Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Real Heroism

The next time you hear someone talk about celebrity or sports "heroes" tell them about Yanis Kanidis, a 74 year old phys.ed. teacher in Beslan, Russia. Here's his story:

In an act of unlimited devotion and dedication, to the bitter end, an elderly teacher insisted on remaining with his students. He protected them, bandaged their wounds, and with his death, saved their lives.

Children who escaped from the school told of how they owed their lives to elderly Yanis (Ivan) Kanidis, age 74 - a man of Greek origin who worked as a gym teacher at the school. He was among the hundreds of teachers, students and parents taken hostage last week when Chechen rebels invaded the large school.

On Thursday, in what was an unusual humanitarian move in the midst of the horror, the terrorists agreed to allow a group of women and babies to leave the building. The commander of the terrorist squad, saw Kanidis - a sickly elderly man - and offered to allow him to walk free as well.

But Kanidis refused. "I will stay with my students till the end," the teacher insisted.

"Whatever you say," said the terrorist, dismissing him with a wave of the hand.

"He was just like Janus Korzchak, who accompanied his pupils to Auschwitz," said one of the students who was saved.

Like Korzchak, Kanidis didn't just accompany his students, he guarded their lives. On Friday, when the children began to lose consciousness from the stuffy air and their thirst, Yanis went to the terrorists. "You have to give them something to drink, at least to the smallest children," he insisted angrily. One of the terrorists hit him with the butt of his rifle, but the teacher continued to yell: "How dare you!? You claim you are people of the Kafkaz region, but here in the Kafkaz even a dog wouldn't turn down the request of an old man!"

His efforts bore fruit. The terrorist allowed the teacher to wet one of the bibs of the children and pass it around to dampen the mouths of the little ones who were choking from thirst.

The hostages who escaped told how the teacher repeatedly risked his own life in order to save the children. He moved explosive devices that the terrorists had placed near the young students, and tried to prevent them from detonating others. When the first bomb exploded next to the windows of the school, parents and children began to run out. The terrorists, trying to prevent their escape, threw a grenade at them. The elderly teacher ran to the grenade to prevent it from exploding on the children. One of the terrorists shot at the teacher to try to stop him and Yanis was wounded in the shoulder - but didn't give up. With the last of his strength, he continued to run, jumped on the grenade, covering it with his body. The grenade exploded, and the body of the teacher absorbed the explosion, protecting the children around him from injury.

Men like Yanis Kanidis make the cultural icons of our day seem small indeed.

Down the Drain

Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online has some pithy remarks about the 60 Minutes scandal and the sudden implosion of Dan Rather's career. Here's a paragraph or so:

Dan Rather considers it outrageous and offensive that anyone would question the judgment that led to this situation. He defends what appear to be very shoddy methods (reading letters over the phone to sources, asking sources not to talk to the press, etc.), as if only a "partisan" or a fool would question them.

Well, if you agree with Rather, maybe you should give just a smidgen more slack to George W. Bush about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush's sources were more solid by several orders of magnitude than Rather's, and yet it is "obvious" to so many that Bush lied while Rather deserves the benefit of the doubt. George W. Bush had the head of the CIA, the intelligence agencies of all our allies, the Clinton administration, the United Nations, and most of the establishment media generally backing his understanding of the threat from Iraq. Dan Rather had a couple shoddy Xeroxes - not all of which were examined thoroughly or at all. He interviewed a partisan - Ben Barnes - a huge backer of Kerry whose story has changed several times. But because many who hate Bush believe he lied, they are willing to believe any lies that confirm what they already know to be true.

Good stuff. As a stunned Dan Rather gazes at his credibility and his career swirling down the drain one wonders who's next? Will we ever know who actually composed the frauds? Whoever it was could be looking at serious criminal charges, since forging military documents is a felony. No doubt there is somewhere a political hack who will be sleeping fitfully tonight. Defaming the president is not as much fun, nor as easy, as these folks apparently thought it would be.

Po-Mo Twaddle

Now that CBS's attempts to salvage its credibility seem to have arrived at an ignominious denouement the libs are going to have to try to rescue something from this burning building. Here's Viewpoint's prediction:

Slipping into post-modern jargon the liberals' talking point will be that "even though the documents themselves may not be genuine, they nevertheless reveal a deeper truth about George Bush that needs to be proclaimed. These documents, flawed as they are, testify to the deep inadequacies of the man who seeks another four years as president. This is the truth that emerges from a proper deconstruction of the text of these prescient memos. Who authored them isn't important. When they were written doesn't matter. What matters is that they speak to us in their honesty. They have purchase with those who are open and sensitive to the truth when they hear it. The integrity of their contents is manifest and all Americans should thank CBS and Dan Rather for calling them to our attention."

It won't be long until we start hearing something like this clap-trap from otherwise intelligent people. Other than blaming the whole scam on the omnipotent and diabolical Karl Rove, it's really the only tactic remaining to the left, unless it intends to leave Rather, who's been a good soldier over the years, twisting despondently in the wind.

You heard it here first.