Sock and Awe

Yes I know my enemies
They’re the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American dreams

Know Your Enemy, Rage Against the Machine

I want to hit him and I want to hit him bad.
I want to beat him like a Good Friday bobolee for all his crimes against humanity.
I want to pelt him with shoes, with books with flowers and with my words of anguish and grief for all the murder and mayhem over which he has presided.
Not that I have violent tendencies or anything. Nor do I have a particular love of shoes or playing online games.
Truth be told I’ve always found video games far too violent for my little pacifist hippy heart.
But I spent a fair amount of time this week trying to hit a smiling image of Dubya with a pair of brown loafers.
It took a whole ten tries but when I finally made contact with his virtual head I let out a laugh of such maniacal proportions, I kind of scared myself a bit.
The simply brilliant online game, set up by a young Englisher in response to that Iraqi journalist’s act of civil disobedience is a run-away hit among web liberals and idlers intent on spending bandwith on random nonsense.
Still pelting shoes at Dubya is a better way to spend a few minutes than watching who was in which Christmas fete.
At the time of writing this, 46, 182, 018 shoes had been thrown at Dubya, with the most pelters hailing from the United States of America.
I keep going back to the site every now and then, trying to see if I can best my score of seven shoes in a row. Until I begin to wonder at my own capacity for brutality. It’s just me egging myself on to kick a man while he’s down. To pelt shoes at him, like parents who’ve had a bad day beat their children for no other reason but that they are tired and frustrated and underpaid and powerless.
And perhaps I am all of these things. Like that Iraqi journalist who has seen his country crumble around him. Who has been shocked and awed by American might, by the swiftness of the transitions from mustachioed Saddam to a red-mouthed Ronald Mc Donald.
I hear the pain in his cry as he pelts his shoes, his last chance to say to this man, to the world, this is what you have reduced us to to. A nation of people so insulted and cowed by your weapons and your torture prisons that all we can do is throw our shoes at your big pseudo-dumb head.
And I know I can’t get back at Judas for betraying Jesus in the same way that I know I know that it’s symbolic, but the immense glee and warm fuzzy feelings I get is better even than eating fair trade vegan chocolate with bits of crystallized ginger.
The truth is that shoes can’t really do that much damage. It’s not like he was giving him some of his shock and awe dehumanization.
Or raping his women and children in front of his eyes.
A pelted shoe cannot bring back the 655,000 Iraqis who have lost their lives as a result of the bombing and occupation of Iraq.
A pelted shoe can’t compensate for the climate change that he has denied even as American companies have traversed the planet bringing their smoke stacks and toxic dump sites.
Under the watchful eye of the thousands of CCTV cameras all over London, in the heightened paranoia of terrorism times, I am trodding through Babylon-don reading Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, which documents the rise of disaster capitalism, starting with September 11, and continuing in various and very alarming forms in post-Katrina New Orleans and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I am plotting ways to pelt intellectual shoes, coming up with ideas on how to bobolise those who would seek to betray my land. Like how poets and playwrights and artists and calypsonians used to be, before they traded in their wit and vision for rum and a party card.
I am looking for allies, for a million shoe pelters who would willingly look their oppressor in the eye and then willingly submit to the blows afterwards.
Because it is a far better thing to pelt your shoe and take your licks than take your licks for nothing.