As you’ve probably heard, Barack Obama will be receiving this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. What has he done to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, one might ask? (Fox News certainly asked, and in doing so they put together an uncharacteristically informative little piece).
The consensus seems to be that the Nobel Committee’s choice has more to do with what Obama might do in the next few years than with what he has done so far. This is an odd concept. After all, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t give Oscars to promising films that are still in production.
So it’s hard to shake the feeling that Barack Obama is getting a Nobel Peace Prize primarily for being the first black President of the United States. This, too, is an odd concept. Yes, the fact that we have a black president is an accomplishment. But it might not be exclusively, or even primarily, Obama’s accomplishment. As Chris Rock said in a recent interview, just before the Nobel Prize announcement:
Black people have been qualified to be president for hundreds of years. George Washington Carver could have been president. I could go on with a list of black men that were qualified to be the president of the United States. So the Obama victory is progress for white people.
Which is not to say that White America should be getting the Nobel Peace Prize this year, either.