- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Noble: Greg Khan and the rest of the passengers and crew who made a Flight 93-style save of Qantas flight 1737.

Fifty-three people were aboard QF 1737 this week, when it began a routine run from Melbourne to the island of Tasmania. One of them, who acted normally and fit in perfectly, planned to bring down the plane. Thankfully, there were also several heroes aboard the flight, whose courage was also concealed by their civilian cloaks.

Seated in the seventh row, David Robinson had just a few steps to the cockpit, where authorities believe he would have tried to crash the plane in an act of suicidal desperation. He might have succeeded, since he was armed with a pair of six-inch long wooden stakes and an aerosol can and a cigarette lighter probably intended for use as a flame-thrower.

Shortly after the flight took off, Robinson rose up, wielding his weapons. He flashed past the passengers, and only one person, the plane’s purser, stood in the way. His knees didn’t buckle, although his head and face were severely bloodied by Robinson’s stabbing stakes. Instead, he put his head down and pushed Robinson back — back down the aisle — back away from the cockpit — into the fists and fury of five passengers and a flight attendant. They disarmed him, forced him to the floor and stood on him until he was fully and finally subdued by plastic restraints.

The desperate melee actually lasted less than a minute. However, Mr. Khan had mere moments to decide he would fight for the flight. His fellows had mere seconds to jump in, with the knowledge that things could still go terribly amiss. Yet, like the heroes of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 and the passengers and crew of Flight 855 who subdued attempted hijacker Pablo Moreira in February of 2002, the Australians aboard Qantas Flight 1737 made an instant decision that aggressive action is a far better counter to terror than supine seating.

That shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, America’s friends down-under are also freedom’s fighters. They’ve been great supporters of the War on Terrorism — especially after so many were touched by the Bali bombings. Australian soldiers even fought alongside the Coalition forces which liberated Iraq.

Potential plane attackers should be put on notice — during an attempted hijacking, free people will no longer simply put their seats in an upright position. As Mr. Khan said, “Not since September 11. No one is going to put up with that anymore.”

Knaves: Six firefighters attempting to extinguish the chaplain corps from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

Firefighters tend to be a bit religious, and for good reason. After all, regardless of whether they are kindled by arsonists or lit by acts of God, fires are wildly dangerous places to work in. At some point, most firefighters want to find heaven-sent solace from their daily stresses or plead for the protection of a higher power — if for no other reason than to even the odds of survival a bit.

Not so the “Satanic Six” — as they sardonically esteem themselves — smoke-breathing firefighters in the California forestry department who have become terribly discomforted by the tinges of Christianity in the chaplain corps. Although the chaplains, who also serve as firefighters, operate under tight strictures and other counseling services are available, the Satanic Six fear that it will only be a short while before they are proselytized or denied promotions.

So, in contrast to the best tradition of brave firefighters faced with an alarming situation, they are suing. Specifically, they and their friends in the ACLU have filed a suit demanding, among other things, the disbanding of the chaplain corps and the gagging of explicitly religious language during public functions. Presumably, firefighters will still be allowed to use whatever religious language they like while putting out blazes — if for no other reason than there will be no ACLU lawyers to hear them.

The firefighters pushing the lawsuit should be able to see through the haze of what appear to be, at best, vague apprehensions. Instead of spouting off, they should go back to their real business of putting out fires.


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