Saturday, November 26, 2005

Peace in our time

I believe in redemption, and I'm opposed to the death penalty, so I have no problem with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenhager possibly commuting a death sentence for the founder of the Crips.

What I do find a troubling, though not surprising, is that the convicted killer was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in stopping gang violence. Given his role in perpetuating gang violence, it would seem the very least he could do. Then again, Yassir Arafat actually won the Nobel Peace Prize, so it probably can't be debased any further.

Of course, those with the greatest capacity to make peace often are those with an equal capacity to make war. Figures like Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. come along once in a generation if we are lucky. The problem with the Nobel Peace Prize--and I am talking off the top of my head here, the mere act of a Google search being too much work for a holiday weekend--is that it seems to be given out for recent achievements. The Nobel Prize in other areas, such as literature and the sciences, often honor a lifetime of achievement, or for a discovery that has stood up to the test of time.

Had Arafat actually honored the spirit of the Oslo agreements, and become a peaceful leader of the Palestinian people, working toward an equitable settlement with Israel, then perhaps his peace prize would not have seemed such a farce. Instead, in 2000, he walked away from an exceedingly generous settlement and chose instead violence, so that peace became possible only after his death. That's hardly the legacy of a man of peace.


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