Give the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to Malala!

In light of the thirtieth anniversary of “Banned Books Week,” which Mark Tapson wrote about nicely here, I thought I’d share this photo. In the United States, we are lucky to be able to celebrate an occasion like “Banned Books Week.” In other parts of the world, the simple act of reading a book can get you thrown in jail. In Pakistan, for a young woman like fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai to read a book, and for her to encourage other young women to do the same and become educated, got her a bullet in the head on her way home from school. Thankfully, Malala survived the assassination attempt by the Taliban and is in stable condition.

A few days after the Taliban tried to kill Malala for promoting education rights for girls, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union for contributing “to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” Not only was the Norwegian selection committee’s decision obviously motivated by political correctness, it also set a low bar for our definition of “peace” and the pursuit of it. Why are we rewarding Europe for not going to war, for not behaving in an uncivilized and savage manner? Would we reward children for not getting into fights at school? No, we reward people and organizations for doing good in the world.

When the news broke internationally that Malala had been nearly killed by religious extremists on October 9 for doing something that is fundamentally good–promoting girl’s rights and standing up to the warmongering Taliban–the committee should have pulled the prize from the EU before it was announced on October 12, and given it to the teenaged girl. At this point, they could take the prize back from the EU and give it to Malala, but I’m not holding my breath.

Angelina Jolie, a UN ambassador, suggests awarding the prize to Malala sometime in the future in this wonderful piece that appeared in The Daily Beast yesterday:

The following morning, the news showed pictures of children across Pakistan holding up Malala’s picture at vigils and demonstrations, and praying in schools. My son worried that girls were going to be shot for standing up for Malala. I told him that they were aware of the danger, but publicly supporting her reflects how much Malala means to them. Malala’s courage reminded all Pakistanis how important an education is. Her bravery inspired their own.

Still trying to understand, my children asked, “Why did those men think they needed to kill Malala?” I answered, “because an education is a powerful thing.”

The shots fired on Malala struck the heart of the nation, and as the Taliban refuse to back down, so too do the people of Pakistan. This violent and hateful act seems to have accomplished the opposite of its intent, as Pakistanis rally to embrace Malala’s principles and reject the tyranny of fear. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said “let this be a lesson.” Yes. Let this be a lesson—that an education is a basic human right, a right that Pakistan’s daughters will not be denied.

As girls across Pakistan stand up to say “I am Malala,” they do not stand alone. Mothers and teachers around the world are telling their children and students about Malala, and encouraging them to be a part of her movement for girls’ education. Across Pakistan, a national movement has emerged to rebuild the schools and recommit to educate all children, including girls. This terrible event marks the beginning of a necessary revolution in girls’ education.

Malala is proof that it only takes the voice of one brave person to inspire countless men, women, and children. In classrooms and at kitchen tables around the world, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are praying for Malala’s swift recovery and committing themselves to carry her torch. As the Nobel Committee meets to determine the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, I imagine brave Malala will be given serious consideration.

I think Jolie makes great points, but wouldn’t it have been far more powerful for the Nobel committee to strike while the iron was hot by giving the prize to Malala this year? Not only would doing so have empowered girls like Malala across the world, but it would have further ostracized and dealt a moral blow to the Taliban, which has claimed that it will finish its job and kill Malala.

  1. Anne R. Pierce
    C

    As a person obsessed with human rights and individual rights, I think this is a much better idea than awarding the prize to the EU – which is often too bent on its own importance to worry about such things.

  2. Southern Pessimist

    Your points are absolutely correct. When Stephen Strassburg had 14 strikeouts in his first outing as a major league pitcher last year, Charles Krauthammer said that he should automatically be admitted to the Hall of Fame because the precedent had already been set with Obama’s Nobel prize. It makes as much sense. On a more serious note, I hope this young lady recovers. She can be an amazing advocate for real women’s issues just by surviving.

  3. Keith Rice

    The Althing has no interest in contesting Moslem tradition.

  4. Roberto
    Emily Esfahani Smith:  When the news broke internationally that Malala had been nearly killed by religious extremists on October 9 for doing something that is fundamentally good–promoting girl’s rights and standing up to the warmongering Taliban–the committee should have pulled the prize from the EU before it was announced on October 12, and given it to the teenaged girl. · · 19 minutes ago

    If they had done this she would have been wise to refuse it. This young girl has shown far too much courage and dignity to be associated with the witless clowns inhabiting Stockholm who preside over this farce, such would grant them accolades by association. 

