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Two Girls and a Peace Prize

Greta Thunberg participates in a youth climate-change protest in front of the United Nations, August 30, 2019. (Jeenah Moon / Reuters)

Last week, I got a note from an Italian journalist. “I interviewed you several years ago about Malala as a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner. Now I would be curious to know your opinion about Greta Thunberg: Do you think she is too radical and divisive to have a real chance? Would you be glad if she got it and why?”

Good questions. I doubt the Norwegian Nobel Committee will give the prize to Greta. Let me hasten to say, however, that I have been wrong before (and will again). The committee handed out a global-warming prize in 2007: to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore (in that order). Of course, they could hand out another one, more than a decade later.

I wrote about the 2007 prize, and approximately 100 others, in Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World.

Yes, the committee could give out another global-warming prize — but to Greta? I think they will deem her too young and too raw. She is only 16. Her views have not yet fully matured. Who knows what she will think even two or three years from now?

I wrote a little note about Greta two weeks ago (here). I don’t think she should be playing so prominent a political role at all. I cringe — at the celebration of her and the condemnation of her. Some of us conservatives attack her gleefully. At the same time, we criticize Donald Trump in the most strained, reluctant, decorous way, if at all. Greta is a 16-year-old girl; Trump is a 70-something president of the United States.

Malala Yousafzai was 17 when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. She was a different case, I would say. She was not just another anti-Islamist activist, invaluable as those are. She was a survivor and symbol. She had been shot by Islamists and badly wounded — almost murdered.

Sometimes I am asked, “Whom do you think should win the Nobel Peace Prize?” I have two main answers. I would give it to the White Helmets, the Syrian civil-defense group. They try to rescue people from the rubble, risking life and limb to do so. Indeed, sometimes they are killed. Plus, they are subject to the usual Kremlin propaganda, along with Iranian and other propaganda. I see this repeated by Right and Left.

I would also give the Nobel to a Cuban democracy leader, or group — the Ladies in White, for example. Or Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet. Or Rosa María Payá, the daughter of another great democracy leader, the late Oswaldo (possibly murdered by the Cuban dictatorship — the circumstances are murky).

That’s my two cents, but the Norwegian Nobel Committee doesn’t ask me, which is rude.

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