Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Nobel Peace Prize or Popularity Contest? by Mikayla Halsell

            Established in 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize is annually given to someone who in the previous year “shall have done 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”. ( However, somewhere down the line, the true meaning was lost and now it seems to be more of a popularity contest than an actual award for peace. Sure, there were several winners who were quite notable, such as Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. But let’s not forget some of the most undeserved winners of the Nobel Peace Prize: former president Jimmy Carter in 2002, former vice president Al Gore in 2007, and last but not least, President Barack H. Obama in 2009. Not only were these men comically inapt for the prize, but they won merely by their popularity and likability (even though I still find that hard to believe) since none of the men above displayed any criteria that should have earned them their nominations in the first place.
            But however far-fetched those previous winners were, yet another nominee rivals the absurdity formerly displayed. Russia’s own Vladimir Putin has claimed his spot on the record-breaking list of nominations including 278 other candidates. Of all the other nominations who were inapt for the prize, I think Vladimir Putin takes first place for being the most absurd and preposterous candidate yet. That being said, there were a few others who rival him, such as previous nominees Adolf Hitler (1939), Josef Stalin (1948), and Fidel Castro (2001). So you can be the judge of whether or not Putin rises above that lovely trio.
            But looking at the current nominations for 2014, I’m dumbfounded that Putin even made the list. I mean, if criteria for winning the Nobel Peace Prize include gassing your own people, passing anti-gay “propaganda” laws, wrestling bears with your shirt off, and recently invading another county, such as, oh, I don’t know…Ukraine, then by all means, let’s hand over the Peace Prize and $1.2 million in cash! But if we’re still going by the original definition of a Peace Prize winner, then please, stop nominating ridiculous candidates.
            Vladimir Putin, however, is not the only notorious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency member who leaked important classified government documents, found his way on the list. In addition, Chelsea Manning, a former American soldier who also leaked numerous classified documents concerning operations in the Middle East, was nominated as well. However, Manning is still in prison for her crime as she is finishing up her 35 years sentence in jail. So obviously, she is a prime candidate next to Vladimir Putin.
            Despite the farcical nominees previously listed, there are two others that have been reported to be on the list: Pope Francis, and Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, a teenage girl who was shot by the Taliban for promoting girl’s rights for education.  These two individuals seem to be the only nominations that actually make sense. Admittedly, I don’t know who the other 273 candidates are. But the fact remains that Vladimir Putin, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning are in the running for the prize. Though the Nobel Peace Prize originated with honorable intentions as a chance to award people who were truly making a difference and creating peace around them, the prize has evolved into the celebrity contest of the year and is now nothing more than a joke. 

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