The Corner

Nobel Fantasizing

Mark’s post has led me to take a further stroll through Nobel history. How can we hoi polloi claim to be Nobel peace laureates?

‐The Red Cross has won the prize three times. Have you ever contributed to the Red Cross? Take a bow.

‐Plenty of American statesmen have won the prize. Theodore Roosevelt refused to accept the money for his personal use. He reasoned that he had been in a position to win the prize only because the American people had elected him to a mighty office.

He wrote sort of a touching note to his son Kermit: “. . . I hated to come to the decision, because I very much wisht for the extra money to leave to all you children.”

‐In 1947, the Quakers won — the service organizations in Philadelphia and London. Are you a Quaker? Feel like claiming laureateship?

‐Over and over, the Nobel committee has awarded the United Nations — its agencies, its personalities, etc. The United States contributes more than 20 percent of the U.N.’s budget. So . . .

‐The International Labour Organization won in 1969. Maybe you paid dues that went toward the ILO?

‐I got an e-mail from a reader who said he knew a fellow who claimed to have won the Nobel Peace Prize — because he was associated with IPPW: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won in 1985. (Disgraceful award, but that’s another story. These are all other stories.)

‐Maybe you’ve worn a blue helmet? The U.N. Peacekeeping Forces won in 1988.

‐Were you part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines? They won in 1997.

‐Maybe you’ve participated in Doctors without Borders, winner in 1999. Say, does Bernard Kouchner claim to be a Nobel laureate? He was the main founder of the group.

‐This year, as Mark pointed out, the European Union won. And there are a whole lot of people who live in countries belonging to the European Union (for now).

‐As readers of my book know, George C. Marshall did very, very well when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. His various remarks in Oslo were superb. So was his demeanor, his bearing — his spirit, if I may put it that way.

He won the prize for the Marshall Plan. He was the only person not to call it that. He was far too modest. He called the plan by its formal name, the European Recovery Program.

He told the assemblage in Oslo, “I accept this honor with profound gratitude . . . And I do it not merely for myself, but more specially for the American people, who, alone, made possible the authority, and made possible the funds, which made the European Recovery Program a reality.”

My shtick aside: Dr. Michael Mann made a greater contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change than I have made to the Red Cross or the United States or what have you. (I have a shtick, he has a hockey shtick.) But still: To claim to be a “Nobel prize recipient” — it is a stretch at the very, very best. Actually, it’s far worse than a stretch.

One more word: Three years ago, I wrote a piece called “Two Inconvenient Canadians: The unlikely men who shook up global-warming science.” (Go here, if you like.) Those men, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, are people I would like to see honored. They are scientific, and they are brave. Obviously, such men are threats to anyone inclined to egotism or fakery. I am no scientist. But I think we all have eyes to see something about character.

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