Nobel Decision

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


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?

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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