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Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

No Belle Prize, Continued
Politics of the elite...
[Sally C. Pipes] 10/27/04

From the far north, the heirs of the inventor of dynamite provide the latest evidence that women are still prime candidates for tokenism and blatant political exploitation. I refer to Elfriede Jelinek, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature.

For those of you who don't read her every day, Ms. Jelinek was born in 1946 in the Austrian town of Muerzzuschlag. Only 10 women have won the Novel Prize for literature in the 103 years since it was first awarded. The most recent was Wislawa Szymborska of Poland in 1996.

“They assured me that I received the prize because they value my work, not because I am a woman,” Jelinek told reporters. There may be some truth to that.

Ms. Jelinek is ­ surprise ­ a militant left-wing feminist openly hostile to the Bush administration. Her new play, Babel, deals with the treatment of inmates by American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison.

It fell to the sprightly Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Nobel committee, to deny that the selection of Ms. Jelinek amounted to political commentary. Yet it is clear that the committee overlooked some rather startling politics on the part of Ms. Jelinek.

In 1974, she joined the Austrian Communist Party, something nobody committed to democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech could possibly do. She remained a member until 1991, coincidentally the same year USSR ceased to exist. It takes a special kind of person to show such staying power when Eastern Europeans were fleeing at the first available opportunity.

None of the journalists writing about her Nobel Prize were willing to ask Jelinek about her views of the emigration policies of East Germany, the suppression of Solidarity, and the general persecution of writers and artists under communist regimes. If she has any regrets, she has certainly done a good job keeping them to herself. Jelinek still maintains that she is on the side of the weak, not the powerful.

Oddly enough, the subject of communism also came up with the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. This year’s winner is another woman, Dr. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and beneficiary of the Nobel committee's decision to expand the prize to include environmental advocacy. Maathai is 64, a member of Kenya's parliament, and the deputy ministry for the environment.

The first African woman to win the prize, Maathai heads the Green Belt movement that has planted about 30 million trees in Africa. Dr. Maathai is also on record as saying that AIDS is a biological weapon developed as part of an evil conspiracy to destroy black people. She cannot, however, name those responsible for the plot.

Lech Walesa, a former Nobel winner, was surprised that this year’s peace prize went to an environmentalist. He added that since there is no more apartheid and no more communism, maybe that was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, there still is communism, which rules the most populous nation on earth, China, which has occupied the nation of Tibet since 1959. One wonders what Elfriede Jelinek thinks about that. Perhaps next year’s winners will have a plan for China to peacefully disengage from Tibet and stop threatening Taiwan.

Then there is North Korea, a Stalinist prison camp with nuclear weapons, the means to deliver them, and a loathing for America. That regime is headed Kim Jong-Il, a certifiable megalomaniac, and that makes perfect sense.

As F.A. Hayek pointed out, socialism facilitates the rise of the ruthless. Women would be better off reading Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom than Ms. Jelinek’s opus on Abu Ghraib. For their part, the Nobel committee should write a book or an oped piece instead of exploiting women to make cheap political points. tRO

copyright 2004 Pacific Research Institute



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