Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Noble Obama and the Nobel Prize: Obama has an 80% approval rating in Europe. They like his calm and rational intellectual style. We should be thankful since half of the US is anti-intellectual and has the collective intelligence of an incurious 13 year old with an attention span of about 12 minutes. It is why this country has the highest gun violence of any in the industrialized world. Part of this country not only is anti-intellectual but combines that low intellectual sophistication with a love of guns and a belligerence unmatched in modern western culture. It spells out a horribly violent society where VA Tech killings happen with stunning frequency. We are, or at least half of us are, a very violent and stupid nation where little attention is paid to those who win a spelling bee much less to those who are able to write a grammatically correct sentence.

Many who obtain higher education here leave because they do not think the astounding divisions and hatred they encounter would make for a safe place to establish their career. It is to our detriment that we have such a cerebrally diminished and explosive society. I did not grow up thinking this country was anti-intellectual. I grew up thinking it was unbelievably wonderful that I could challenge anything. I was incredulous when my black friend said she could never be secretary of our high school class because she was not white. It took years in college before I learned she was right. She, in that era, would not have been allowed to become secretary of our high school class because she simply did not look like the rest of us. I was too naive then to know what I learned after my college experience, how, indeed, correct she was.

It is Obama's refreshing intellectual refinement, his intelligent curiosity and his rejecting of unilateral cowboy diplomacy so characteristic of the Bush years that the Europeans welcome. In addition, they welcome him as the first half African American president of a country whose founding was enmeshed with the submission of an entire people because they were born with dark skin. For all these reasons it is why I think he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Admittedly, the President’s accomplishments of peace after only nine months in office are thin but it is the essence of his potential and America’s change for the better that, I think, the Europeans laud. They need this country NOT as it was for the past eight years but as it can be for the ensuing years. Europeans know Europe's fate is linked to our own and they hope President Obama can help ensure it.

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