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The Expansionist
Monday, October 19, 2009
Obama's Nobel. It has now been 10 days since President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The commentary, much of it critical, that I have heard has focused only on Obama's newness in office and his failure so far to have achieved anything on the international scene. No one seems to have recognized that Obama's singular accomplishment is that he broke — no smashed — the race barrier in the greatest power on Earth. That was not even mentioned in the news coverage on ABC World News, not even by the spokesman for the Nobel Committee. What's wrong with these people?
In recent years, the Nobel Peace Prize has almost never been awarded for actually promoting peace, much less bringing a peaceful resolution to an armed conflict. It has instead become the Nobel Nice Thing Prize, which praises tree-planting programs and efforts against (nonexistent) man-made global warming and extending credit to the poor. None of these things, nor work for women's rights nor healthcare in poor countries, has anything to do with international peace. The pretense that the award was made in recognition of Obama's change of rhetoric about international cooperation and nuclear nonproliferation is disingenuous at best. What he got the Prize for, and deserved it for, was shattering the glass ceiling on aspirations of "people of color" in the most important and influential country on the planet. This actually does have a bearing on domestic peace, in redirecting the energies of millions of "nonwhite" people, especially young people, from resentment and antisocial behavior into constructive channels.
Obama has proved beyond contention that the racists are no longer in control, and if young blacks (Hispanics, Asians, etc.) apply themselves to their studies, learn proper English, make plans, set goals, and work intelligently toward those goals, they can achieve great things. That's worth some prize. The Nobel Peace Prize may not be quite the right prize, but to the extent that it influences young blacks (etc.) to stay in school, stop resenting and attacking "whitey", and assume responsibility for themselves and their progeny, maybe it does deserve the Nobel.
Obama also made a serious, if not definitive, breakthru on campaign finance, diversifying the sources of funding to show that people running for major political office do NOT have to go, hat in hand, to the lobbyists and major corporations, and sell their soul for a campaign contribution. That, too, is worth some prize.
What Obama showed us, he showed the rest of the world in ... hm ... spades. All those hundreds of millions of blacks in Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil who were stunned by the triumph of a (half-)black man's becoming President of the United States, and who literally jumped for joy on seeing the news, are a force for good into the indefinite future. 'The United States has overcome the worst of its race problem. There is hope for the world, and our place in it.'
No matter how badly Obama screws up, in American politics there will be something to the expression, "Once you go black, you don't go back." We have broken the color barrier. We have erased race as the ultimate reservation to the few, the proud, the WASPs. We may not re-elect him. There may not be another successful black candidate for another generation, just as there has not been another Catholic President since Kennedy. But it's now possible, and knowing that it's possible invests blacks more in their country. They really can think, at the birth of a child, "My baby could grow up to be President of the United States. What a country!" Such a father, or mother, is not going to be a bombthrower, and not going to let their kid join a gang, drop out of school, or lie around the house wasting their life away. Obama's greatest value is that he has said to black parents, and to black kids, "No excuses!"
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,349 — for Israel.)

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