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Come Saturday Morning: Courage Is Contagious

Item: Nicholas Kristof reports the following:

Inside Tahrir Square on Thursday, I met a carpenter named Mahmood whose left arm was in a sling, whose leg was in a cast and whose head was being bandaged in a small field hospital set up by the democracy movement. This was the seventh time in 24 hours that he had needed medical treatment for injuries suffered at the hands of government-backed mobs. But as soon as Mahmood was bandaged, he tottered off once again to the front lines.

“I’ll fight as long as I can,” he told me. I was awestruck. That seemed to be an example of determination that could never be surpassed, but as I snapped Mahmood’s picture I backed into Amr’s wheelchair. It turned out that Amr had lost his legs many years ago in a train accident, but he rolled his wheelchair into Tahrir Square to show support for democracy, hurling rocks back at the mobs that President Hosni Mubarak apparently sent to besiege the square.

Amr (I’m not using some last names to reduce the risks to people I quote) was being treated for a wound from a flying rock. I asked him as politely as I could what a double-amputee in a wheelchair was doing in a pitched battle involving Molotov cocktails, clubs, machetes, bricks and straight razors.

“I still have my hands,” he said firmly. “God willing, I will keep fighting.”

…At Tahrir Square’s field hospital (a mosque in normal times), 150 doctors have volunteered their services, despite the risk to themselves. Maged, a 64-year-old doctor who relies upon a cane to walk, told me that he hadn’t been previously involved in the protests, but that when he heard about the government’s assault on peaceful pro-democracy protesters, something snapped.

So early Thursday morning, he prepared a will and then drove 125 miles to Tahrir Square to volunteer to treat the injured. “I don’t care if I don’t go back,” he told me. “I decided I had to be part of this.”

“If I die,” he added, “this is for my country.”

— Item: ABC World News (whose lead anchor, Diane Sawyer, is such a die-hard conservative Republican that she was one of the small group of Nixon White House intimates who followed him into disgrace and exile to San Clemente) publishes a list of journalists known to have been harassed in some way by the Mubarak régime while reporting on the protests. They also run a story on Omar Sulieman’s career as Mubarak’s favored torturer.

— Item: CNN, whose usual reporting is normally the bland right-leaning stuff approved by the US’ corporate hegemons and their governmental butlers, has thrown off the corporate-imposed self-censorship and is, wonder of wonders, largely reporting the story straight up, making them indispensable for Americans following this story. Just check out the Twitter accounts of Arwa Damon, Ben Wedeman (who was among the first to Tweet the fact that some pro-Mubarak thugs were sent by the National Petroleum Company to attack the anti-Mubarak protesters), Jomana Karadsheh, and several others.

Courage is contagious, whether in Egypt or out. So is integrity.

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