Monday, September 22, 2008

Indira Ghandi Peace Prize

Supposedly there is an Indira Ghandi Peace prize, which the current president of Iceland has won (he's coming to Columbia College, and I still occasionally read their publicity). Leaving aside the ruler of the most geologically- and genetically-nifty nation on the planet, I'd like to take a moment to ask a question the publicity surrounding his visit did not consider it in their purview ( and rightly so, perhaps) to ask: "Gee, guys. Why do you think Indira Ghandi would have a peace prize named after her?"

A little backstory: she was the daugher of Jawaharlar Nehru, the man who, along with Mohandas Ghandi (no blood relation to Indira) brought modern, democratic India into existence. She had a successful first term as Prime Minister in the late 60s (in which she was responsible for revolutionizing Indian agriculture) and, like you would, ran again twice more. Those two terms, and a third that came on the heels of some pretty exciting felony charges, showed more and more of her megalomaniacal side--development of the nuclear bomb (idiotically code-named "smiling Buddha"); boxing matches with the Muslim and Sikh separatist movements until, after ordering a raid-turned-massacre at the Golden Temple (THE Sikh holy place) she was killed by...get this: her two Sikh bodyguards.

Note to dictators everywhere: make sure the people you pay to stand behind you with sub-machine guns don't want to shoot you with them.

But the point is, none of this constitutes evidence that she should have a peace prize named after her. Maybe a prize should be given in her name at the Cornell School of Agriculture that takes the form of a parsnip with her face carved into it and 20 bullet holes and exit wounds on the sides, the placement of which are engineered so you can play it like a fife. Why not? I could use a laugh. But could we please save the peace prizes--both the naming and the bestowing--for people who make the world a safer place to live in other ways than leaving it? What's next? The Josef Stalin Leadership Award? (I'd give the old standby example, Yasser Arafat--but he already received a Nobel peace prize. He got it, of course, for curing cancer and for writing a well received series of articles, syndicated in the early 90s by NY Times, Atlantic, and other respected marketplaces of ideas, in which he warned us of the threat posed by the Jews. Did you know that before reading his articles, 8 out of 10 Americans didn't know Jews control the media? After he wrote them? 6 out of 10. Don't progress feel good?)

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