Thursday, October 18, 2007

opinions always get me

The University newspaper put out a really good issue this week. I was especially fond of the opinion section. The opinion columnists sometimes have a tendency to say really inflammatory things (you'll see what I mean), but I felt like this week they did an awesome job of defending their positions. Here's David Lueth's column (reproduced without permission... don't kill me)

Abolish the Nobel Peace Prize

Al Gore just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Since irony already died when Henry Kissinger won the award in 1973, I'm not quite sure how to respond to this bit of news. Sure, it's a bit of a joke in the first place, considering that previous nominees included Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin - twice.

But to award it to some rich guy who was once elected president, only to decline to hold on to his position when an interloper snatched it away, and later made a movie telling us all-surprise!- that pollution is bad? How absurd, particularly when the monks in Myanmar are far more deserving and whose receipt of the award would do much more good. But that won't do. We need celebrities. Will Leonardo DeCaprio win it this year? Stay tuned to find out!

Perhaps the most troubling part of Gore winning the Nobel is not so much that he won, but what effect the very existance of the prize has on society in general. What do we learn from seeing this wealthy guy who made a movie get an award with 10 million Swedish Kronors (about $1.5 million)attached?

I imagine the "Draft Gore" movement will swell. When I first heard about "Draft Gore," I thought it was a wonderful idea to finally try to get politicians to serve on the front lines alongside the soldiers these politicians so readily send to their fates. How disappointing to find out that those behind the "Draft Gore" movement are only trying to get Gore to run for president. Yet there are far too many people lining up behind Al Gore like the Pied Piper of Hamline to their doom for me to dismiss.

and what does Gore's receipt of the Nobel tell them? It validates them; it tells them to go on worshipping Al Gore like a plywood cutout of a savior-figure.

There are legions of Gore-worshippers out there pleading with him to run for president so he can save the planet. If saving the planet is so important, it seems to me like the best thing these idolatrous legions could do is actually go out and work to make meaningful change, instead of begging Al Gore to do it for them.

Of course, this is nothing unique to Al Gore. Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani and all the rest have their followers who pin their hopes for change on some wealthy person sitting in an office in Washington, D.C. surrounded by other wealthy people and lobbyists who tell hem we need more contracts for nuclear weapons so the missile factory in their legislative district back home can keep the loyal voters employed.

So we go out every four years (two if we're feeling outraged or ambitious) and consent to having person A rule over us instead of person B. If that doesn't turn out so well, in another four years we go and consent to person C ruling over us and then we all go back to our homes and watch more TV.

We should abolish the Nobel Peace Prize for its legacy of telling us that change happens when a few famous people make a movie or sign an accord. In its place we should recognize that the only way that change happens is when ordinary people work together to accomplish it. Noam Chomsky recognized this when he said, "There has not in history ever been any answer other than, get to work on it already." Let's follow that advice instead of spending our time and energy convincing Al Gore to rule over us for four years.

chew on that for a while.

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