Saturday, October 10, 2009

Guest Post from The Dean: It's Promoting Racial Harmony, Stupid

One of the best posts I've read about President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize came from ... the blog right next to me.

Here's my husband The Dean's post from his blog this morning on the latest cause of presidential agita.

You know, I tried not to write about President Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Everybody's written about it, blogged it, Tweeted the shit out of it. But I have no choice.

Here's a newsflash for all of the assholes out there who are angry and incredulous that "that man in the White House" [as Republicans used to refer to FDR] won the award: admit you just don't like him.

C'mon, admit it. If you're one of those lunatics screaming that Obama "did nothing" to earn the award then I would say to you he's also "done nothing" to warrant you spitting poison about the man like he had just upstaged Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards.

If you're going to point the finger at the Nobel committee and say that they "fell under Obama's spell", then you have to point that same bony little finger back at yourself because by the intensity and temperature of your anger you, too, must have "fallen under his spell": why else would you be getting so worked up about the leader of your nation winning an award that has absolutely zero impact on your daily lives but yet provides a psychological boost for the country as a whole?

And another thing: I was as surprised as anyone - not to mention the President himself - when I woke up yesterday morning, fired up the computer and saw that Obama was a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Surprised. Not angry. Not incredulous. Not full of venom. Surprised. I was probably even a little bewildered. But angry? Why the hell would I be angry that my President won the Nobel Peace Prize? It's not like the Jonas Brothers won the damned thing.

Oh, and one more thing: I've been thinking about it and I think we all may have overlooked one very important thing that may explain why Obama won the award. It's going to drive racists out there nuts, but here goes:

He's black.

Think about what Obama did in 2008: he managed to run as an African American candidate for President only ten years after James Byrd was dragged through a Texas road by the back of a truck, lynched because he was black.

Only 15 years after the O.J. Simpson verdict polarized an entire country based solely on race.

Only 16 years after the L.A. race riots.

Obama didn't win because African Americans voted for him. He won because whites voted for him. In droves. In a country where less than 40 years ago it is debatable whether the man would've been able to buy a house in their neighborhood, send his children to their schools, get a seat at a diner, or find a room in their hotels.

You may remember that one of the reasons the Nobel Committee cited Nelson Mandela when they gave him the award in 1993 was because of his ability to unite white and black South Africa politically [although, to be factually correct, the actual election of Mandela didn't take place until the following year]. In America, perhaps we're too close to it to realize just what an amazing accomplishment that was - both for Obama and ourselves. Or what a colossal step toward racial harmony [i.e. peace] it might mean for the country as a whole.

If you look at Obama's winning the Nobel through that prism, suddenly it doesn't seem so crazy that he won.

With the possible exception of Martin Luther King [1964], the award has generally not been given for peacemaking efforts within the United States. We tend to think of the award as rewarding those who worked for peace in those parts of the world we consider to be violent, or 'third-world'. The fact that - for many African Americans, even today - parts of America are not unlike the "Third World" often escapes the attention of those of us driving cars with satellite radios.

Yes, Obama has worked to try to reincorporate the United States into the good graces of our allies. And he's worked to try to bring India and Pakistan closer together. He's worked to try to do what no human being has yet been able to: make the Arabs and Jews stop hating each other long enough to lay down their arms. He's worked for a reduction in nuclear weapons.

He's done all of that. If you're looking at all of that and thinking that's why he won the Nobel Prize, though, you're missing the point that I think the Committee was making. Based on just that alone, Obama doesn't win the Peace Prize.

It's that in conjunction with his ability to rally a nation riven with racial strife for it's entire history to a point where an African American who - 45 years ago couldn't get a decent hotel room in Washington D.C. - now sleeps in the White House as something other than the Chief Porter.

That's change. That's promoting peace. The odds were astronomical when he launched his campaign. Obama did more to promote racial harmony [again, read "peace"] than anyone else in America in 2008.

And that's why he's a Nobel Prize winner.

Deal with it.


Zee said...

I'm one of those who, upon hearing the news, asked myself: Why? I like the President. I voted for him. I volunteered with Obama for President. I am still not convinced that he was the right choice this year, but your husbands post certainly made me a little bit more sure that it is. Thank him for the excellent argument.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

He says to thank you for the very kind words. (And I was also in the same boat as you, wondering why, even though I like Obama and voted for him.)

Amy said...

I still don't think it was the right year....but I'm not angry. And I didn't vote for him. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing it with us. Your husband makes a great point, one that is clearly easy to overlook. When I heard the news, it made me smile. After all, what's the point of anger on this one? I'll never get it. It's a feel good for the whole country... what's not to like about that?

Christine said...

Great post! I'm with Kristen. I mean "Wow!" The Nobel Peace Prize. Even if it is purely a symbolic way of saying that the rest of the world (or at least the prize committee) stands behind what Obama stands for. ... well, that's something!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Thanks to the Dean for helping me to sort out my reaction to this one - I didn't understand why it was awarded to Obama, but also couldn't understand the angry reactions of some!