Although 2010 has started out with Americans reeling from a terror scare, the passengers on Flight 253 showed a great deal of courage when they took action and stopped a terrorist. The incident prompted me to think about the five most courageous -- and cowardly acts of 2009:


1.  Lloyd Gardner’s Donation of £10,000 Reward for Locating Rape Suspect 

A 22-year-old British waiter named Lloyd Garner identified two women from a news report who later helped police locate a man who allegedly raped an Exeter woman. Gardner refused the £10,000 and instead donated the money to the alleged victim instead. "It was a difficult decision to make because it is a lot of money and it would have been very helpful, but I didn't feel like I deserved it at all,” Gardner told the BBC back in October. "With the state that the girl was in after the incident, I really felt that it would go towards making her life a lot better over the next couple of years."

2.  Actress Angie Harmon for Challenging Leftist Scare Tactics 

In March, Actress Angie Harmon was one of the first to denounce the scare tactics used by the far-left to label anyone a racist simply because they disagreed with President Obama. “If I have anything to say against Obama it's not because I'm a racist, it's because I don't like what he's doing as president and anybody should be able to feel that way, but what I find now is that if you say anything against him you're called a racist,” she told a Los Angeles reporter.

3.  Will Phillips, a 10-year Old Boy Who Refused to Say the Pledge of Allegiance

In November, Will Phillips, a 10-year-old boy in Arkansas declined to say the pledge of allegiance with his class because he believed that freedom should guarantee the right for gays to marry. Regardless of one’s view on the Pledge or gay marriage, this was an act of courage and integrity rarely seen from even most adults.

4.  Former U.S. Congressman Gary Condit for Not Deflecting Suspicion 

Even after enduring eight years of false accusations and undue suspicion for the murder of missing U.S. Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy, former Congressman Gary Condit did not point any fingers after Washington, D.C. police finally arrested a new suspect, Ingmar Guandique. It would have been easy to jump on the media bandwagon before a trial, especially after what he’s been through.

5.  U.S. Prosecutors who Issued Arrest Warrant for Roman Polanski in Zurich, Switzerland 

In September, Swiss authorities detained award winning director Roman Polanski in Switzerland after California prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for allegedly raping a 13-year old girl in 1977.


1.  Shooting at U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum by Holocaust Denier

Holocaust-denier James Von Brunn shot an innocent security officer Stephen Tyrone Jones with a .22 caliber rifle. Von Brunn was apprehended by other officers and is now awaiting trial the nation’s capitol. It has since been revealed Von Brunn’s government benefits ran out, which some suspect was the real reason for this pathetic act.

2.  President Obama’s Delay in Supporting the People of Iran 

President Bush and the Congress passed the “Iran Freedom Support Act” which made it official policy for the U.S. to support democracy and freedom for the people of Iran. Obama’s delay in showing any support for the Revolution of 2009 sent a message to that America is faltering as leader of the free world. It was too little, too late.

3.  Arlen Specter’s Defection to the Democratic Party for Re-election Purposes

When Senator James Jeffords left the Republican Party in 2001, he became an independent to maintain a system of checks and balances and prevent the dominance of one party over another, which was an honorable act. When Republican Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania defected to the Democratic Party this year, he said he did so because he couldn’t get reelected as a Republican, and as a result, handed unilateral power to one party that arguably had too much power already.

4.  Media’s Shameful Treatment of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin

Instead of attacking Governor Palin on the merits of her beliefs, the media has launched inappropriate, cruel personal attacks and done this repeatedly. "Late Show" host David Letterman and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd are the appointed recipients of this award.

5.  Republican Party’s Abandonment of President George W. Bush

Although a running theme during President Bush’s second term, Republicans failed to vindicate themselves in 2009 by defending their former commander-in-chief in the midst of frequent, misdirected attacks from the Obama administration.Exempt from this blatant act of cowardice and disloyalty is Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the few Republicans who has not been shy about defending the administration’s actions or the Bush doctrine.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former Washington, D.C. prosecutor who now works as a lawyer and investigative reporter. He can be reached at jshapiro@ufl.edu.