President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, and since his surprising win, critics have not ceased complaining. Conservatives and liberals alike questioned the validity of Obama’s award. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and even Saturday Night Live (SNL) focused on the premature and perhaps, undeserving, nature of the prize.
The Nobel committee defended its decision with the claim that Obama won “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Frankly—I’m ready to bury the issue. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, and as upset as the public may be, the world is just going to have to deal–it’s over.
Ok, fine. So self-righteous Europeans finally gave America some positive recognition (god forbid!) but seriously—let’s move on! Instead of the media centering on whether or not Obama should have received the prize, it should have focused on the other winners. The constant coverage of Obama has commandeered the attention the other prize-winners deserve.
Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Prize in 1885, by request of his last will. Since 1901, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, has awarded the prize for achievements in chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences to honor the memory of Nobel.
The 2009 winners though, have been overshadowed by Obama. Consider Elinor Ostrom, an American, and the first woman to win the prize in Economics, has received little, if any, media coverage. Such a prestigious award should be celebrated, not ignored. Noting Ostrom’s victory, and dedicating time to analyzing how to repeat such an achievement, would be far more constructive than scrutinizing our president.
What ails me the most, though, is the comment by Horace Engdhal, permanent secretary of the Nobel academy, which pronounced American literature as “too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture”.
“The US is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining.”
Yet again, the U.S. should have dedicated its energy to improvement, but instead chose to dwell in political squabble.
Despite the outrage over Obama’s win, it cannot be reversed. There is something, however, that can be done about Engdhals’s claim. Americans should shift their concern from the controversy over current awards to what can be done to win future awards. If the country comes together, the very least we can do is show Europe we’re not a bunch of incapable country bumpkins—and I don’t think anyone would complain about that.