Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, October 10, 2009


"Thanatz" critiques from the Moot:
Predator droning AfPak civilians, GITMOizing Bagram, continuing an Iraq war despite, um, y'know, campaign promises, and a flat refusal to discuss or enforce an Israeli settlement freeze. Why you're right, Dale/Rachel, I couldn't imagine a more rightful recipient of the Henry Kissinger Peace Prize.

I am no less aware nor any less sensitive to these things than you are, and yet I see real possibilities for progress toward more democracy and more peace in awarding Obama this Prize, I see these possibilities differently than you seem to do. And it seems that Maddow has come to a similar conclusion.

I think her report was powerful, factual, sensible, and a force for good. People of good will can disagree on that and people of different tastes can go their diverse ways and still contribute to peace and justice.

No doubt your heart is in the right place even if you might not be either sensible enough or generous enough to recognize the same in me. But do go ahead and fight vigorously for a more peaceful and democratic and equitable and diverse world on the terms that seem best to you. And you can be sure that I will continue to do the same on my own.

You know, there really are actually broken, fearful, greedy, controlling, violent, authoritarian people and associations out there who fight equity and diversity and democracy and peace and creativity for real, all in the name of infantile certainties and corrupt incumbencies and pathological aggressivities.

You sound a little like someone who may have lost sight of what it means to appreciate collaborators who differ from you. Maybe I'm wrong to think that or maybe I'm just feeling a bit defensive in the face of your accusation, but it is always a worthy thing to remember that not all our allies will be our kin, our friends, or share our tastes or situations. And still, we people of the democratic left the equitable left the diverse left, we really are allies just the same.

If you see poison everywhere, even in faint compromised shafts of light, I suspect your heart will be too poisoned too soon to be of much abiding use in the struggles to which we are both likely devoted.

But that's something I fear and not something I know. Best of luck to you.


Impertinent Weasel said...

Rachel Maddow is grasping to find the good in this, but this stupid prize sets Obama's domestic agenda back tenfold. Sure, it will certainly help him when it comes to global issues, but the Nobel committee doesn't fully appreciate how utterly divisive this award is going to be, even among Democrats. I'm American, and I believe global issues are certainly important, but for fuck's sake, what about getting something done at home? I understand what the Nobel Committee is trying to do, and it's admirable, yadda-yadda, but what they're trying to do, and what Obama's trying to do here at home are two very different things. This prize just adds an unnecessary variable at a time when every variable needs to be understood and managed. It's annoying as hell. Obama so far has handled this with grace, but there's not much of a difference between grace and damage control in this instance. The prize actually steals political capital from him at a moment in history when he needs all of it. What a goddamned backfire.

Dale Carrico said...

Obama is getting things done, quite a bit more than I expected him to manage given the complexities of actually-existing conditions. My own politics are to the left of our centrist President, as I knew well all along, but given where we have been and where we are, I think his politics are pretty close to the left wing of the possible for now, however much I approve of continuing to push him from the left to make him do more when we can.

But even as a queer especially disappointed with his performance so far on glbtq issues, and an anti-miltarist deeply worried about escalation in Afghanistan, I am nevertheless happy about Obama's Presidency overall, in the balance, and quite proud that he is our and my own President (something I have never felt before in my entire life, and I am 44 years old).

I have no illusions on these matters, but I don't have to "grasp" to find good in what Obama has done and is doing and in the global impact he has had, and I strongly suspect neither is Maddow "grasping" to find the good in all this, especially the obvious good by any reasonable standard (her exactly correct phrase) of one's President winning the Nobel Peace Prize for the stated reasons and so soon after eight years of global disrepute brought on by war-criminality and catastrophe should be plain to the meanest intelligence, or at any rate I should have thought so.

Go ahead and enjoy your annoyance and doomsaying, by all means, if it pleases you, but I for one (like so many others) am pleased and proud by the award, by the words of the Committee in awarding it, and by the words of our President in accepting it.

The concerns raised by "Thanatz" were sensible ones and I share them in no small measure -- even if I disagree that it makes any kind of sense to imagine these concerns better addressed by a world in which Obama was not awarded this Prize -- but your own histrionics makes as little sense to me as the comparable noises belching forth from Talibanists and Movement Republicans on this particular subject.

Sorry, I'm sure you're a perfectly nice and well-meaning person to those who actually know more of you, but what I see of you in these limited utterances makes little sense to me at all and doesn't speak particularly well of you. Best to you.

Kate said...

It seemed to me rather similar to the whole "Permenant majority" thing when Bush won his second term, only to turn around and argue that Obama's win was not a mandate for a leftist agenda. Another word for it would be hypocrisy, though this is a little different since the conservative movement never really had actual respect for most winners of the peace prize.

But I'm also reminded of the kerfuffle around the nobel literature prize a year or two ago about how the US hadn't won literature nobel in quite a while, despite a strong history with that particular prize. It's kind of like the US' viewpoint of the Olympics. Sure, they talk up all the stuff about it being about countries coming together to celebrate athletic talent regardless of the country and all that, but there aren't all that many forums that are less politicized than the Olympics. The Nobel Peace prize may be one exception. Plus the US seems to rarely applaud laureates who are not from the US--instead, they demand to know why the winner wasn't American.

Politicians and pundits keep talking up how Obama hasn't done a whole lot, but they speak mostly in terms of domestic accomplishments, which in some cases has been a little lacking (lgbtq, health care, etc.), and in the process they are forgetting that the peace prize is about international cooperation, international communication and diplomacy; it's about how the person has changed "the game" or at least how everyone approaches it in some form. In that sense, the world (Europe in particular, it seems) has radically changed their perception of the US.

Sorry if I just parroted everything you were saying. I just thought that the international nature of the nobel prize has been lost in all the navel-gazing of late.

In a related note, one of the two women of the three who has been rewarded the Nobel prize for medicine was actually fired by Bush 43 from the Council of Bioethics for speaking out against the use of the Council and against Bush's position on stem cell research. The Nobel Committee didn't have to award the Peace prize to Obama to criticize Bush's presidency.