Nobel Decision

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Jeez-Louise, what’s with all the catcalls against the Nobel Committee’s decision to award this year’s Peace Prize to President Obama — particularly the ones coming from progressives?

Me, I agree with and applaud the committee’s decision.

I admit, though, that my first reaction on hearing the news was, “Yeah, but what has he actually done to deserve this award?”

I think the Nobel Committee probably anticipated that question. I mean, we all do understand that these things aren’t decided on a whim, right? Actually, I think one of the reasons for their selection was to challenge people to actually think about why they did what they did.

Among other reasons, the Committee likely considered these factors:

A. President Obama represents the return of the United States as a world leader — one the world wants to follow, that is. Under the Bush administrations, the US led the world, too. The difference, of course, was that Bush was leading us off the edge of a cliff and the rest of the world considered that a bad idea.

B. By awarding Obama the prize, the Committee is likely nudging him down the path toward peace. The timing, as the Obama administration is deciding what to do about Afghanistan, may have played a role.

C. Politics. I’ve already read the indignant objections that the committee politicized the award. Two words: Duh, and, good. Prizes are always about politics at some level. In this case the award was political, not in the partisan sense, per se, but in the sense of endorsing a political philosophy, i.e., the vision thing.

D. Race. Obama didn’t receive the Peace prize because he is Black. But, I do think race entered into the decision in this sense: Europeans in general have never been reluctant to point out racism in the United States. Tell me if I’m wrong, but by electing Obama president, I believe the US became the first industrialized nation to elect as its leader someone who is not merely a member of the majority ethnic population. This is big. Imagine the UK with an Anglo-Pakistani Prime Minister or France with a Franco-Algerian President. Or, for that matter, Norway with a Sami PM. With the steady stream of racist invective directed against Obama by Glenn Beck, et al., we forget that a majority of American voters elected a president who is bi-racial, something Europe has yet to do.

The most obvious thing to state about Obama’s selection is that it is a surprise. Can we please move passed what’s obvious and ponder a bit on the possible, less obvious motivations? Can we, in other words, allow ourselves to be visionaries, as the Nobel Committee was in making their decision?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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