Who should have won

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Action in the world ought to trump worlds evoked by words, es­pe­cially when award­ing a global prize al­legedly rec­og­niz­ing sus­tained, coura­geous ef­fort on be­half of peace in our world’s deeply con­flicted cor­ners.

We live in an age when the farce of his­tory pre­cedes the tragedy, how­ever, and even a few left-wing me­dia and aca­demic elites re­al­ize giv­ing Pres­i­dent Obama a No­bel Peace Prize is ut­ter, rol­lick­ing balder­dash.

Over a life­time of es­thetic agony and ec­stasy, a well­wrought world of words might de­serve a No­bel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture. Lit­er­ary lau­re­ate William Faulkner made that point in his 1949 No­bel ac­cep­tance speech: “I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work — a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the hu­man spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to cre­ate out of the ma­te­ri­als of the hu­man spirit some­thing which did not ex­ist be­fore.”

Em­bar­rassed Nor­we­gians and stand-up comics now sug­gest­ing the in­sta-cre­ation of a No­bel Prize for In­spir­ing Speeches still con­front the trou­bling is­sues of his­tor­i­cal com­par­i­son and sus­tained qual­ity. Mr. Obama’s speeches (per­for­mance-en­hanced by the steroids of a teleprompter) don’t be­gin to com­pare in ei­ther rhetor­i­cal bril­liance or his­tor­i­cal grav­ity to Win­ston Churchill’s im­promptu back­bench ora­tions warn­ing Bri­tish peaceniks and dis­ar­ma­ment ad­vo­cates of the threat posed to civ­i­liza­tion by Adolf Hitler.

At this point in his ca­reer, Mr. Obama’s stemwinders rate — at most — an Emmy for “best per­for­mance be­fore a fawn­ing au­di­ence” or per­haps an Addy (an award ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies pin on one an­other).

So why did he get it when there are so many de­serv­ing, suf­fer­ing candidates strug­gling for jus­tice, free­dom and peace in Earth’s most op­pres- sive Hells?

Mr. Obama’s No­bel is the re­sult of the Left’s “long march through the in­sti­tu­tions,” a phrase en­cap­su­lat­ing the route ‘60s hard left po­lit­i­cal rad­i­cals took to gain con­trol of uni­ver­si­ties, me­dia, re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, arts and lit­er­ary as­so­ci­a­tions, and busi­nesses in or­der to break the chains of “bour­geois” hege­mony and bring about “true revo­lu­tion.” If this sounds neo-or semi-or vaguely Marx­ist, well, in­deed it is — sec­u­lar utopi­ans ded­i­cated to cre­at­ing par­adise on earth once the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect peo­ple are in con­trol.

The “long marchers” be­long to the per­ma­nent griev­ance clan that in­sis­tently claims its mem­bers are re­pressed and op­pressed by (fill in the blank) cap­i­tal­ist, tra­di­tion­al­ist, colo­nial­ist, sex­ist, West­ern or (when they are re­ally on a roll) “Amerikan” val­ues.

Now it’s 2009, they’ve marched, sagged in the belly and jowls, and Mr. Obama’s No­bel is a clue they’ve cre­ated a self-re­ward­ing cir­cle of cronies, giv­ing at­taboys and prizes to their pals. The joke is on every­one ex­cept the clas­si­cists — ge­niuses like Sopho­cles, Shake­speare and Faulkner — who un­der­stand the per­ma­nent grip of hu­man flaws, es­pe­cially self-ag­gran­diz­ing power.

What kind of action in the world jus­ti­fies a No­bel Peace Prize? Avert­ing nu­clear war be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan ought to earn one, and a good case can be made that Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion did just that in 2002.

An Is­lamo-fas­cist ter­ror at­tack on In­dia’s par­lia­ment in New Delhi ig­nited the con­fronta­tion. The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­tri­cate diplo­macy helped defuse that Ar­maged­don (and it may have done so again fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ist at­tack on Mum­bai in 2008). How­ever, long marchers don’t give No­bels to Repub­li­can pres­i­dents be­cause Repub­li­cans are (fill in the blank) cap­i­tal­ist, tra­di­tional- ist, et cetera.

Zim­babwe’s Prime Min­is­ter Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai ought to have won the 2009 peace prize, and the fact he didn’t is damn­ing. Giants among us like Mr. Ts­van­gi­rai demon­strate that “peace war­rior” is no oxy­moron. Since the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of 2008, which Zim­bab­wean dic­ta­tor Robert Mu­gabe stole, Mr. Ts­van­gi­rai has pro­vided a global les­son in phys­i­cal courage and lon­grange vi­sion.

De­spite beat­ings, jail and the death of his wife, he has re­fused to let Mr. Mu­gabe’s “ma­chin­ery of vi­o­lence” stall his steady, peace­ful Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change. A prime min­is­ter with lit­tle po­lit­i­cal power, Mr. Ts­van­gi­rai’s adroit par­tic­i­pa­tion in a “unity gov­ern­ment” has pre­vented (so far) a civil war. A No­bel would have pro­vided pro­tec­tion for him, as well as for­warded his quest for peace.

Austin Bay is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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