Some people, mostly conservative Western pundits are shocked and accuse Obama of not deserving the Nobel Peace Prize. They claim Obama has done nothing to deserve such a high honor of peace. Not true.
Most criticism comes from those on the American right who disrespect the idea of an African-American being President of the United States of America. They refuse to recognize what a great achievement it is. Their belittlement underscores the lifetime of race-based hurdles and barricades Obama overcame to become President.
Many people dislike the U.S. It does make many mistakes. However, this country led the way to eliminating 1,000 years of European monarchies that crushed common people around the world. The U.S. established the concept of modern democracy and a balanced government of the people, by the people and for the people. It established human rights laws, and expanded them as it progressed. The U.S. is a country of 350 million persons from hundreds of different countries. It is the best model ever for people of different religions, ethnicities, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and political beliefs for how to get along without recurring civil wars and ethnic violence.
That said, black Africans were brought to the Americas as slaves and lived with terrible discrimination for over 300 years. Even after the end of slavery, legal ethnic discrimination in the U.S. survived through the 1950s. African-Americans were prohibited from riding buses with white people, eating in the same room with whites, attending the same schools, marrying white Americans, even drinking from the same water fountains used by white Americans.
Changing these laws and beliefs was a struggle. Many were murdered and beaten. Millions took to the streets, peacefully and violently. Several great American leaders were assassinated before the government truly promoted ethnic justice and equality. The experience of an ethnic minority in such an environment of fear, threat, and deprivation is impossible for the average privileged white American to imagine. Unless you have spent time in real poverty, lived with the daily stench of open sewers, no education, no medical care, no work, no justice, no chance, no father; preyed on by criminals and drug addicts, with no role models or mentors, you have no clue what real struggle means.
Those who are nurtured by strong families, go to good schools, are groomed for college scholarships, get good jobs through family connections, have trust funds or inheritances, or home mortgages co-signed by mom and dad, and think they “struggled” equally with someone who has suffered ethnic discrimination, are clueless to the experience of the majority of the world’s under-privileged , who struggle daily for a warm place to sleep, treatment for a skin disease, some bread , clean water, and freedom from fear of theft, beatings, prison, and sexual assault.
Obama experienced the hardship of being an ethnic minority and lost both parents when he was very young. Yet he rose above it and achieved a good education, made it to the top of his law school, and was elected to public offices. Sixty-seven million Americans, from all walks of life, voted for Obama to be the 44th President of the United States of America.
This great achievement provided hope to billions of ethnically discriminated persons. It provided hope to everyone who has experienced prejudice and violence because of gender, religion, physical or mental disability, philosophical ideas, or social class. Billions around the world saw that if a black person could become U.S. president, then the world truly could change for the better.
Obama accepted challenge and never gave up. He inspired billions of people to see there could be justice in the world. For this, five Norwegians recognized him as the most important humanitarian and promoter of peace in 2009. This achievement will not be diminished by those whose idea of struggle is shaving a point off their golf score.
It is an achievement that Obama has worked 48 years to accomplish, against enormous obstacles, and his award is a stroke of true insight, understanding, and genius by the Nobel committee.