Khalil Bodhi wrote:It is kind of inspiring to see that kind of sensitivity from an American president.
I doubt he would have had much choice in the matter.
Some years ago Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn of Thailand went on a state visit to Burma. Before the visit, the Thai royal protocol people had talks with their Burmese counterparts about the details of the visit. They requested that the prince be exempted from the requirement that visitors to the Shwedagon should remove their footwear, for in Thailand the custom is that this is not required of royalty when visiting temples. The Thai royal family even walk into uposatha halls and viharas with their shoes on and sometimes a sword hanging from their waists (the ordinary military can't bring weapons into temple buildings because of the Vinaya prohibition against teaching Dhamma to people with weapons).
But the Burmese weren't having any of it: if the prince wouldn't take his shoes off he'd have to stay outside. For a few days the two sides played hardball with each other, with the Thais threatening to cancel the visit and the Burmese refusing to budge. The latter also pointed out that King Bhumibol didn't have any problem removing his shoes when he visited the Shwedagon many years earlier. Anyhow, in the end the Thais backed down and the prince went barefoot.
So, if the Burmese wouldn't compromise even with head-anointed royalty, it's hardly likely they'd do so with some tuppeny ha'penny president.