- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

Nobles: Three Ethiopian lions, who rescued a 12-year-old girl from her captors.

Aside from the occasional flattering portrayal in movies and children’s stories, real lions aren’t known for their love of mankind. Perhaps because they’d just as soon eat us, humans tend to prefer their lions in cages. And, despite the following heartwarming story, it should probably stay that way.

Nevertheless, in a remote corner of Ethiopia, three lions not only rescued a kidnapped girl, but proceeded to protect her until the Ethiopian authorities arrived. There’s an unfortunate Ethiopian tradition where suitable brides are kidnapped and forced into marriage. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are done this way, according to the Associated Press.

The girl’s kidnappers also apparently were beating her throughout her seven-day captivity. A wildlife expert told the AP that this could explain the lions’ behavior: “A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub,” he said. Or maybe the lions just wanted to restore their good name L. Frank Baum stole from them when he created the Cowardly Lion. Whatever the reason, the lions drove off the captors and miraculously didn’t eat her. In fact, they guarded her for several hours and kindly left when the girl’s family arrived with the police.

For actions worthy of the kings of the jungle, the Courageous Lions are the Nobles of the week.

Knaves: The Berkeley Unified School District, for its offensive sensitivity.

Coming out of Berkeley, Calif., this story from the New York Sun probably shouldn’t surprise. Still, this kind of inanity can’t be called out often enough.

The Sun reports that parents, teachers and students wish to change the name of Jefferson Elementary School because the Founding Father owned slaves. No need to get into it here, but if Berkeley’s school children were actually learning about Thomas Jefferson they would know that he was a little more than a slave owner.

In any event, these things happen in Berkeley. The city has changed the name of no less than three schools in the last few decades. Not even Lincoln Elementary, named after the Great Emancipator himself, has survived. That school is now named after Malcolm X.

So, the city decided to change Jefferson Elementary to Sequoia Elementary — that is, until it was discovered that Chief Sequoia was a member of the Cherokee nation, which had owned more than 1,500 slaves. This created something of a crisis at the headquarters of the Left Coast. Only when school administrators assured the culturally sensitive that the name wouldn’t refer to the good chief, but to the sequoia tree, was the crisis narrowly averted.

The Sun identifies an ironic twist in all this: Berkeley is named after George Berkeley, who back in the 1720s also owned slaves. But at least he didn’t do anything as awful as write the Declaration of Independence.

For replacing Mr. Jefferson with a tree, the Berkeley school district is the Knave of the week.

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