Baghdad in NPR’s parallel universe

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush has been sentenced to three years in prison. The sentence seems harsh to me (a fine might have been sufficient), but I’m the last person who would presume to judge a great Arab culture.

The sentence also seemed stiff to NPR’s Baghdad correspondent (I didn’t catch her name), who plainly regards the shoe-tossing journalist as a heroic figure. According to her report, the “Iraqi street” (probably some folks she knows in Baghdad) is nearly unanimous that the sentence is unjust and that the shoe tosser is a great patriot who was peacefully (by Baghdad standards) expressing the disgust his countrymen feel for Bush.

For a moment I thought the correspondent was projecting her view of Bush onto the Iraqi people. But then I remembered that we’re talking about NPR, so this is not possible.

NPR did report a small amount of dissent to the view that the shoe-tosser is a national hero. The dissenters thought his actions towards Bush, while certainly warranted, were inconsistent with the grand tradition of Iraqi hospitality.

It’s hard to imagine how even George W. Bush could have converted a nation full of such patriotic, freedom loving, hospitable people into a hell hole.


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