American and French Heroines

It is a great irony that in the same issue (May 16) we see the truly heroic rescue of children held hostage in France, and the true heroism of the schoolteacher who stayed with the children and kept them calm and safe during the harrowing ordeal, and then the article about Waco, Tex., and U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno becoming a sort of folk hero as a result of the unprecedented fiasco. The newspapers are full of the signs of our abrupt cultural and social decline, but it is a stunning contrast, which shows our differing views of heroism.

In France the hero is a young preschool teacher who protected her young students at great personal risk, with the happy outcome that all the children were safely rescued. In America the hero is Janet Reno, who acknowledges making the decisions which resulted in the fiery deaths of scores of innocent young children whom she said she was trying to save.

I remember the day of the holocaust Janet Reno repeating the justification over and over--there was evidence that the children were being abused. I kept wondering, even if that were true (and no evidence has yet been produced to substantiate these charges) how have you helped these children? They have all been incinerated! It should not be surprising that a society which venerates such selfish incompetence is in such rapid and awesome self-destruction.

DONALD DOUGLAS

Palm Desert

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