IT’S AWARD SEASON! And it’s a very controversial one!
But I’m not talking about the white-washed Oscars. This past Wednesday, The Nobel Peace Prize attracted attention for an outrageous nomination, causing many to question the integrity of the nominations process.
Yes, Donald Trump is among the ranks of Colombian peace negotiator President Juan Manuel, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Syrian refugee volunteers in the Greek Islands.
Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize are reserved for those who have not just dedicated themselves to their cause, but made personal sacrifices for the greater good, often risking their reputations and sometimes even their safety to bring “fraternity between nations” and peace to the world. Donald Trump, anti-Muslim, pro-gun fanatic and Republican rant machine, is an unlikely candidate, but it’s not the first time a mayhem-causing buffoon stumbled into a nomination. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, anyone familiar with the process who can give a convincing enough argument, can pretty much nominate whoever they want. Just look at this list of other absurd nominations throughout history.
Misinformed sexist right-winger, Rush Limbaugh, was nominated for the award in 2007. He was deemed fitting by the committee because he “uses his show to become the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world today.” Seems like a bold claim considering all Rush Limbaugh did on his show during that time was talk about how Iraqi War veterans were “phony soldiers” and how Michael J. Fox exaggerated his Parkinson’s disease to advocate funding for stem cell research. But it was a vicious defeat when this global warming denier lost to Al Gore and his Oscar-winning PowerPoint presentation on climate change.
The same year Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini was invading Ethiopia and placing three quarters of Italian businesses under state control, he was nominated for the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize. He received not one letter of recommendation, but two: one from a law professor in Germany, and the other from a professor in France. Mysteriously, those letters cannot be found in the Nobel Institute archives, so we’ll never know the exact reason why two professors deemed him worthy of such an award. Mussolini was not considered in the shortlist, but there was so much disagreement within the committee that the prize was not awarded that year. I guess if Mussolini can’t have it, then no one can.
Former Soviet Union leader, Josef Stalin, was nominated twice: in 1945 and 1948. Apparently it was for his efforts in ending World War II. But leading a violent siege of Berlin, causing 65,000 deaths, executing over 25,000 Polish POWs, orchestrating a political campaign later referred to as “The Great Terror,” and leading troops to rape women along the way, does not end wars: it perpetuates them.
Josef Stalin wasn’t the only World War II bad boy to snag a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. In 1939, Adolf Hitler was nominated by a member of the Swedish parliament, E.G.C. Brandt. But Brandt didn’t do it seriously. He intended it to be a satiric criticism to point out the flaws of foreign policies of the day, particularly the Munich Pact in 1938, which allowed Nazi Germany to take over parts of Czechoslovakia. No one got the joke, and the nomination was withdrawn, but not withdrawn from history.
Self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist Socialist, Fidel Castro, got a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2001. But what was more shocking was the reason his supporter, Norwegian parliament member, Hallgeir Langeland, nominated him. Regardless of Castro’s past crimes against humanity, Langeland defended his nomination arguing “what do you prefer? The right to vote, or easy access to schools, health care, housing and food, as in the case in Cuba.” There are plenty of countries where both voting and basic rights to education and physical well-being coexist just fine without limiting freedom. Langeland should be aware of that since he’s a government official in one of the countries that does it best. Castro didn’t win the award, but he is no loser. In 2014, he won China’s Confucius Peace Prize.
Vladimir Putin, the poster child for modern-day invasions, was nominated by the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World in 2014. It’s not mysterious at all that it’s a Russian advocacy group. They wanted Putin to be recognized for his efforts in using non-military action to get the Syrian government to surrender its chemical weapons. It was enough for the committee to consider him for a couple of rounds even though he had invaded the Ukraine by this point. But, ultimately, he didn’t win because Syria was “behind schedule in turning over its weapons”, which is the polite way of saying Syria blew off Putin’s orders.