The Arts and Culture

Lasha Darkmoon: Why Obama Won the Nobel Peace Prize and Hitler Didn’t

Lasha DarkmoonAsked why the Peace prize had been awarded to President Barack Obama, Nobel committee head Thorbjorn Jagland said: “It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve.” 

Obviously such a comment would make sense if we knew what Obama was trying to achieve. Even assuming that the President were trying to achieve something noble and uplifting for mankind  — an assumption it would be rash to make — why give a man a peace prize if all he does is make war?  

Mr Jagland then added somewhat enigmatically: “It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done.” 

How strange. What has Obama done exactly? I mean, what has he done that the Nobel committee are so enthused about that they wish to advocate it? Get more American soldiers killed in foreign parts? Increase the number of amputees in the armed forces? Order more torture?  Kill more Muslims? Expand old wars and start new ones? 

Mr Jagland does not explain. 

Perhaps there’s something in the air hanging over those Norwegian fjords that does something to the brainsof Nobel Committee members. In 1973 they gave the Peace Prize to one of the world’s most shameless warmongers: Dr Henry Kissinger. Taking note of his war crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the committee decided that here was a man who clearly needed to be commemorated for his unflinching efforts in pursuit of peace. A few years later, in 1994, they handed the peace prize to Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres at a time when the Israelis and Palestinians were, as ever, fighting like cats and dogs. 

The Nobel Peace Prize committee have obviously been influenced by the Orwellian mantra “War is Peace!” Anyone who starts a war, it seems,  automatically becomes a candidate for the Peace Prize. 

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When Obama collected his prize on December 10, you could almost sense his embarrassment. It’s as if he knew that satire had died yet again. He had the modesty to admit he had no idea why he’d been given this prize. He even pointed out that there were millions of worthier recipients. After all, he had just ordered 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan and had refused to consider a ban on land mines. Not exactly a peacenik. 

His spokesman Robert Gibbs, putting in a good word for this boss of his who had broken all his election promises, noted apologetically: “The president understands that he doesn’t belong in the same discussion as Mandela and Mother Teresa.” 

The understatement of the year. 

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A few weeks ago, I received an email from a man in Malaysia who asked me if I knew why Obama had been nominated for the Peace Prize. “Isn’t it strange?” he asked. I felt I owed him an explanation, since he was under the impression I was some kind of authority on world peace. So this is what I wrote back to him: 

Yes, it is indeed very strange, seeing that Obama has done nothing to deserve the Peace Prize apart from give a speech in Cairo which hinted at a solution to the long-standing Arab-Israeli problem. I can’t see how anyone can get a pat on the back for telling Israel to stop settlement activity when the Israelis ignore him anyway. Nor can he be given a peace prize for continuing the carnage in Iraq, expanding it in Afghanistan, and starting a new war in Pakistan which has already created over a million refugees. So the answer has to be this: having received the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama will now find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to start a war with Iran. 

The Norwegians may well have maneuvered Obama into a corner. How can a man who has just received the accolade of the world’s most prestigious peace prize give the order to launch an unprovoked attack on Iran in defiance of international law? The people who are crying for Iranian blood in America right now are the known neoconservative warmongers. How can Peace Prize Obama give ear to such warmongers? It won’t be easy. Nor will it be easy, if Israel launches an attack on Iran, to join Israel in pulverizing a helpless and innocent civilian population. Obama’s name would be mud.

Conclusion: give a man a peace prize when you want to stop him starting a new war.

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We shall have to see what happens next. Iran will be the litmus test. If Obama gives the order for an attack on Tehran, our worst suspicions will be confirmed. We shall then have to seriously ask why the Peace Prize wasn’t awarded posthumously to Adolf Hitler.

It’s amusing to note in this context that kookie Jewish-American lesbian litterateuse Gertrude Stein said in 1938: “I think Hitler ought to have the Nobel Peace Prize!”  And she did her best to persuade the Nobel Committee to honor the Nazi leader in this way.  

My Aunt Agatha thinks the reason Obama got the Peace Prize and Hitler didn’t has something to do with Hitler’s mustache. As far as the Norwegians were concerned, that dreadful mustache was a big no-no.  Obama, she says, labored under no such disadvantage.     

She could have a point.

