Ars Legendi: I know a laureate or two

Alan Duff

On Oct. 11, 2012, the Chinese author Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. It was an excellent decision on the Swedish Academy’s part, and a recognition that was long due. If this trend of recognizing authors that are long due the honor continues, I would like to officially submit the following statement for the Academy’s consideration: Cormac McCarthy 2013.


Unfortunately news of the award was eclipsed the next day when the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the surprise winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: the European Union. One of the most prestigious awards in the world, the European Union will now be up there with Nobel Laureates like Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Dalai Lama; and Yasser Arafat. This is an exceptionally disappointing decision on the part of the committee if one considers the current events in Europe, the committee’s reasoning and Alfred Nobel’s intent.


Turn on the news or read a newspaper, look past all of the Romney-Obama opinions and examine the current events in Europe, and the E.U,’s award will begin to seem nonsensical. According to the New York Times, Greece is becoming increasingly violent as protestors stand off against police and government officialswith every announcement about “austerity measures.” Crowds of protestors easily reach “35,000 to 45,000 people,” and resort to violence, in some cases firebombs.


According to “CNN,” on Oct. 9, when the German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a visit to Athens, a series of violent protests rocked the city, with the anger being directed towards Germany. Protests like this have flared up in other European countries, including Spain and Portugal. Clearly, the European Union in the last few years hasn’t been the shining example of tranquility and peace it would hope to be.


The Nobel Committee’s reasoning for the awarding the E.U. is that “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation…” and it goes on to say war now seems impossible between France and Germany, citing lasing peace after three past wars. This is a baffling, considering the European Union’s role in most of the events was impossible since it wasn’t formally established as a group until late 1993.


This is an awkward precedent to establish. Should NATO get an award for its part in preventing nuclear fallout during the Cold War in 2013? How about Germany for ensuring that Britain and the United States didn’t have another war in 1900? The Nobel Peace Prize should be used as a tool for recognizing contemporary achievements, not long lasting, hard to pin down causes of peace that are then attributed to only one organization.


Nobel’s will also seems clear to which parties the Peace Prize should be awarded: “one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” I guess, just like the Supreme Court decided in Citizens United that corporations are individuals, the committee decided that organizations are people, too. I find that disturbing.


The reason one should be adamantly apposed to organizations being rewarded the Noble Peace Prize is because they, unlike individuals, can have a sponsored mission of peace as a mission statement. I think that’s great, but when a group starts judging along those lines silly things could potentially happen like this: The 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for “over a century of awarding peace prizes for the purpose of spreading awareness and the cause of peace.”


I hope next year they give it someone who has earned it in a true causal sense. Until then, I’m going to count how many Nobel Laureates I’ve traveled through.