Nobel Decision

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


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?

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate