And the Winner is ...
By MAX BROCKBANK
Irish rock superstar and champion of the Third World Bono snatches TIMEeurope.com Online Heroes Poll
More than 1 in 3 votes went to the U2 frontman and charity superstar. One of those who voted was Giancarlo Rocca. He described the Irishman as: "A real hero: from rock to the United Nations... He spends celebrity in the best way." Another was Thomas Voßen who backed Bono, saying: "Because he uses his reputation to make this world a better place." Helga Baumgartner described him as "the most charismatic man ever. He brings joy and peace and love to the world with his songs."
Coming a close second to Bono was French president Jaques Chirac. His popularity was strongly underpinned by his opposition to war in Iraq. Nominating Chirac, A. T. Certik said: "His heroic stand against US imperialism in the face of potentially serious consequences reminds me of the image of the lone Chinese dissident standing in front of the column of tanks."
But a vote for Monsieur le President wasn't necessarily a vote for success. Trevor Evans wrote, paradoxically: "[Jacques Chirac is my hero] Because he has shown how ineffective the European Union really is."
In third place with almost 5,000 votes came British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He also seems to have won votes because of his stance over Iraq. Björn Tranaeus said: "He stood up and told his people his Iraq opinion. His counterpart Bush was more a burden than a support — unable to tell anybody anything." Bernd Luckas backed Mr Blair because he was "not only interested in political survival!" And Alex Strieker described the British premier as having "great steadfastness in the face of overwhelming adverse stupidity."
Other candidates received plaudits too. Mark Wassouf nominating Pope John Paul II said: "He is the embodiment of all that is good, taking the moral stance in spite of all things and doing more than any other religious leader to bridge religious divides and breed tolerance." And Tina Lorien said: "I am not religious, but he is the only important person right now who dares to speak out for peace."
Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux computer operating system and advocate of "Open Source" software, was the hero of Jari Lehtinen. He wrote: "Linux shows how inspiration, ideas and cooperation are mightier than the power of money — and lead to better solutions."
Lech Walesa was nominated by many including Andres Jimenez, who told TIME. "Walesa's values and determination — through peaceful principles — taught the world that one man can make a difference in an oppressive totalitarian system."
South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela was the top-placed African. Gregor Mackenzie said: "He has all the attributes of Mount Everest, nobody else could be that strong in this world, especially in his shoes." Kelly R Cooper said: "Mandela has inspired millions of people not just to do what is right, but to do something at all."
The poll was restricted to living heroes but many people suggested others including Winston Churchill, Marshal Tito, Zoran Djindjic, and even Jesus and Mohammed.
Other "late" entrants included Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Taner Yildiz said simply of the founder of modern Turkey: "He gave us our freedom." Huseyin Sezgi Ergun confessed: "I cannot find a word to say for him that's enough."
Margherita Bracci also has a dead hero, Louis Lazare Zamenhoff. She wrote: "Kreinto de la universala lingvo ESPERANTO." That last word is the key, however, L.L.Zamenhoff created Esperanto. Another supporter, Roberto Palacios, explained: "He wanted to unite all of Europe by means of a single language, so he created Esperanto, the easiest language to learn."
But some praise can be two-edged. Another "hero" disqualified on grounds of nonviability was Lenin. In nominating the father of the Soviet Union, Tji Weir said: "He took an idiotic idea and built a great country out of it."
And can "Casanova Narcisse" be believed when he writes: "My hero is Me, because i know I'm the best and i love myself so much...!" However, if Bonnie Tyler was right and we all need a hero, where better to start?
FROM THE APRIL 28, 2003 ISSUE OF TIME MAGAZINE; POSTED SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2003
© 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.