Since the Nobel Committee announced on Friday that it would award the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, the far right has been apoplectic. They have criticized the Nobel Committee, Obama himself, the United States and anyone or anything else who dares to fall within the penumbra of their vitriol and bigotry.
Rush Limbaugh: "I think that everybody is laughing... our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn't deserve the award. Now that's hilarious, that I'm on the same side of something that the Taliban ..."
Glenn Beck: "Let me give you my rundown on this Obama Nobel Prize. First of all, he has to turn it down -- because it is such a joke... only his arrogance will stop him from doing it ... his arrogance is so incredible."
Bill Kristol: "It's not clear to me (that the Nobel Committee) speaks for the world. It speaks for five Norwegians... This is an anti-American committee."
RNC chairman Michael Steele: "The real question Americans are asking is, "What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights ..."
Not all people on the right have shown so little class. Some few Republicans have responded more graciously, as they should have:
Sen. John McCain: "... as Americans, we're proud when our president receives an award of that prestigious category."
But in the main, those on the Republican far-right have at last shown themselves for what they are: classless, thoughtless, unpatriotic, boorish bigmouths.
Bill Kristol is right (the only time in my life I expect ever to type that sentence): the Nobel Peace Prize is indeed decided by five Norwegians -- four of them women, yet -- and awarded on behalf of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. The Norwegian Nobel Institute is a private foundation, accountable only to itself.
The Nobel Institute gives the Peace Prize annually to whoever, in the sole and unfettered discretion of those five Norwegians, best carries forth the spirit of Alfred Nobel's Last Will and Testament: to recognize the person or organization that "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Imagine that, from the man who invented dynamite. Nobel wanted to be remembered for promoting peace, not for blowing things up and killing people. What more proof does the far right need that poor Al Nobel must have gone completely insane?
Notwithstanding the far right's opinion, it is the Norwegian Nobel Institute's perfect right to make such an award. In so doing, the Institute is doing nothing more than exercising its own right of free speech -- a right, it seems, that right-wing extremists in the US would reserve for only themselves.
All of this leaves the wingnut right with just one time-honored option: if you don't like the way the Norwegian Nobel Institute makes its decisions, then make your own decisions and awards.
That's right: do it yourself. You -- Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Will, Kristol, Malkin, and all the rest of your ilk -- you establish your own competing prize.
You endow that foundation with the capital to make annual awards of at least $1.4 million in whatever categories and according to whatever criteria you consider important in a 21st century world. About $200 million should get you started with five annual prizes of $1.5 million each.
You hire the staff that will handle inquiries and process nominations. You meet the payroll and pay the rent. You select the Board members who will make the decisions. You announce the awards.
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