Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pop quiz…

…from Greg Laden.

As an exercise in self appraisal, try this. Of the following individuals, which ones can you identify as to what country they are affiliated with, what they may have done to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (they all were), or what job they had?
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Albert Lutuli, Albert Schweitzer, Alfonso García Robles, Alfred Hermann Fried, Al Gore, Alva Myrdal, Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, Aristide Briand, Arthur Henderson, Auguste Marie François Beernaert, Aung San Suu Kyi, Austen Chamberlain, Bertha von Suttner, Betty Williams, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Carl von Ossietzky, Cecil of Chelwood, Charles Albert Gobat, Charles Gates Dawes, Christian Lous Lange, Cordell Hull, Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld, David Trimble, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Eisaku Sato, Élie Ducommun, Elie Wiesel, Elihu Root, Emily Greene Balch, Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Ferdinand Buisson, Frank B. Kellogg, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Fredrik Bajer, Fridtjof Nansen, Friends Service Council, George Catlett Marshall, Georges Pire, Grameen Bank, Gustav Stresemann, Henri La Fontaine, Henry A. Kissinger, Hjalmar Branting, Jane Addams, Jean Henry Dunant, Jimmy Carter, Jody Williams, John Hume, John, Lord Boyd-Orr of Brechin, John Raleigh Mott, Joseph Rotblat, José Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae Jung, Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Kofi Annan, Lars Olof Jonathan (Nathan) Söderblom, League of Red Cross societies, Lech Wałęsa, Lê Ðuc Tho, Léon Jouhaux, Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois, Lester Bowles Pearson, Linus Carl Pauling, Louis Renault, Ludwig Quidde, Mairead Corrigan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Martti Ahtisaari, Médecins Sans Frontières, Menachem Begin, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, Mohamed ElBaradei, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Yunus, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Murray Butler, Norman E. Borlaug, Óscar Arias Sánchez, Paul-Henri-Benjamin d'Estournelles de Constant, Philip J. Noel-Baker, Ralph Bunche, René Cassin, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Seán MacBride, Shimon Peres, Shirin Ebadi, Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane), Tenzin Gyatso, Theodore Roosevelt, Tobias Michael Carel Asser, Wangari Muta Maathai, William Randal Cremer, Willy Brandt, Woodrow Wilson, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin.
Seriously. Read through that list. The people who awarded this prize can explain who each of these individuals is and why they were given the Nobel. Chance are, as a moderately to very well educated American, you can barely identify one in ten of these individuals. So please consider the possibility that you have, as many of us do, too narrow a perspective to be shooting your mouth off about what kind of job the Oslo committee did.
The simple fact is that virtually no one whining about whether Obama "deserves" the NPP, or whether it has come prematurely, has, at best, a very limited notion of who the previous recipients were, what they were recognized for, whether their goals were actually achieved or when in their careers they received the prize.

The Nobel Committee's authority to determine who, why and when to award the Peace Prize is absolute. You may disagree with them if you wish, but their selection is, by definition, the right choice at the right time. The rest of us may be entitled to our opinions, however ill-informed, but we don't have a vote.

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