    Those vultures do enough damage as is, Malala Yousafzai’s nobility in the face of adversity would only be diminished. Leave her in peace rather then let her be hijacked by that disgusting circus.

  5. Jimmy Carter

    [taking a medal off the shelf.....]

    What credibility is this “Peace” Prize anyway?

    Yasser Arafat has one!

    And why the “religious extremists” words? They’re terrorists or savages or animals.

  6. Roberto
    genferei: Education is a wonderful thing. But it’s not always about ‘peace’. · 6 hours ago

    It is rather ungentlemanly to charge her harshly on this genferei, she is very young and with few opportunities. If the International Marxist Tendency gave her an opportunity to attend school and speak over a few days while others ignored her who is to blame?

  7. Neolibertarian

    I agree with your basic sentiments, and Jolie’s of course, but the fact of the matter is, the Nobel Committee isn’t up to it.

    Malala doesn’t require any trinkets of honor in the first place, obviously.

    I think it a mistake to wish the Nobel Peace Prize were more than it actually is–since wishing will never make it so. Bestowing it on the right people has always been quite accidental…and rare.

    There are far better and more meaningful ways to honor her.

  8. genferei
    Roberto It is rather ungentlemanly to charge her harshly on this

    I don’t think I’m being harsh.

    The world is a complex place, and areas like Swat are more complicated than we (or I) can imagine. Where there is no real government, a fractured civil society and a notorious lack of peace I’m not going to second-guess the decisions of the locals about how to get through the day.

    But I’m not going to rush to give them the Nobel Peace Prize, either.

  9. Aaron Miller

    While I share Roberto’s and Jimmy’s estimation of the Nobel prizes’ honor, the prize and its associated monetary award could be practically useful toward Malala’s cause.

    God willing, this young woman’s courage will inspire others in the region. Sadly, the trend of brutally unjust political and cultural leadership in such nations is unlikely to be broken without more than a few martyrs.

    Parents should think of this girl and ask themselves: Would you support your own child in such public promotions of justice, knowing that it puts his or her very life (and yours) at risk?

    In my experience, parents want to have it both ways. Parents teach their kids to stand for justice and honor, yet discourage them from risking their careers or anything of similar gravity. Their affection clouds their judgment. Great love requires allowing others to make their own sacrifices; it involves a willingness not only to give, but also to receive.

    In the Christian worldview, at least, suffering for good is rewarded in Heaven. Protecting children and other loved ones from tragic acts of charity is not so kind as it feels.

  10. Indaba

    the prize seems to be given as encouragement rather than for accomplishment. 

  11. Astonishing

    Yes, Jolie has written a very pretty letter.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call Jolie a quisling, but isn’t there something both too fashionable and too ineffectual in the way she seeks to improve the condition of women by allying herself with such as the UN or by seeking to influence such as the Nobel Committee?

    Perhaps she’s simply not terribly bright, perhaps she’s simply terribly naive, but perhaps the problem is not that she’s too naive, that if she really cared so much about women and less about political fashion, she’d find better conduits through which to exercise her celebrity influence. If she cares so much about the women of that region, why does she not scream bloody murder about the way Obama is in the process of abandoning them to the Taliban?

  12. Nanda Panjandrum

    Well-said, Emily!  Thank you…

  13. Guruforhire

    Thank god President Obama didn’t write that article.

  14. HVTs

    A completely unknown person makes a movie trailer, of which no one is even aware until crazies in the Muslim world cause riots and mayhem, mostly directed at US representatives abroad.  The long arm of Johnny Law is brought down on the movie trailer maker.  Our President and Secretary of State buy Pakistani television time to condemn the movie trailer and reassure Pakistanis we could not possibly agree with any one offending Islamic sensibilities.  Our President announces from the pulpit of the UN his solidarity with those who oppose “offending the Prophet of Islam.”

    Where’s the Pakistani leader buying US television time to reassure me of his commitment to my values? Did I miss that news story? 

    Instead, my tax dollars are helping to underwrite that Pakistani leader’s government with lavish foreign aid.

    That, my friends, is cultural power.  Islam has it.  We are craven in the face of it and therefore encourage our own destruction.

    Our National groveling in the face of fascistic tyranny ensures there will be many more young victims like Malala.  Are we to keep patching up their head wounds or to address the source of the problem?

  15. genferei

    Education is a wonderful thing. But it’s not always about ‘peace’.

    mala.png

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