Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2010

The Deafening Silence: Nobel Peace Prize Awarded (Update: Moving Video Via Hot Air)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:44 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Update: Hot Air has a powerful video on the presentation today.

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was given to an empty suit, harming the prestige of the award.  This year represents a bit of a redemption, as they awarded it to an empty chair.

Jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s absence was marked with an empty chair at the ceremony to award his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on Friday.

This marks the second time in its more than 100-year history that neither the recipient or any representative was unable to collect the prestigious prize.

The last time was 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky — who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp — from claiming the award.

Three others — cold War dissidents Andrei Sakharov and Lech Walesa, as well as Burma democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi — had their prizes accepted by family members.

Because Xiaobo could not attend, his gold medal, Nobel diploma and cash prize were not handed out. Instead, Norwegian Nobel Committee officials say they hope to give them to the jailed laureate at a later date.

In his comments at Oslo’s City Hall, Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said the decision should not be seen as “a prize against China,” as he urged officials in Beijing to “become used to being debated and criticized.”

As the NYT notes, Mr. Liu’s family was being prevented from leaving the country, as well as the winner himself.  And on a tangential note, you know those crazy Taiwanese animators?  Well, they created a serious video about Liu, which you can view here.  I mean, there is literally nothing funny about this video at all and it’s not trying to be funny.  Watching it, you can almost feel the pain of the Taiwanese.  They consider themselves, after all, as Chinese as the mainlanders.  So in a real way, Taiwan is like a colony of escaped slaves circa 1850 or so, looking to see millions of their brothers and sisters in bondage and knowing they can do little to help.

But while this year’s award is a significant improvement over giving the prize to Obama for merely becoming president, or to Al Gore for making up a pack of lies about the environment (because somehow scaring everyone about the environment and demonizing modern, industrialized countries will automatically lead to peace breaking out), this appears to be a righteous choice.  This is more in line with what we think of when we think of an appropriate recipient of a peace prize, such a Martin Luther King, Jr.  I have long argued that the fact Dr. King was awarded this prize did more to help the reputation of the prize than the prize did to help Dr. King’s reputation.

But at the same time, is peace really the answer, here?  Even Dr. King recognized that there were times when non-violence just didn’t work:

Martin Luther King Jr. once said of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred World War II pastor, “if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer.”

Bonhoeffer, of course, was one of many people who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  And like Abraham Lincoln, I see all issues of politics, global or local, through the words of the Declaration of Independence.  All persons are created equal, including the Chinese.  They are equally entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the only legitimate government is one that rules by consent of the people and honors those rights.  Our rebellion against England was well-justified, but our grievances against England at that time pale in comparison to the grievances of the Chinese people against their oppressors.  And Tiananmen Square proved that their opponent does not have a conscience.  In fact, only a handful in the army showed any conscience at all that day:

A person like the famous “Tank man” lacks nothing in courage.  But he needs more than the courage to face death; he needs the willingness to fight for the freedom of himself and others.  The Chinese need a revolution, in favor of representative democracy.

Update: This is nitpicky, but if you look at the gold square lettering, it spells out LXB, obviously for Liu Xiaobo.  Which is all well and fine, but that isn’t really how his name is written.  That is the transliteration from Chinese.  So if we want to be culturally sensitive, and perhaps send a message to the Chinese people, shouldn’t it just be the Chinese characters, whatever they are?  You would probably be able to write his entire name in almost the same amount of space.

Update II: In the comments Dmac mentions another disgrace in the Nobel’s past: Arafat.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

31 Responses to “The Deafening Silence: Nobel Peace Prize Awarded (Update: Moving Video Via Hot Air)”

  1. While Ghandi had many worthwhile ideas and goals, some of his notions were truly repellent. For example, he advised the rest of the world to basically lay down their arms and allow Hitler to take over the world. His later prevarications regarding the division of India and Pakistan lead to hundreds of thousands of mass killings on both sides.

    Dmac (498ece)

  2. Forgot to add that this year’s award does not in any way, shape or form excuse the Nobel committee from their heinous actions in the past, beginning with Arafat’s nomination.

    Dmac (498ece)

  3. dmac

    Totally forgot about Arafathead. Which is a big omission on my part.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  4. Oh, the humility. The prez on LXB;

    One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.

