Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star is the quintessential example of a self-hating European, I must say. He is a journalist that sides with those who advocate the destruction of his own culture just so he can puff himself up that he "gets it" and he does this willingly ala the useful idiots of old. In his latest pretense at journalism, Potter takes such glee indulging his Bush derangement syndrome (BDS) that he ends up accepting the terms of what "insult" means among Muslim hatemongers and terrorists and employs that as a weapon against Bush and the USA. It does not occur to this writer at all that we should scoff at what they think is an insult because he accepts their cultural concepts in place of our own.
First of all, the Toronto Star gives our Euro-weenie the exalted status of "Mitch Potter, Europe Bureau," though it would have been better grammatically -- less clumsy at least -- to say he is "Mitch Potter, European Bureau," but be that as it may. What strikes us at first glance is Potter’s penchant for the insufferable style of too many "reporters" in today's world of woefully untalented journalists. That would be the appalling practice of the one sentence "paragraph."
Evidently, the idea here is that readers are too stupid to read a paragraph more complicated than a single sentence or two. It is the idea that too many words grouped together is too taxing for the moron reader to withstand. So, these reporters give us annoying short bursts of words in clipped sentences that deter any sense that craft is something the writer is attempting to serve.
Mitch Potter writes to inform.
He uses short sentences.
He makes up for that with no depth or breadth of information.
We are duly impressed with his smarminess.
But slovenly style aside, there really is nothing to this piece. There is no deeper discussion, no grand theme. It is but an exercise in Mitch Potter's personal hatred of George W. Bush. The piece does little by way of investigating the cultural insult of shoe throwing in the Muslim world, nor does it fully explain why we in the west should accept this as some great outrage merely because it is a custom there. Potter just accepts this custom as an outrage because Muslim culture means it to be one. Potter, however, wastes not a word to explain why we should take it as an insult or even care much that it occurred. There is only a simple-minded assumption that we are wrong and the terrorists are right.
Let’s fact it, there are a lot of customs in the Muslim world. Should we accept them all at face value and incorporate them into our western culture unexamined? Would Potter wish to stop women from driving cars in Toronto because some Muslim cultures deem allowing women to drive to be an outrage? If not, why then should we so automatically accept that a thrown shoe in Iraq is an "outrage" here in the Americas and then get ourselves all ginned up accordingly?
Potter is facile as he tries to explore the Muslim custom of shoe throwing to rouse in us a feeling that we should find shame in George W. Bush. Potter tries to make the situation worse for Bush by presenting Bush's reaction to this "outrageous insult" as feckless or "oblivious," as he says.
In his cloyingly short sentences he says:
Footwear -- viewed in the Middle East as low and unclean – was hurled at his head, but a seemingly oblivious George W. Bush just ducked and shrugged.
There is one question left unanswered in the saga of the Shoes Seen Round The World: What does it take to actually offend George W. Bush?
If not the greatest insult an Arab can muster – the hurling of footwear at a man's head – then what?
No, not even those humiliations managed to penetrate the wilfully oblivious presidential bubble this week, after Bush so deftly ducked and just as quickly shrugged off the leather projectiles at a Baghdad news conference.
If you can spare him no other thought, behold Unflappable Bush, late 2008, for sheer thickness of hide. It is nearly the night before Christmas and lame-duck is giving way to lame-mouse.
Of course, the first thought that came to my mind was to laugh at Potter's claim that throwing a show is the "greatest insult an Arab can muster." I'd say cutting off someone's head is a bit more insulting than a thrown shoe. I'd think forcing someone to convert to Islam is a tad more offensive. Or, perhaps raping another's woman is just a tiny bit more insulting. In the case of those Arab insults, I'd opt for a tossed loafer, any day.
But, Potter's other line, that Bush "just ducked and shrugged," was also risible. What would Potter have had Bush do, one wonders? Throw a chair back at the man? Yell and scream? Pout? Otherwise loose his cool? Would that have been a better scene for the leader of the free world to make? Of course, one has to realize that any reaction Bush might have had would not change this Euro-weenie's feelings no matter what. Potter would have viewed ANY Bush reaction in the same manner, but he hasn't the integrity to see it. It is obvious that Potter is just reeling off his preconceived notions already composed in his head and simply used the shoe throwing incident as a platform to indulge them.
To go on, Muslims, Potter tells us, feel that a thrown shoe is the lowest of insults. It is because, we are told, that shoes are filthy and one thrown at another is as much as throwing the filth itself. On reflection, we realize that while shoes aren't considered necessarily "clean" in the western tradition, they certainly do not automatically bring to mind filthiness. In fact, shoes are sort of a status symbol here. The "right" shoe in the west denotes, wealth, expensive tastes or even power. So, "filth" is not what comes to mind when the shoe is thought of in western circles, for sure.
But let's just take a minute to examine this clashing view of footwear. Why is it that shoes mean filth in the Muslim world? It is, of course, because Muslims commonly walk in filth as a part of their daily lives. In most corners of the world where Islam holds sway, we find a third world disregard of cleanliness and hygiene. Open sewers, unpaved streets, the constant presence of livestock, and a dearth of sanitation are the hallmark of these people's lives.
On the other hand, in the west, we have long since forgotten of how germ ridden a walk out of doors can be since we have succeeded in making sanitation an important concern in our daily lives, one that is so ubiquitous that we take it for granted. We just don't have the conception that we walk in filth all day long.
So, what we see with this cultural expression of "insult" in the throwing of shoes is a reflection of the backwards lives these people lead. It is proof that they are in essence savages in a modern world and that they have been left behind by the advancement of mankind.
This being the case, WHY in God's name would I accept as an insult something from a degraded and backwards people? Should we not rather look with amusement upon their foolishness? Should we not pat them on the heads like errant children and laugh at their futile attempts at trying to "get at" us?
But, no. Not to Mitch Potter. This man doesn't care how we would or should react in our own culture. We should accept this shoe incident as the "greatest insult," apparently. Yet, the readers end with a most glaring question after finishing Potter's.
So what, Mr. Potter?
What, Mr. Potter, should we DO about this "greatest insult"? Should we get so outraged that we bomb the closest embassy of any random Muslim country? Maybe we should mount giant protests and perhaps kill a Muslim or two in Paris, or Washington DC? Should we burn Arab flags? Maybe hang an Arab in effigy? And, if not, why not? That IS the sort of reaction your wonderful Muslims would foster, isn't it Mr. Potter?
Or should we, Mr. Potter, allow members of the Taleban or al Qaieda to pick our leaders for us so that we don’t have to live with the shame of having had a show thrown at one of our leaders? Is that the solution you most desire, Potter?
In the end, Potter's puffery doesn't serve to answer any questions at all. It offers no deeper look at culture, no exposition on public or foreign policy, and no intelligent commentary on the relations of disparate cultures. This unworthy entry in western journalism serves but one purpose. It gives a Euro-weenie a chance to stick his tongue out at George W. Bush.
To emulate Potter's inimitable "style" I could rewrite his whole piece to make more judicious use of column inches, really save the reader some valuable time, and still get across the same message that Potter wanted to purvey. Try this one, Mr. Potter.
The greatest insult of all Dec 20, 2008 04:30 AM
Mitch Potter EUROPE BUREAU
A guy threw a shoe at Bush. Bush is a big poopie head.
See how much time that saved, Mr. Potter?
(Photo of Mitch Potter from www.honestreportingcanada.net)