Albert Schweitzer, the Dalai Lama, Andrei Sakharov, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa and Elie Wiesel.
These, along with many other deserving individuals, were the type of persons who used to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Now look what that selection committee has become. Even before this month, it had lost all credibility. Yasser Arafat, who won in 1993, was a signal of problems to come.
For years, most of the Western world described him as the world's No. 1 terrorist. He was also the corrupt leader of the political faction of Fatah right up to his death.
Laughingly, in 2002 they gave the award to Jimmy Carter simply for speaking out against George Bush. Mohamed ElBaradei followed in 2005.
Then the most ridiculously shallow and politically motivated selection (to that date) took place in 2007. Al Gore, another person rewarded for simply being a President Bush hater (and sore loser), won the prize.
The committee had to come up with some reason for its decision, so he was rewarded for making a very nice PowerPoint presentation about poor polar bears floating on icebergs and the global-warming myth.
Just when I thought the Nobel Committee couldn't make itself look more foolish and noncredible, it did just that.
By selecting Obama as this year's winner, it made itself look idiotic, and in turn Obama has made himself look the same for accepting it.
So many past winners have done so much more and have risked and even sacrificed their lives in their pursuit of a better and more peaceful world.
What has Obama done? Absolutely nothing! He is full of rhetoric and empty of substance. His selection was a joke. You have to remember the nomination deadline was Feb. 1, a mere 11 days after he had taken office!
Columnist Kevin McCullough said it best. "Obama is getting used by the international elitists who have hatred in their heart for an America that is both strong and good. He is getting played like a puppy who is having a treat given to him for sitting still."
The left was as harsh, if not more so, than the right. Michael Russnow, who campaigned for Obama, wrote on the Huffington Post, "Whatever happened to awarding for deeds actually done?" The Washington Post: "It's an odd Nobel Peace Prize that almost makes you embarrassed for the honoree." Liberal bastions like the Huffington Post, The Daily Kos, the Washington Post and The Times of London pretty much said that "Obama has only hot air to show for his efforts at world peace." NPR's Juan Williams said it was utter foolishness. And on and on went the left's comments.
Who was Irena Sendlerowa (1910-2008)? She has quite a story that I am copying verbatim from an Internet download, and yes, checked out for authenticity.
"During WWII, Irena received permission from the Nazis to work in the Warsaw ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.
"Being German, she knew the Nazis' plans for the Jews and smuggled infants out in the bottom of the large tool box she carried. Larger children were placed in a burlap sack in the back of her truck. Also in the back was a dog that she had trained to bark each time the Nazi guards allowed her out of the ghetto and back in.
"The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog, and its barking covered any noise made by the infants and small children. Irena managed to smuggle out approximately 2,500 children before she was finally caught. When she was captured, the Nazis beat her severely, breaking both her arms and her legs.
"Irena kept a record of the names of all the children she smuggled out of that Warsaw ghetto and kept them in a glass jar buried under a tree in her backyard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents who may have survived so she might reunite the child with its family. Most, of course, did not survive the Holocaust, and the vast majority of the surviving children were placed in foster homes or adopted."
I forgot to mention that Irena Sendlerowa was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. She lost to Al Gore.
Check out the accomplishments of Denis Mukwege, Sima Samar, Ghazi bin Muhammad, Greg Mortenson, Piedad Cordoba and Wei Jingsheng. These are just six of the 2009 nominees whom the Committee felt had a lesser impact on world peace than Barack.
My last question. Obama said he would give the entire amount to a charity. Do you think that charity might be ACORN? Think we will ever know?
Be a true leader, Barack. Give the award back to someone much more deserving.
Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.