    He does redeem himself a bit with that last line but jeez. It’s like he’s always last to realize things.

    Chris (6b0332)

  5. Chris,

    i actually find that reasonable. yes, he takes it as a chance to talk about himself, but he is talking about the elephant in the room, there, which is that Liu should have been the winner last year. i mean he kind of had to say something about it, and what he said was pretty defensible.

    I agree that obama is a narcissist, but this isn’t good evidence of it.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  6. Comment by Chris — 12/10/2010 @ 8:05 am

    But wait, in case you thought he was done talking about himself:

    I regret that Mr. Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year.

    Why, it’s like he’s constitutionally incapable of giving honor and attention to someone else without spotlighting himself as well.

    no one you know (325a59)

  7. I agree that obama is a narcissist, but this isn’t good evidence of it

    I’m not so sure. first off, just count the I-me-mys in anything the guy says. Not saying you are wrong about this instance. It just seems odd to be constantly self-referential.

    Chris (6b0332)

  8. NOYK

    I take back my comment at #5. i read Obama’s risable statement. What a jerk.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  9. I am surprised Teh One could even say the word humble without laughing.

    JD (688ec2)

  10. I regret that he was unable to come witness my awesomeness last year. Give me a effing break. Me me me I me my i my me me my I mine me my I i i i

    JD (688ec2)

  11. Totally forgot about Arafathead. Which is a big omission on my part.

    Not really, when you consider that the MFM gave that award endless play for years, while studiously ignoring his murderous past and refusal to even recognize the state of Israel. Not to mention he kept his own private brothel of young boys, as well as looted his own treasury and hid it in Swiss banks. His wife still enjoys her life of ultra – luxury in Paris today.

    Dmac (498ece)

  12. There is some precedent here. In 2009, they gave the prize to an empty suit.

    Bugg (9e308e)

  13. Why, it’s like he’s constitutionally incapable of giving honor and attention to someone else without spotlighting himself as well.

    Comment by no one you know

    What a classy guy.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  14. The empty chair was more deserving than the empty suit.

    the wolf (7cffb6)

  15. I agree with Chris’ original post that some perspective of truth and humility is evident in his honoring of Mr. Liu,
    but noyk’s observation is brilliant and all telling.*

    I hadn’t heard of that King quote until recently (from here, I’m pretty sure), and I think it is a brilliant observation.

    * It was a similar comment by Al Gore (though his was even untrue) that immediately convinced me he was a pathological liar and could not be trusted with any responsibility.

    MD in Philly (cac12c)

  16. “is peace really the answer, here?”

    Excellent point.

    The biggest threat to peace is tyranny, always. The prize should not go to those who speak stirring words about “peace”, but those who work to root out tyranny.

    DJMoore (dfc510)

  17. Married into a Taiwanese family, I can assure that not all Taiwanese would agree with this statement:
    “[Taiwanese] consider themselves, after all, as Chinese as the mainlanders. So in a real way, Taiwan is like a colony of escaped slaves circa 1850 or so, looking to see millions of their brothers and sisters in bondage and knowing they can do little to help.”
    Many Taiwanese, especially those in residence pre-WWII, consider themselves Taiwanese – a mixture of Chinese immigrants and native Taiwanese aborigines.

    Hank Archer (17792e)

  18. So sad there is no Nobel Prize for War. The US would win more often, and W would’ve won eight years in a row.

    NoamFan (0692b1)

  19. NoamFan

    Who should have won the peace prize in 1938?

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  20. _______________________________________

    It just seems odd to be constantly self-referential.

    An indication of how the guy is truly full of himself, I’m sure over the past few years he’s heard or read all the comments about his being narcissistic, not to mention very arrogant. But just as his being probably fully aware of the slams aimed at him when he bowed before the king of Saudi Arabia did not prevent him from doing the same thing all over again awhile later in Japan, he continues to give speeches that emphasize “I” and “me.” IOW, the epitome of a narcissist.

    Mark (3e3a7c)

  21. NoamFan eats its own boogers, and thinks algore and Teh One deserved their Nobels.

    JD (0d2ffc)

  22. The US would win more often, and W would’ve won eight years in a row

    And the rest of the democratic world breathes a sigh of relief that we’re just that good. Oh wait, I was told that they didn’t actually, that they wanted a person who didn’t talk and act tough and kowtowed to petty dictators and tyrants, just like them. So they got one, yet now they’re much angrier than before? Care to venture a guess as to why?

