Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not so Nobel Criticism (A longish post, sorry)

I admit it, I thought the Nobel was silly, too. So did plenty of other libs. But even sillier than the Norwegians' sudden urge to worship Obama as the Christ to Bush's anti-Christ (or, if Bill O'Reilly is right about Scandinavia these days, the anti-Christ to Bush's Christ) was the hysterical conservative reaction. Case in point, the psychos at World Net Daily.

Pat Buchanan chided the Nobel folks for "meddling in the internal affairs of the United States."

They have reinforced the impression that Obama is someone who is forever being given prizes—Ivy League scholarships, law review editorships, prime-time speaking slots at national conventions—he did not earn. They have put him under moral pressure to mollify a pacifist left. They have brought him to the point, dangerous in politics, where a man becomes the butt of reflexive jokes, as did Bill Clinton in the Monica affair.

The irony, of course, being that it is people like Buchanan who have been yelling about all the supposed honors Obama has supposedly not earned, and which in any case must only have happened due to his skin color, not any actual effort or merit (Buchanan's column is titled, "The Affirmative Action Nobel." Classy and a red herring! Nice job, Pat.) Incidentally, since the Nobel is awarded to people taking an active role in either their local communities or on a national/global scale, and since (post-1974) it's only given to people who are, you know, alive, under Pat's logic is there any scenario where giving the prize to someone would not constitute a potential "interference" in a country's affairs? I mean, not everyone liked Mandela or Rabin or Arafat, either. Being influential often means being controversial as well. The suggestion that the Nobel people inserted themselves into our "national conversation" by giving the Prize to a sitting President is a total non-sequiteur. The same thing happened when they gave it to Wilson and T.R. The real problem here is that it shows the committee to be ridiculously political and to have myopic vision, not that it's going to have far-reaching effects on how Americans see Obama. He's gotten far more lasting reactions (good and bad) for half a dozen speech sound bites during the last two years. Nice attempt at pretending to feel sorry for how hard this is going to make things for Obama, Pat, but I'm not buying it. This is silly, but far from a political albatross.

In the meantime, pro-life warhorse Jill Stanek, who is nothing if not, um, focused, in her weekly attempts to make every issue somehow come back to abortion, fumed that the prize went to Obama, rather than someone she felt to be far more worthy:

That the Nobel Peace Prize committee would honor this prenatal baby terrorist is insane, but this wasn't its trip around the bend.

Oh please, genteel GOPers, do remind me again about how liberals are destroying respectful social discourse.

In 2007 the Nobel Peace Prize committee snubbed nominee Irena Sendler to bestow its award to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Vice President Al Gore.

You may never have heard of Irena Sendler, whose humanitarian carbon footprint has been largely hidden under a bushel.

Sendler was a Polish Catholic social worker who during World War II daringly and repeatedly risked her life to save 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Unfortunately, since the Nobel Peace Prize may only be awarded to living people, the committee cannot correct itself, since Sendler died seven months after being bypassed, at the age of 98.

Also Obama's fault, clearly. Doesn't he have anything better to do than to go to Poland and start killing its old grandmothers, too?

Here's where Stanek crosses from jerk into jackass territory:

So Irena Sendler, responsible for saving the lives of thousands of children during the Jewish Holocaust, does not win the Nobel Peace Prize, and Barack Obama, responsible for the deaths of thousands – perhaps millions of children during the Abortion Holocaust, does.

Oh yeah, that's a totally fair and accurate comparison to lay at the Nobel Committee's-- and Obama's-- feet. So apparently the take-home message from all of this is that the Nobel people love abortion and hate Holocaust Good Samaritans. I sure am glad we cleared that up. Oh, and the dual use of "Holocaust?" Brilliant, and in excellent taste. I'm sure Sendler would love you exploiting her war experiences and the suffering of, I don't know, everyone around you to make a cheap political point. Bravo.

Last but still stupid, Dennis Prager decided to whip out his trusty fake philosophy professor tone (with a heavy dose of Dennis telepathy) to demonstrate all the ways in which the Nobel Committee people are totally a bunch of poopy-heads.

They may be moral idiots, but they are not stupid: I believe that they had two clear aims.

One is to undercut American exceptionalism – the notion that America has a superior moral value system to that of the "world" (specifically the United Nations and the European Union) and America's willing to use its unique power, alone when necessary, in accordance with that value system. The other is to promote an essentially pacifist agenda.

Dennis may be right about the pacifism issue (in a very general way, you know, the only way Dennis is ever right about things) but the exceptionalism thing is silly. The approximately 50% of the American population that still believes that America is "the best country in the history of countries" with a specific destiny to be a super-power and which has the best moral compass on earth which can never go wrong are hardly going to have their minds changed by a bunch of goofs in Norway. And the rest of the population stopped believing that simplistic (and just plain incorrect) claptrap a long time ago and has diligently been teaching the next generations that, yeah, actually, America's done (and still does) plenty of things to disprove the notion that we are perfect, sinless, God-created angels and that our geopolitical power is somehow an indication of a special moral vision that leads us along.

