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Bang your Shoe!
20th century saw a lot of things. Opinions may differ, but according to me
the most interesting thing it saw was cold war. There is a Chinese saying “Bùnéng zhù
zài yī shān èr hǔ” literally meaning two tigers can’t live on same mountain. The tigers of
our world also followed same path and USSR faced its downfall.
But I’m in no mood to discuss this crap. That period was not just about
conflicts between 2 superpowers it also had its share of fun and mystery. Today is 12th
of October and possibly history had reserved this date for a special moment or
supposed action. It’s the day former Nikita Khrushchev supposedly banged his shoe on
desk in plenary meeting of United Nations.
Nikita Khrushchev at UN meet on 22nd September 1960, 3 weeks before the incident.
In 1960, cold war was in its full swing. 7 years back Stalin was dethroned
and Khrushchev took over as the new Soviet leader. Korean War was over resulting into
division of Korea. USSR was not only progressing in the battlefield but also in
technology ground as they had taken lead by sending Yuri Gagarin in space, before
Americans. USA was having its own share of success and soon it was going to be the
leading country in Information technology of the time. While USA was struggling on
democratic front with Martin Luther King Jr. fighting hard for civil rights; USSR was
riding on its old ways taught by Lenin. Shut every mouth which speaks against you.
It was 12th October, 1960. New York was hosting 902nd plenary meet of
United Nations. Lorenzo Sumulong, a Filipino delegate was delivering his speech in
which he accused Soviet Union of having swallowed up Eastern Europe and depriving
the population of ‘free exercise of their social and political rights’.
What happened next is never made clear but everyone agrees that the Soviet
leader got enraged and quickly came forward. Then he brushed aside Sumulong in a
theatrical manner without physically touching him. He called the delegate ‘ a jerk, stooge
and today of American Imperialism’. Though Sumulong was cautioned he was also
permitted to continue. After that to express his protest Khrushchev first bangs his fists
and then picks up his shoe and bangs it loudly on the desk. A photographic adaptation :
No one gives a clear account of what exactly happened but this is the most
famous and accepted theory. Khrushchev’s long-time interpreter Victor Sukhodrev has
reported that his boss pounded so hard that his watch stopped which made him even
angrier and thus switching to shoe. His granddaughter has also given a similar account in
So what’s moral of the
story? Well first of all it’s not an
Aesopian so that you should learn
something. It’s up to you to decide
who your protagonist is and who your
antagonist is. For me this is a classic
example of 2 things – 1. Whenever
someone expresses a difference of
opinion a true human being will never
behave in a matured manner. 2. Don’t
ever behave in a childish way if you are
on such a high post. Khrushchev was
overtaken by Brezhnev in a few years.
The debate over this is endless as we may never know what exactly
happened but personally speaking one communist had lots of guts that day.