Nobel Prize isn’t a participation trophy

Staff Writer
Garden City Telegram
Davis Merritt

The latest sign of how far from reality and common understanding some Americans have retreated came last week when seven state governors urged the Nobel Committee to award Donald Trump the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

They joined 16 U.S. Representatives who, earlier this month, formally nominated the man who threatened to rain “fire and fury” with his “much bigger and more powerful” nuclear button on North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man.”

Recall that Alfred Nobel’s will established the prize to recognize people and organizations doing “the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

The depth of ignorance demonstrated by the letters overwhelms the natural reflex to laugh at the petitioners who, unfortunately if predictably, included the governor of Kansas, Jeff Colyer.

Trump has earned it, the Congressional letter claimed, because he enforced economic sanctions “that decimated (sic) the North Korean economy” and forced it “to the negotiating table.” No doubt exactly what Mother Teresa (1979 Nobel laureate) would have done.

The governors’ letter cited Trump’s “unprecedented victory for global peace and security” because of his “successful policy of security through strength” as he multiplies America’s nuclear arsenal. Not exactly what Woodrow Wilson (1919 laureate) intended to accomplish with the League of Nations.

The nominating letters did not, however, cite Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the climate change treaty (see Al Gore, 2007 laureate), his demand that other, poorer countries pay higher prices for medicines in order to ease U.S. prices (see Doctors Without Borders, 1999 laureates), or compare his narrow-minded America First policy with Alfred Nobel’s ideas of “fraternity between nations” (see Frank Kellogg, 1929; Cordell Hull, 1945; George C. Marshall, 1953, among many others).

Nor does the catalogue of insults, personal attacks, smears, lies and calculated divisiveness in Trump’s Twitter file summon the spirits of Martin Luther King (1964), Desmond Tutu (1984) or Nelson Mandela (1993). Those three used patience, humility and powerful but constructive language to bend the arc of history toward reconciliation while Trump’s personal and political ambitions here and abroad require the fuel of anger, resentment and hatred.

To place Donald Trump in the presence of those giants requires either freakish intellectual and moral contortions or complete denial of reality. And yet the letter signees, most of whom are up for reelection this year, obviously are betting that Trump’s core supporters will fall for the con once more and like them because they like Trump.

Even as the letters reached Stockholm, Trump’s prematurely declared “victory” over North Korea’s Kim Jong-un was cracking, the result of Trump’s foolish and self-aggrandizing Twitter diplomacy. He twice said things publicly that handed control to Kim and, as of this moment, Trump’s “unprecedented victory for global peace” is only a hope and a possibility, not an accomplishment.

The Nobel Peace Prize is not a participation trophy.

It’s not a trophy of any sort, in fact. It is recognition of service to all of humanity through a 117-year-old process designed to inspire future positive impacts on society by honoring such impacts as they occur.

The only hopeful sign in the chronology of the nominating letters is that only 16 House members out of 248 Republicans and seven Republican governors out of 33 signed them.

The Peace Prize is not supposed to be a political weapon or a productive asset.

Davis Merritt, Wichita journalist and author, may be reached at