Linus Pauling, who is the only person to win two undivided Nobel Prizes, won one in Chemistry in 1954 for his work applying quantum mechanics to chemistry, and eight years later one in Peace for his work against above-ground nuclear testing. In his spare time Pauling also worked towards developing the electrical car. While most people of our parents’ generation remember Pauling as the guy who wanted you to take vitamin C, Pauling is regarded as one of the outstanding scientists of all time.
Back in the olden days people like Albert Schweitzer, who was a medical doctor, a concert organist and a great humanitarian, won Nobel Peace Prizes. Schweitzer was also a theologian and a philosopher who believed that Western civilization was in decline for having abandoned the affirmation of life as its ethical foundation. He lived by his beliefs and spent most of his life working as a doctor in what is now Gabon, Africa.
Now you get a Nobel Prize for making a movie about yourself.
Al Gore, who the Nobel Prize announcer called Albert Arnold Algore Jr., made a movie that British courts found partisan, ruling last week that it contains no fewer than eleven material inaccuracies that need to be drawn to students’ attention if it is going to be shown in schools. That’s the movie the Nobel Prize Committee praises as an effort “to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change”.
Gore, unlike Schweitzer, is not depriving himself of the pleasures of a home that consumes electricity at a rate of about 12 times that of a typical house in Nashville. Gore also favors private jets instead of public airlines when he travels.
The Committee says that climate change (what ever happened to global warming?) might lead to wars and violent conflicts, hence the Prize. Those involved in the fight of their lives, the fight for liberty and democracy while oppressed by dictatorships, like the Buddhist monks in Burma, or the Ladies in White in Cuba, better come up with their own movies or they’ll get no prize at all.
I have referred to the Peace Prize as the Norwegian Badge of Uselessness, as we look at the awardees:
1988: The UN Peacekeeping forces, who have distinguished themselves after receiving their prize by their rapes and sex abuse, along with bribery and corruption, in places like Kosovo, Angola, Guinea and Congo.
1992: Rigoberta Menchu Tum, who lied about her life in Guatemala.
1994: Yasser Arafat, the inventor of skyjackings and father of modern terrorism.
2001: The UN and Kofi Annan, perpetrators of the largest scam in the history of mankind, the $30 billion dollar Oil-For-Food scandal.
2002: Jimmy Carter, who goes around the world certifying the elections as “open and democratic”, after spending less than twenty-four hours in country.
2004: Wangari Maatai, who preaches that AIDS is a virus created by Da Man.
2005: The International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed el-Baradei, who have yet to stop North Korea or anyone else from developing nuclear weapons.
I’m not even counting Betty Williams (1976) who earlier this year said she could kill George Bush, or Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) who embraced peace after losing the Cold War, and let’s not forget Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho (1973) for that “peace with honor” bit.
Small wonder that the Venezuelan government news agency wants us to believe that Hugo Chavez was a finalist for the prize in 2005. Hugo’s certainly buying enough weapons and making deals with Russia and Iran to earn himself a Prize down the line.
This year Al Gore won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Nobel Peace Prize. At this rate he may run for president again, or instead he may star on a one-man show on Broadway featuring the world’s most famous Powerpoint presentation. If he wins a Tony award for that, he’ll then outdo Rita Moreno, who hasn’t won a Nobel Peace Prize yet.
And here are the ones who didn’t win:
The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe.
Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping the pro-democracy group Block 8406.
Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women’s Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country.
Or to Colombian President Àlvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country.
Or to Garry Kasparov and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin’s slide toward authoritarian rule.
Or to the people of Iraq, who bravely work to rebuild and reunite their country amid constant threats to themselves and their families from terrorists who deliberately target civilians.
Or to Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili who, despite the efforts of the Kremlin to undermine their young states, stayed true to the spirit of the peaceful “color” revolutions they led in Ukraine and Georgia and showed that democracy can put down deep roots in Russia’s backyard.
Or to Britain’s Tony Blair, Ireland’s Bertie Ahern and the voters of Northern Ireland, who in March were able to set aside decades of hatred to establish joint Catholic-Protestant rule in Northern Ireland.
Or to thousands of Chinese bloggers who run the risk of arrest by trying to bring uncensored information to their countrymen.
Or to scholar and activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, jailed presidential candidate Ayman Nour and other democracy campaigners in Egypt.
Or, posthumously, to lawmakers Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Rafik Hariri, George Hawi and Gibran Tueni; journalist Samir Kassir; and other Lebanese citizens who’ve been assassinated since 2005 for their efforts to free their country from Syrian control.
Or to the Reverend Phillip Buck; Pastor Chun Ki Won and his organization, Durihana; Tim Peters and his Helping Hands Korea; and Liberty in North Korea, who help North Korean refugees escape to safety in free nations.
But leave it to Paul Krugman who is (finally!, after being freed from the Times Select premium) getting some mileage out of being ridiculous,
What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?
What, indeed, Paul, why don’t you tell us?
Which brings us to the biggest reason the right hates Mr. Gore: in his case the smear campaign has failed. He’s taken everything they could throw at him, and emerged more respected, and more credible, than ever. And it drives them crazy.
That must be it! Of course!
And how can Paul be wrong, when he knows that the French got it right when it comes to healthcare?
For a Nobel Peace Prize, Paul’s going to make himself a Powerpoint presentation and a movie.