    Dmac (498ece)

  23. Bringing the free market and trade to China was supposed to open the gates for Democracy (and maybe it still will eventually) but China has shown that a well connected elite can take the Capitalism and skip the Democracy. Maybe as China’s middle class grows there will be more pressures to Democratize.

    Perhaps we can learn from China too. Maybe as the power and influence of our financial elites grows they will decide to do things the Chinese way. Maybe with more subtlety, via lobbyists, and congressional and presidential puppets (like the current Prez. puppet) but ending up at a similar place, just not so well off economically.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  24. Obama was robbed!

    Jeff (763943)

  25. Obama should have been there, and given a speech critical of the Chinese. But of course, he cannot, them holding the mortgage and all.

    Kevin M (298030)

  26. We can only hope that the new generation of young people in China who are now learning to think for themselves economically will also think for themselves politically and that they will find an ultimate solution to the issue of human rights.

    Heather (af7dc7)

  27. Despite the political rhetoric from the western world in recent years about China opening up and becoming more capitalist, democratic, etc. — it is important to remember that the Communist Party is still in very firm control over the country, and has no inclination whatsoever to give up that power any time soon. Also, unlike Soviet-era Communism, the Party in China has tried to rebrand itself as a party of status, connections, and to some extent, coolness. It is allowing entrepreneurs to succeed and become rich (nothing happens without the Party’s implicit “blessing”) in order to show the world “see — our system can produce millionaires and prosperity too!” Do not trust China’s political intentions or agenda on anything as long as the Communists run the country. They are charlatans and will happily help the rest of the world dig its own economic/political grave through “investments” in China. You are just feeding the beast that wants to kill you. I think the Nobel committee made a great choice this time, unlike the farce of last year.

    Mark Turner (6f4da3)

  28. One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize–an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.

    Our president presumes so much about himself. I am still trying to figure out exactly what made him deserving of this honor. Does he consider himself a giant of history, a courageous advocate who has sacrificed for freedom and justice, or both? His lack of self-awareness is never not surprising.

    Taranto at WSJ absolutely nails it,

    Better an empty chair than an empty suit.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  29. Wasn’t part of the speech given by the peace prize awarder, a thank you to, and praise of, China for all the wonderful things it has done for its people. And didn’t the UN just award a medal and ceremony to the chinese general that ordered the tanks to mow down the protestors in tianneman square? You really think, given those two examples, that either of these organizations is not 100 percent morally corrupt?

    J (2946f2)

  30. J- Maybe those big political and prestige organizations are morally corrupt or maybe they are still trying to bring China into the Capitalism AND Democracy movie. Who knows if they will succeed. It may take a long time. In the meantime criticism of China’s civil rights record should continue.

    EdWood (501c59)

  31. the Taiwanese… consider themselves, after all, as Chinese as the mainlanders.

    Not all of them. There is a deep ethnic division in Taiwan between the pre-1949 population and the mainlanders who arrived with Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT (about 1.5M at the time).

    The Chinese Empire didn’t take over Taiwan until about 1700,w which is practically yesterday in that part of the world. From 1898 to 1945 it was ruled by Japan (with the complicity of Taiwan’s upper class, many of whom served in the Japanese military).

    Taiwanese culture is distinct in many ways. For instance, they play baseball (which mainlanders view as Japanese and therefore evil).

    When Chiang moved in, he seized land from the local upper class and distributed it to the local peasants. (The Taiwanese landholders weren’t his supporters, and mainlanders saw them as de facto traitors.) The peasants liked it, but descendants of those landholders are still around, and many still hold a grudge.

    Chiang and the KMT ruled Taiwan for decades without any sort of elections – with 98% of China under “rebel control”, it was impossible to elect a new government of China, so Chiang just kept going. Any dissent by Taiwanese was suppressed by force; there are grudges about that.

    This difference and sentiment comes out in various ways, including the belief that Taiwan really isn’t part of China and should declare itself an independent state. (The present “Republic of China” still nominally claims to rule the whole country.)

    It’s not clear what proportion of the population would support that position, but it’s on the order of 25%, though almost certainly less than half.

    Rich Rostrom (f7aeae)


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