Phi Beta Cons

Piece of Paya

My running choice for a Nobel Peace Prize is Oswaldo Paya, the Cuban democracy activist. Columbia University is giving him an honorary law degree next week–a wise and inspiring choice–but Fidel Castro won’t let him leave his island paradise in order to accept it personally.
Here’s what Paya’s citation will say:

Engineer, journalist, activist, tireless campaigner for human rights and advocate for the people of Cuba, you represent the aspirations of millions around the world yearning for freedom and democracy. Based on the Cuban constitution itself, your Varela Project – a peaceful civic initiative to gather signatures across Cuba for the establishment of a free and democratic citizenry – is a model of civic activism. At great personal sacrifice and despite nearly constant surveillance and harassment, you have remained committed to non-violent dissidence and political change. You embody a life of principle in practice and we are proud to celebrate your extraordinary dedication to peaceful, democratic values by conferring on you the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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