AWESOME! That's exactly what I thought when I got the news that our President, Barack Obama, had been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. What a statement and a testament to a man who has only held the office of Presidency for ten short months! It's a proud moment, indeed, for the United States of America who had lost so much stature in world affairs over the last several years.
Then...my jaw dropped, my eyes teared, and my heart sank as pundits and the right-wing began wagging their necrotic tongues. Their effusive dialogue can only be said to belie their continuous postulations of patriotism and love of this country.
While, I guess, the reaction should have been predictable, my optimistic and hopeful nature evidently blurred any prescience I might have had at my disposal. My moment of pride was soon defiled by the vitriol unleashed by loathsome pseudo-patriots of the right-wing.
Understanding that much of the current rancor among right-wingers and Republicans is lodged in the bowels of abject racism it should have come as no surprise when Erick Erickson of Red State retorted "I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an Affirmative Action quota, but that is the only thing I can think of for this news."
It was surprising, however, in that he should make such an overtly racist statement and be so blatantly ignorant as to the nature of the prize which has recognized individuals of every race and nationality worldwide. Through such an acerbic statement Erickson not only cheapened the coveted prize but himself as well.
Additionally, the reaction by Rush Limbaugh was one that should have been easily predicted as the voracious and disgruntled Republican has been spewing his hate-filled, right wingnuttery for months now. This morning was no different as he said, "The Nobel gang just suicide bombed themselves," and "Something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn't deserve the award."
The equally distasteful and repugnant Glenn Beck commented, "Obama doesn't deserve the prize but the Tea Party protestors do." Now, just what have the tea-baggers accomplished for world peace, I ask you?
With that, things got worse. Many suggest that he should not accept the prize while others question his "achievements," therefore whether or not he is deserving of such an honor. Still others belittle the prize itself.
In fairness, there are many who reside on the democratic and progressive side of the fence who believe that the awarding of the coveted prize to Obama came to quickly. Some question the timing and the validity of presenting him with such an award.
One can only imagine what the rest of the world is thinking. Last week, when the U.S. lost the bid for the 2016 Olympics, media personalities and people on the streets reveled in that loss. Today, as it was announced that President Obama would be the recipient of one of the greatest world-wide honors, the act was met with derision and denouncement.
From the Huffington Post we are told...
In its statement, the Committee said he had "created a new climate in international politics. ... Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future." It continued, "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." That is, in other words, a true commitment to democracy.
You see, the Nobel Peace Prize isn't always about honoring a lifetime of achievement. Recipients aren't always determined upon criteria that requires concrete accomplishments or measurable outcomes. Sometimes it's awarded for the setting of a tone, the promise of change, or leadership and role-modeling.
Those who are hemorraghing and squealing like stuck pigs seem to lack the ability to think either in the abstract or deal with the reality that apparently the rest of the world prefers diplomacy, values, and character to a cowboy hat, boots, and a big belt buckle. The rest of the world would prefer leaders who are committed to solutions and peace to those with the "you're either with us or against us" mentality.
This isn't about who has the biggest and the baddest bombs or who can shock and awe the rest of the world into submission. It's about who has the ability and the acumen to recognize that we are all sharing this planet and that we must learn how to do so together and to lead us in the direction of peace rather than bullying people into submission.
As Robert Creamer so aptly noted...
" The Nobel Committee gave the prize to Barack Obama because he gave the world hope that its most powerful, wealthy nation would once again provide humankind with inspiration and leadership that can be trusted and admired.
Since his election, President Obama has launched a worldwide campaign to eliminate all nuclear weapons - recognizing that controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a practical impossibility unless we work to eliminate them from the globe. He has rededicated America to cope with the massive threat of climate change. He has reset our relationship with the Muslim world. He has rededicated America to the world's international institutions. And, he has begun to use all of the tools available to our country - including diplomacy - to create a more just and peaceful planet.
All of this is just the beginning of a long journey. But at least we have once again begun that journey down the right road. In and of itself that has made America safer, restored our respect in the world, and has begun to build a foundation for peace in the world over the long term.
Americans may not fully appreciate how completely they changed our relations to the rest of the world when they voted to elect Barack Obama last November. The rest of the world does. We should consider Barack Obama's Nobel peace prize as a giant gesture of gratitude.
I see it that way.