A good friend, (who I really like as a person and have always enjoyed his company and thoughts), has always had a real problem with Obama, from way back when he started as a candidate, and lately he has admitted that there is a racial component to how he feels. How much of what he thinks about Obama is racial, and how much is simple disagreement is hard to tell, since a prejudice by definition influences rational and objective thought, so you have to wonder if there is ANY rational basis to objections when there is prejudice present, but I always try to give him the benefit of the doubt when he raises specific points……
But he has REALLY gotten into a lather about Obama getting the Nobel peace prize, and after he sent another email that was frankly pretty clearly a bit silly and childish, I decided to look into what actually happened with the award, why they did it, and what I felt about it, so that I could respond in a meaningful way to my friend’s anger and outrage about the award, and Obama in general to some degree.
So here’s what he wrote to me (a bit out of context I admit, but you’ll get the general point), followed by my response, including some reference links.
ME: But remember, it’s not HIS fault it happened, he didn’t choose it. People that dog him for it aren’t thinking clearly, the choice is not for him to make. And I think people are behaving brutally stupid about it, the first feeling they should have, even if justifiably confused about it, is that they should be proud, and NOT do what the right is doing, which is to senselessly attack him for something that’s outside of his control. That part of this is shameful…..and it literally makes me feel bad about what’s happening in this country because of a few self-interested and callous scum who get airtime….
FRIEND: i think he’s a damned idiot (as you know) anyway
but if i were him i would just flat out refuse to accept it, since
he didnt do anything at all to deserve it and he damn well knows it
it’s jsut a further coronation of him for doing nothing
also it jsut turns the nobel peace prize into a piece of toilet paper
which these stupid norwegian liberals are handing out since they’re so overjoyed that bakwardes america finally got a black president
So here’s my response –
Well, to call him a damn idiot is obviously idiotic, and while I can understand a negative knee-jerk reaction to the award, reading the ACTUAL STATEMENT from the Nobel people can be enlightening and explains a lot. Please attempt to actually read it before you slag it or him, at least in the context of the award anyway……
And again remember, THEY are the people that decide what agenda they want to push forward, NOT Obama.
And here’s a reasonable response to the right-wing teeth-gritting and hand-wringing – http://www.salon.com/opinion/walsh/politics/2009/10/10/obama_nobel_prize/index.html?source=rss&aim=/opinion/walsh/politics –
These are both reasonable statements to make, ESPECIALLY in the light of this statement from the Nobel people –
“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”
“For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.””
These are reasonable and even lofty, idealistic goals and purposes, which SHOULD be encouraged. We’ve done nothing for the last 8 years but allowed ourselves to be driven down into ugliness and insanity as a national stance, taking the rest of the world down with us. The level of the global agenda SHOULD be lofty and idealistic, I would argue that it’s the best kind of dialogue for world’s governments to have in the global context, and this kind of movement MUST be encouraged.
Taking note of their own direct statements that this is their intent, I can support the award, since it is VERY clear that the change Obama and his international stance has brought mostly DO reflect those ideals, and the changes they mention as a result are indeed true.
This anger towards Obama is misdirected, and in my view reflects a powerful need by a group of people in this country to vilify by any means available a person of color that does not fit the idea “people of prejudice” have of him and his race. And to the extent that many people are prejudiced, it needs to remain personal, and not be dragged into the public discourse. It’s a base and shallow response with ugly roots, and cannot be given any value in any context, no matter how peripherally it is applied, and no matter what illusions are used to disguise it.
And yes, I DO think that “people of prejudice” are not looking at this thing for what it IS, they are instead turning it into another outlet for their racist rage, without bothering to actually understand what has actually been done here. For me, that makes them “people of willful ignorance”, and I have a bias against that.
P.S. – What do you think, is it a good award or not?