Nora Ephron makes an obvious choice

I finally got around to watching Julie & Julia, directed by Nora Ephron who also wrote the screenplay. She is Jewish and a typical Hollywood liberal. She donated to Al Franken and Obama. Here’s an example of her prose (titled “White Men” from the liberal (and very mainstream) website Huffington Post, written just before the Pennsylvania primary in 2008:

This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can’t even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder — after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn’t believe any of those articles.)

White men are nothing more than haters. Not even Bill Kristol is liberal enough for her.

Julie & Julia is basically about two women becoming famous cooks 50 years apart. But Ephron can’t resist an opportunity for a little propagandizing. The movie has a brief cameo appearance of Julia’s father, John McWilliams. The following is from a biography of Child:

Pasadena, where she was born in 1912, was a handsome city, known for its wealth and civic accomplishments; John McWilliams was a living symbol of the city’s prosperity. A Princeton graduate and devout Republican, he managed the Western landholdings and investments amassed by his own father and later became vice president of J. G. Boswell, one of California’s major landowners and developers. His personal and professional mission was to keep California booming, and he put a great deal of time into Pasadena community life. Julia was raised to admire his discipline and public spirit, which she did, but he also nurtured a set of rabidly right-wing convictions that she would come to abhor. The two of them split sharply during the 1950s, when John McWilliams became a strong supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy whom Julia found despicable. Her father was also outspoken about his contempt for Jews, artists, intellectuals, and foreigners; and for most of her adult life Julia viewed him with enormous dismay, though she managed to keep loving him.

In fact, McWilliams’ anti-Jewish views were well enough known that he was mentioned, along with well-known figures such as Gerald L. K. Smith and Methodist preacher Wesley Swift, as anti-Jewish supporters of McCarthy in Aviva Weingarten’s Jewish Organizations’ Response to Communism and Senator McCarthy (see my review here).

In Julie & Julia, McWilliams is presented as a cranky supporter of McCarthy who dislikes Julia’s husband Paul, a political liberal who had lived in Paris as a poet and artist — everything that McWilliams detested. In the movie, Paul is working as a librarian in the Foreign Service when he is called to Washington where he is grilled about possible communist associations and on his sexual orientation. Julia states that she knows many people who have been persecuted by McCarthy even though they have done nothing wrong. Paul returns to France dispirited by his experience.

The movie seems to be a reasonably accurate portrayal of McWilliams — a portrayal tailor made to hammer home one of Hollywood’s favority moral lessons about the evil 1950s.

However, Ephron could have taken another tack altogether. Although Julia renounced her father’s views on McCarthy, her views on homosexuality would certainly exclude her from the culture of the mainstream media today.

Homophobia was a socially acceptable form of bigotry in midcentury America, and Julia and Paul participated without shame for many years. She often used the term pedal or pedalo — French slang for a homosexual — draping it with condescension, pity, and disapproval. “I had my hair permanented at E. Arden’s, using the same pedalo I had before (I wish all the men in OUR profession in the USA were not pedals!),” she wrote to Simca. Fashion designers were “that little bunch of Pansies,” a cooking school was “a nest of homovipers,” a Boston dinner party was “peopled by 3 fags in an expensive house…. We felt hopelessly square and left when decently possible,” and San Francisco was beautiful but full of pedals—“It appears that SF is their favorite city! I’m tired of them, talented though they are.”

So Ephron had a choice if she wanted to bring up politically volatile issues. She could have played up the angle of Julia’s father as a cranky right-wing supporter of Sen. McCarthy, or she could have played up the angle of the Childs as homophobes.

But this was a feel-good movie, so it was a no-brainer. For Ephron, part of the feel-good message is to portray Julia’s character as an enlightened liberal, just like herself — and at the same time get in yet another dig at the retrogrades who supported McCarthy while avoiding any mention of McWilliams’ civic contributions or Julia’s homophobia.

Despite the fact that McCarthy was basically right about the people he hauled before his committee (see M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies), the cause of anti-McCarthyism remains a rallying cry for the Nora Ephrons of the world — at least partly because, as Weingarten shows, so many of them were Jews.

My only surprise is that we weren’t treated to a caricature of McWilliams’s anti-Jewish attitudes.

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