Who should have won
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.