The rap against the President is that he has done nothing to deserve the prize, that talk does not constitute action. But talk "and not just talk, but the way it is conducted, its demeanor "is action. It sets a tone, it creates an arena in which action takes place, and the kind of action that occurs is largely a creature of the tone that is set.
This is the point the Nobel officials have been trying to drive home to a media industry that is intent on heightening conflict and thereby impeding the resolution of conflict. In other words, the prize has been given to Barack Obama for doing "and doing is the operative word "exactly the opposite of what the media do.
The President has been toning down conflict, modulating discourse, dialing down the way in which we address problems. He has been doing the opposite of what Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis recently called spinning up areas of disagreement. If this is not doing something, then our definition of action is prehistoric.
What the media define as action proceeds, for better or worse, from an environment created by language and the way language is used. Before the Nazi tanks rolled into Poland a propaganda machine had spun up "to use Supt. Weis`s words "German anger over the retaliatory Versailles peace treaty and Germany`s reduced circumstances. That was action. The tanks were merely the consequence of that action.
But today`s press would have us believe that there was no action until those tanks rolled. Hence the questions about whether the President has done anything. He has changed the tone of our conversation with the world. He has repeatedly called for civil discourse, for respect for each other when we differ, for moderation. If that is not action, what is?
The premise of the debate over whether he deserves the prize is essentially barbaric because it presupposes that action is something that occurs spontaneously, and it implies that action is not directly shaped by the uses of language that precede it and give birth to it. In other words, it presupposes that birth is not an action.
Instead of listening to one extremist after another overheating the air we should be talking about the great Swiss psychiatrist Alice Miller, who so cogently made the case in book after book that verbal as much as physical violence turns children into the kind of adults who abuse their fellows and make war. President Obama won the prize for taking action against the root cause of violence, which is the kind of extremism hate radio encourages. And it is for this reason that media extremists and their straw horses have responded so vehemently. They recognize an attack on their culture when they see it. They know the President has struck at the roots of violence.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org).
He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.