Wis. Protesters Share Iraqi Shoe-Thrower Award

by James Parks
Photo credit: Dan Wayne  

The public workers and students in Wisconsin wore out a lot of shoe leather in their months of protest against the conservatives’ attacks on working people. Now they have a bronze shoe to honor their efforts.

They won the first annual Muntadhar award sponsored by Prospero’s Books in Kansas City, Mo. The award, in the form of a bronzed shoe, is named for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who earned international recognition after throwing his shoes at former President George W. Bush during a press conference in Iraq.

 “Americans appreciate the underdog,” said Will Leathem, Prospero’s co-owner.

 American underdogs have been taking it on the chin—their jobs shipped overseas and sacrificed to partisan politics, their homes foreclosed on as big banks get tax breaks. And I think it’s high time we celebrated the unrecognized efforts of the little people who, like David, face down the Goliaths of institutional power in our culture.

Judy Ancel, director of the University of Missouri Kansas City’s Institute of Labor Studies, received the award for fighting back against conservative attacks on her personally and other academics at the school. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Ancel said:  

Being organized is how everyday people can speak with a voice loud enough to get the attention of power centers, be it governments, big money, or institutions.

Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks were also honored for risking imprisonment to make available to the public information unedited by governments, corporations and other self-serving institutions.

In a statement, Al-Zaidi thanked everyone for honoring him:

I hope the peoples of the whole world live in peace and that everyone shows the level of responsibility and does not stand silent on injustice.

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