Hopkins Wins Pulitzer Prize

John J. Hopkins Oct. 17, 2009, 9:00am


"Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, and thanks so much for coming to Edwardsville today. As I am sure you all know, yesterday I was informed that I have been awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary.

"This award was given not for anything that I have written, but for the potential great columns that might come forth in the future. I would like to thank a number of people whose efforts made this day possible.

"First, of all, my high school teacher Fr. James Genesio who taught me not only a love of language, but to challenge authority at every level.

"I cannot forget the fine folks at the Madison County Record, who first gave me a chance for expression. I shall trust that now I shall be entitled to a huge raise.

"But more than any other, I wish to thank Barack Obama who, with his Nobel Prize win, removed merit as a requirement for recognition, paving the way for all us unqualified to receive that which we do not deserve, but shamelessly covet. For that, my sincere thanks, Mr. President. Like you, I should not have be given the prize, but I will take it anyway."

Obviously, a bit of satire here, in reaction to the news from Norway granting what was intended as a recognition of a life's work in pursuit of the elusive dove of peace, to a Chicago politician with a paper thin resume.

When the award was announced Oct. 9, the clearly audible gasp in shock from the crowd assembled spoke volumes. No one can defend, no one can legitimize, no one can with a straight face support the Committee's decision. But the focus should not be on the honoree, but rather the mind set, the philosophy that would even suggest a prestigious award be given without even a hint of merit.

But as Clint Eastwood said in "Unforgiven" - SIDEBAR movie reference - "Deserving ain't got nothing to do with it, Kid."

The Nobel Committee has now made a once distinguished award an international joke. There have been honorees in the past recognized primarily as homage to their political views -- think of Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, or U.N. crook Kofi Annan -- but at least they had a lifetime of work in the leftist vineyards to deflect the critics' objection.

No such pretense was employed in this selection, with the nomination actually made in early February, less than a month into the Obama term. By politicizing the selection, the choice is diminished, without honor. This is especially true when considering those whose omission cannot be reconciled with history.

In my lifetime, the most significant event in the quest for world peace is the fall of the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the "Evil Empire," the Berlin Wall was finally torn down, the arms race quelled, and the Cold War was over. No single event meant more to ease global tensions, yet the parties responsible for shaping world history for the better - Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and especially Pope John Paul II - have been unheeded, the price paid for policies contrary to the world view of the Committee's. By any measurement, a group that excludes such visionaries can no longer be taken seriously.

By replacing merit with philosophical nepotism, the Nobel Committee has sanctioned a most dangerous idea, that true accomplishments are secondary. What counts is the effort, how you feel about yourself and how you make others feel.

In this egocentric world, they have perhaps selected the perfect candidate, but it foretells a world where the hard working are chumps, as the deck is rigged in favor of the politically correct.

The spirit of competition - rewarding the winner and ONLY the winner, coupled with a social attitude that strives to BE that winner - made America great.

With the unfortunate Oprahnization and weakening of the nation, we are losing our essential competitive nature, watching it slip away in a banner of 9th place ribbons, as the Chinese, adopting that which we cast aside, march steadily to achieve with dollars that which was unattainable with guns, a subservient USA. In a very real sense, Obama's award enables, supports and epitomizes such a misbegotten view.

My home town of Alton was visited recently by Greg Mortenson, a truly worthy Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of "Three Cups of Tea," the story of his efforts in building schools and medical clinics in the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His humanitarian efforts, seeking to build a peaceful world literally brick by brick, while ignored by the Committee, have been an inspiration to those in Alton who heard his words. A new spirit of volunteerism has taken hold, stirred by his selfless story.
Forsaken though it may be by the winds of political correctness, this is an example worth imitating.

Be not afraid.

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