The Misuse of Historical Reputation

The Misuse of Historical Reputation

We are all seeing the increase of a worrisome trend. Political entities are increasingly using their historical reputation as a “currency” to achieve political ends today. Organisations that can point to good and noble deeds committed in the past are cashing in this virtue to push specific agendas today, a completely different era than the actions referred to. Mainstream American organisations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are prime examples of this. The ACLU can point to many cases of principled defence of liberties throughout its history. Today however, their actions are more clouded. They haven’t shown that they are carrying the mantle of principled defence of liberty any longer. Similarly, the SPLC may have fought against real oppression and discrimination in the past, but today they are clearly a partisan political group using their amassed virtue as currency to amass legitimacy.

“We are the party of Lincoln” Republicans often say. This is another example of using past deeds for favor-seeking in the present time. Both Republicans and Democrats do this regularly. Another prime example is the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, Alfred Nobel decided to let politicians control the committee that awards the prize. They have shown repeatedly that they are not above using it for political ends. Many truly reputable, noble and virtuous people have received the award throughout its history. Unfortunately, we have seen that it has several times gone to less deserving people, or even people that shouldn’t have received it at all. This trend has seen a sharp uptick in recent times.

More and more, politicians or political organisations and institutions have had the award bestowed upon them. Barack Obama, The European Union, Al Gore and so on. The award to Obama “forced” him to come to Norway to receive it, allowing for multiple photo ops for Norwegian politicians and those with political connections. These slimy people could then intertwine themselves with Obama’s perceived virtue. The EU award certainly helped several Norwegian politicians to land lucrative jobs with European institutions, even though Norway isn’t a member state. Al Gore receiving the peace prize is a clear attempt at virtue signalling, transforming the peace price into a social justice award and a clear violation of Alfred Nobel’s will. The founding document of the Nobel Peace Prize has clearly laid out criteria for bestowing the award, social justice is not one of them.

What does this lead to? It clearly devalues historical accomplishments. It also allows the propagation of very questionable policies today on the back of past accomplishments. Many people that aren’t particularly up to speed on the daily goings on of the political realm continue to bestow unquestioning moral and financial support of such organisations. Those in charge of the change in direction of the core mission have done very well for themselves. They have successfully hijacked respected vehicles for good into tools for their own political ends. When we take into consideration the lamentable condition of the political debate, this certainly isn’t going to help put things on the right track anytime soon.





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