I was watching another John Pilger doc (which will be the topic of the next post) and once again Henry Kissinger’s name came up. I remembered that he had won the Nobel Peace prize for something, and that him winning was controversial. This then led me to remember other Nobel Prize tidbits, and I decided I’d write about it.
First of all, Kissinger won the prize for his efforts to end the war in Vietnam (see the Paris Peace Accords) along with the North Vietnamese Politburo Member Le Duc Tho. This is funny because Le Duc Tho refused the award, saying that peace had not actually been achieved. Wikipedia: “[After the award had been given] the conflict continued until an invasion of the South by the North Vietnamese Army resulted in a North Vietnamese victory in 1975 and the subsequent progression of the Pathet Lao in Laos towards figurehead status, and the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.” The Khmer Rouge, you’ll remember, was the topic of my post from a little while ago. That doc helped to reveal Kissinger’s role in the bombing of Cambodia. As you’ll soon learn as well (in my next post), he’s also responsible for helping Indonesia invade and commit genocide on East Timor.
Along with Le Duc Tho, Jean Paul Sartre is the only other person to voluntarily reject a Nobel Prize. Sartre “said he did not wish to be “transformed” by such an award, and did not want to take sides in an East vs. West cultural struggle by accepting an award from a prominent Western cultural institution.”
Another Nobel Peace prize that some view as controversial / embarrassing is Mother Theresa. For a lot of you, this will come as a shock. I point you to the following videos by Hitchens:
Finally, the last recipient I want to mention is Egas Moniz, the inventor of the prefrontal leucotomy (later to be altered to the lobotomy), the invention for which he won the award. If you’re not familiar with how inhumane this procedure is, just think of it as basically creating zombies out of people, or as Soviet Union doctors put it in 1953: ‘[the procedure is] contrary to the principles of humanity,’ and, ‘through lobotomy, an insane person is changed into an idiot’*. In a unrelated note to Nobel, Jeffrey Dahmer wanted to do something similar with his victims, however he used a drill and acid instead of an ice pick…**
*Laurence WL (1953, August 22): Lobotomy banned in soviet as cruel. New York Times, p. 13.
**Dateline NBC: The Final Interview (NBC television broadcast, Nov. 29, 1994).