Dennis then fisks the Nobel announcement. This post is already too long and it would be too confusing to fisk a fisking, but the gist seems to be that Dennis is mad because the Nobel people seem to like the UN and dislike nuclear weapons. He tosses in a Churchill-Chamberlin-Hitler reference just for fun. The one area Dennis actually tries for some substance instead of Norway-bashing is when he claims Obama's administration has not been as friendly to democratic movements worldwide as it could have been.

Under Barack Obama, the United States has not been the friend of democrats around the world. America has responded weakly to the democratic movement in Iran, ended the funding of the largest pro-Iranian human rights groups in America, pressured democratic Israel, made overtures to Hugo Chavez while denying American ally and pro-democratic Colombia a free-trade agreement, abandoned Honduran anti-Chavez democrats, and has obsequiously deferred to Vladimir Putin.

Some of Dennis' facts are right here, but others are being tilted. Obama's Iran policy has clearly been to try to prod the regime towards the bargaining table, and unfortunately it looks like they're willing to sacrifice dissidents and watchdogs to try to coerce the "moderates" in power to not get riled up against them. On the other hand, as much as Dennis might like to pretend otherwise, Obama's pressure on Israel has faded fast, as Barry Rubin noted a few weeks ago:

To this day, the US government under Obama has not taken a single material step against Israel and no such development seems to be on the horizon either.

So, nice try, Dennis, but no dice.

On Honduras things are trickier; Zelaya doesn't seem to be great (especially with that anti-Israel rant a while back) but neither are military coups or holding last-minute sessions of Congress (without everyone there, no less) to make the whole thing nice and (technically) legal. When not a single country in the world has been willing to recognize the new government of a country after a coup, that may be a sign that not everything is coming up roses. For god's sake, not even a significant number of Congressional Republicans are even pretending to care about the anti-Zelaya government-- a House Resolution supporting the Micheletti government and condemning Zelaya's return only has 32 co-sponsors: a scant one-fifth of the House Republicans. The Senate doesn't even seem to have heard about it. Don't bitch about Obama not supporting Micheletti when the Republicans won't.

Now, I know Dennis is pissy because he thinks Zelaya is too buddy-buddy with Hugo Chavez (which seems to be the biggest anti-Zelaya talking point floating out there), but if you really care about democracy in Honduras the answer should be to hold new and fair elections, not support a government that just randomly installed itself and has already been accused of human rights abuses without even being in power for four months. Not such a good start.

Admittedly, Chavez is a jerk but I haven't noticed Obama getting in line to give ol' Hugo foot massages. And they don't seem to be on the same page when it comes to this international socialism takeover thing. The Columbia thing I admit to not knowing a damn thing about, though since Dennis is including it in his Al Cheit list for Obama I'm going to assume he's somehow blowing it out of proportion.

Last, when it comes to Putin, again, Obama may not be great, but really, how can conservatives even pretend to have a leg to stand on with this when Bush spent years dying to get BFF bracelets with the guy?

Last bit:

9. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Meaning: With Barack Obama, we in Europe finally have an opportunity to end American exceptionalism.

The Oslo committee's view is, tragically, true. Thanks to Barack Obama, America is for the first time is aligning its values with those of "the majority of the world's population." If you think the world's population has had better values than America, that it has made societies that are more open, free and tolerant than American society, and that it has fought for others' liberty more than America has, you should be delighted.

Take that, the world!

Hey Dennis, what if you think the construct that "America's values" and "the world's values" are necessarily polar opposites is moronic? America is PART of the world, bozo. It's logical that there should be some issues we can come to a global consensus on (child hunger: bad), and others where national, cultural, or social priorities affect what side people support (ex: some people in Africa don't mind the moral issues of conflict diamonds because they help them make money. Some people in America don't mind the moral issues of supporting Saudi Arabia because they help THEM make money). By continuing to hold onto his dopey exceptionalism argument, Dennis require America to stand alone in opposition to everyone else, which is particularly silly when America's history clearly demonstrates plenty of occasions where we have hardly been pillars of moral excellence when compared to our global peers. Before the American Revolution, Scandinavians had already had democratic institutions for 1,000 years. England ended slavery over thirty years before America. It passed --and enforced-- child labor laws almost 100 years before us. As far as I can find, France never had a signle anti-miscegenation law on its books. Mexico gave its Indians full citizenship and rights in 1821, again, almost 100 years before us. Exactly how many examples do you need?

Get over it, Dennis. We are not a god-blessed snowflake. We are a real country with real needs, problems, and challenges, one of which has been how to balance our own interests (however broadly or narrowly defined) with our values. The fact that you'd like to believe we're a light unto the nations doesn't make it so, just like the fact that you'd like to paint every other country as either evil or complicit with evil doesn't make that reality, either.


mdeals said...

I don't think about noble when i read your blog post..........its really too long...

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

I know, sad, isn't it?