" which translated as "the old boot." In Mandarin, "boot" translates as "prostitute." So, one of two things: either (a) Krushchev and Mao had a much more intimate relationship than was previously known, or (b) Krushchev was a big a**hole.

After that, shoes were silent for a while. That is, until Richard Reid tried to destroy a commercial airline with explosives hidden in his shoe (and in a frenzy of unparalleled creativity, the media dubbed him "the Shoe Bomber"). Thanks to his actions, I now have to smell the feet of thousands of Americans every year in airports across the country. Thanks, pal.

I'm betting we won't have to wait another 7 years for some poor unfortunate soul to find something crazy to do with his or her footwear. They're just too damn symbolic.

So here's to you, Shoe--May you forever be the "great equalizer."

(I hope you enjoyed this brief history. Would you say it was about a Size 10, as well?)

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Tags: farewell, George Bush, history, Iraq, shoes, shoes as symbol (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Instead of tips, I'll be taking shoestrings. Thank you much.

For Which It Stands

by publius americana 2008-12-14 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Good diary.  I saw the incident on teh teevee. Bush is still as spry as a mountain cat, I was impressed, that shoe moving with some velocity.  He seemed like he enjoyed the opportunity to dodge stuff.

by KLRinLA 2008-12-14 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Say what you will I would not have been able to dodge that first shoe... and the Bush comment about the size 10 was funny..

by obama4presidente 2008-12-14 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

he's had practice?  Wonder who else has thrown shoes at him? Wonder if they were his own shoes?  

by anna shane 2008-12-16 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Motley Moose has a version of this on their frontpage with pictures, which, in my opinion, make the whole piece 100x better. I hope you'll visit them to see it!

For Which It Stands

by publius americana 2008-12-14 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Personally, I can't wait until some European judge throws the book at Bush & Co.

by Charles Lemos 2008-12-14 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Of course, my favorite shoe related sign should be carried around wherever Gov. Crist goes:

If the shoe fits.

by AZphilosopher 2008-12-14 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

If we combined Obama with Nike, would we get "Yes we can just do it?"

It's a worthwhile question...

For Which It Stands

by publius americana 2008-12-14 07:31PM | 0 recs
I can't wait to see SNL's take on this.

It should feature Iraqis flinging everything from pies to a live camel at Bush, which he then proceeds to brush off as free expression. "'Tis but a flesh wound!"

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-14 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: I can't wait to see SNL's take on this.

it'll have out-takes?  All the rest of them chucking shoes too? Bush catching them and chucking them back?  

by anna shane 2008-12-16 02:17PM | 0 recs
Two thoughts

One, that journalist put some pepper on those shoes. Symbolic my ass, that was intended to raise a lump.

Two...Neo has nothing on George. If only his foreign policy were as nimble.

by Neef 2008-12-15 03:42AM | 0 recs
Re: A Brief History of Shoes and Defiance

Hah!  Loved it.  Thanks for the laughs!

by SuperCameron 2008-12-15 11:42AM | 0 recs
Things I learned from Star Trek

How could you not mention "Sabotage"??

Workers in early industrial Europe would throw their shoes (Sabots)into the machinery to slow things down as a form of protest action against capital.  

Hence, sabot-age...

if the story is not entirely solid, the connection between the word for shoes and work-stoppages certainly is.

by julatten 2008-12-16 11:55AM | 0 recs
lol....

Yes, it's very good, but it actually isn't true. The word exists, but "sabot" was also the "shoe" that held rails in place on the railroads...which is really where the term "sabotage" came from.

Sorry to LT what's-her-face. (she is a real cutie, though)

Please join the journeying progressive at For Which It Stands for thoughts, musings, and an insatiable quest for knowledge.

by publius americana 2008-12-16 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: lol....

there is debate about this.  that's why i put a caveat afterwards -- but either way, "sabot" means shoe.

and it was Kim Catrall as the half-Vulcan, half-Romulan...

by julatten 2008-12-17 12:08PM | 0 recs

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