Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]
C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific
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the shoes of Jimmy Carter...
[Sally C. Pipes] 1/14/04
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
for 2003 to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer. The choice has
left many women puzzled, especially those in countries where
women's rights are not exactly flourishing, such as Ebadi's
own country of Iran.
Eleven women have won the Nobel Peace Prize, beginning with
Baroness Bertha von Suttner in 1905. The weakest of the lot is
the 1992 winner Rigoberta Menchu, whose story of humble beginnings
and opposition to tyranny, as this column previously pointed
out, is largely fraudulent. But not even Ms. Menchu staged a
performance like that of Shirin Ebadi.
The Iranian lawyer
did not use her acceptance speech to defend women from the
restrictions and humiliations they suffer in Iran,
an oppressive theocracy of unusual ferocity. Recently, Zahra
Kazemi, a Canadian journalist of Iranian extraction, was murdered
while taking photos outside a Tehran prison during a student
protest. The regime first said the 54-year-old Kazemi died of
a stroke but after protests from Canada, which withdrew its ambassador,
Iranian vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi finally admitted that "The
murder was caused by brain hemorrhage due to a blow inflicted
Shirin Ebadi did not
mention that atrocity, neither did she criticize the rigid
Iranian regime. Rather, she lambasted the
United States, accusing America of violating "universal
principles and laws of human rights by using the events of September
11th and the war on international terrorism as a pretext."
That, of course, is nonsense, and malicious nonsense at that.
It is as though 1991 Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi had
praised Burma's military dictatorship, or laureate Alexander
Solzhenitsyn had attacked the west and touted the Soviet Union.
As it turns out, Ebadi is not a critic of politicized Islam
at all. Rather, she is an open apologist for it, as pointed out
by Iranian exiles demonstrating at the Nobel ceremonies.
Massoumeh Ebtekar, Iran's vice president for the environment,
appeared on CNN to praise Ebadi and portray Iran as a place where
women have made great advances. Ebtekar, some may remember, was
the official spokesman for the Iranian militants who in 1979
invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took Americans hostage.
It also turns out
that Ebadi is just the sort of candidate the Nobel committee
wanted. Geir Lundestad said "We felt it
important to relate to human rights in the Muslim world, but
wanted to avoid demonizing Islam."
That gives the game away. Peace Prize candidates are not chosen
for their own merits, nor for actual contributions to peace.
Rather the Nobel people pick the one that carries the message
they want to send, even if he or she defends a regime that quashes
human rights, subjugates women, and murders journalists.
There is solace to be taken from the previous Nobel winners
in other fields. Marie Sklodowska Curie won the prize for physics
in 1903 and then for chemistry in 1911, long before the feminist
movement claimed credit for women's accomplishments. Nine other
women have won in fields such as chemistry, physiology, and medicine.
Nine women have also won the Nobel Prize for literature.
This should make it clear that talented women are being recognized
for their achievements. The most recent Peace Prize, however,
would lead us to believe that some women still have difficulty
distinguishing freedom from tyranny.
Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute
2004 Pacific Research Institute