Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Anti-Obama Folks Are At It Again

I really have to stop reading comments on the Net. Generally the criticism Of President Obama's selection for the Nobel Peace Prize goes something like this: he was only in office for 11 days when the nominations were made; he hasn't brought about peace any where; he hasn't done any thing; he's the sorriest president ever; he needs to be thrown out of office; he should give it back; etc. Allegedly, there is a petition circulating via the Net calling upon the selection committee to revoke the award. I didn't seek it out; I really don't want my head to explode. Following is my general response to all of this anti-Obama claptrap. I don't recall there being this much hate when Yasser Arafat was a recipient.

There is no prerequisite that a Nobel Peace Prize recipient must be a president of a country so Obama's time in office isn't relevant. Indeed, most of the recipients are not presidents of any country. He's been a voice publicly calling for diplomacy and peaceful resolution of conflict since he began his campaign for president more than two years ago. The award is not for being president, it is for advocating for the use of diplomatic means to settle disputes and for advocacy on behalf of engendering peaceful interactions among nations. All past members have not necessarily been successful at accomplishing their goals; many have failed. President Woodrow Wilson received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to start the League of Nations which ended up being a dismal failure, primarily due to the United States refusal to be bound by the tenets of the League. The current United Nations evolved out of the ash heap of residual ideals left from Wilson's efforts.

I'm not interested in debating whether people share my belief that Obama does deserve the honor bestowed upon him. I know that you can't change my mind and I doubt that I can change anyone's mind who doesn't agree with me. However, I do think that the discussion needs to be framed in relevant facts.

In addition, the Nobel Peace Prize has never been awarded based on world consensus. The committee has never in the past called up the U.S. and asked us how we feel about a proposed selection. It's sheer arrogance to believe that Americans should be able to dictate how the selection is made. The nominees do not nominate themselves and they don't campaign to win. The nominees are not even made aware of their nomination until the winner is announced.

President Obama did not seek this honor. I've read comments on other sites where people have taken him to task for not refusing to accept the award. What an insult to the selection committee and the entire process for him to do so! He respectfully and with humility thanked the committee. To do otherwise would contradict all precedent.

Finally, if we examine past recipients, this isn't a new thing to select a winner based on that person's philosophical ideology, a person who has not brought about peace or brokered a treaty. Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa come to mind. Tutu was recognized for his opposition to apartheid, his strong support of human rights and his message of reconciliation in South Africa. He has never ruled a country or held a political office. Mother Teresa was recognized for her leadership and self-sacrifice in her humanitarian efforts to attend to the needs of those living in poverty. Again, she was not a ruler or elected to public office. I don't note this to disparage the selection of Tutu or Mother Teresa. To the contrary, I believe that both were deserving based on their commitment to offering a consistent message regarding our obligations to humankind, especially those who have the least of any of us. Their ideological beliefs motivated their actions in actively advocating for change to ensure advancement in human rights. However, Tutu didn't eliminate apartheid nor did Mother Theresa eliminate poverty.

If you are interested in reading a history of the awarding of the Nobel Peace prize there is a very informative article online, The History of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1901-2000, that provides some insight as to the criteria for selection.


warrior scout said...

personally, i am soooo happy i have a blog that allows me to write down all the sh-t that keeps rolling around in my head. otherwise, i don't think i'd ever get any sleep.

i'm not really sure about the peace price myself, but i haven't been given the responsibility or earned the right to award it to anyone, so i figure i'll leave it up to those who have earned it.

i'm listening to trisha yearwood share her version of "walk away joe" on your player and think that's mighty fine sentiemnts..

i.o.w. (in other words) i agree...

ADB said...

I am not American, nor resident in the USA. Nonetheless, I count myself as a supporter of Mr Obama. I did not understand (upon hearing the news) why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this early in his presidency, although I agree that he has gone out of his way to mount a diplomatic effort to promote world peace. Placed in the context of who Mr Obama succeeded, the Bush dynasty who would fire before asking questions, Barack Obama is an enormous improvement. Maybe that lay behind his nomination. As you say, the criteria of the Nobel committee are not the ones we as world citizens at large may apply. Thank you for a thought provoking entry.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

As always, a very well and thoughtfully produced entry. Thank you. You have inspired me to make an entry on this, and you will be linked my friend :o)

Beth said...

Perfectly put, Sheria. One of the best takes on it was a piece that told the American people, "This isn't American Idol, folks. You don't get to text in your vote." It's exactly that kind of arrogance coming from those who believe they know better than the Nobel Committee that made us so hated around the world for far too long. I'm sure these same people think Bush did a fiiiine job, and really kicked some ass! Spare me.

Hugs, Beth

Gerry said...

I don't think anyone else even comes close to being the best candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize but Obama. I think they got this right, and for all the reasons that you have so eloquently named.
As for the anti-Obama folks, they have always been there and they are not going to go away easy. I can understand your agitation over them because at any point they could become extremely dangerous to the cause of making the world more hospitable to people of color. But I am happy to celebrate the recognition of Obama on the world stage as an outstanding voice for peace. And I would like you to be able to put aside your fears even for a little while and give us more of your feelings of elation and pride, because such feelings also have great power. That is how we know that people of color have a mighty spirit to feel joy and celebration when a goal has been reached that is truly evidence of how hard they have worked and how far they have come. Gerry

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

To me it comes down to this. A contrast between existence and actions. It is pretty easy to argue that there are other people whose 'actions' on behalf of world peace exceed those of Obama to date. Fine. Give them the prize. But is is tough to argue that anyone else, by their mere 'existence' as a player on the world stage, has a greater impact than Barack Obama.

Alan said...

I was going to jump into the converstion on your last post, but you seem to have covered most of my points here. Very few of the Peace Prize recipients have had such impact on global attitude, posture, an hope as the election of Obama has had. I suppose the could have given the award to the American public for electing him (and tacitly endorsing his policys.) But they don't award to such ambiguous groups, and, at least a few of our more rabid citizens don't agree with anything Obama says, does, or represents. So, it was a good choice, and it wasn't about Obama the man, it was about Obama the icon of an ideal.