“He got the peace prize, we got the problem.”

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel peace prize.

In an interview with Claude Lewis, Malcolm said, “He got the peace prize, we got the problem…. If I’m following a general, and he’s leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.”

Whatever one thinks of MLK, I think it’s important for us to be skeptical of the so-called “peace” prize. If people like Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin — who have done more to entrench the oppression of the Palestinians than most people — can receive the Nobel peace prize then you know it doesn’t mean much. Or, that it rarely means anything. In fact, the peace prize was given to them precisely because it was about “peace” — Oslo was all about “peace” — not about justice. And there can never be any peace until there is first justice, unless that peace is enforced at the barrel of a gun (and, in the case of Israel, with an apartheid wall). If Kofi Annan, that lapdog of imperialism, can win the peace prize, if Bill Clinton can be considered for a peace prize, if Ariel Sharon can be considered a “man of peace” then the word “peace” has no meaning.

Besides, a bunch of rich white guys toasting each other over fine food and fine wine to decide who will be this year’s cause célèbre is not in any way acknowledging the difficult and dangerous work of thousands of activists. “Non-violence” becomes a universal principle rather than a tactical decision. The Nobel committee simply perpetuates structural inequality rather than doing anything to really, actually change anything. Mandela and FW de Clerk (a notorious practitioner of apartheid who decided to ‘end’ it when it suited opportunism) get the peace prize. But we see that little justice, little actual change has taken place in South Africa in terms of the unequal distribution of resources and wealth that still corresponds largely to race.

Here, then, we see that several Nobel prize winners (not just peace prize winners), led by Elie Wiesel, have signed a statement condemning recent moves by British unions to boycott Israel’s apartheid.

They got the prizes, we got the problems.

  del.icio.us this!

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Abu Yasmeen said,

    August 7, 2007 @ 10:26 am

    nicely said!

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Say your words