Nicholas Kristof

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is an American journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.

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NicholasKristof170 karma

I'll never forget Tiananmen. I was terrified as bullets whizzed over my head. My notebook was stained with my sweat from fear. And that night I saw a level of courage that i've never seen surpassed. there were rickshaw drivers who would drive toward the soldiers and pick up kids who'd been shot and drive them to the hospital. they drove toward me, tears streaming down their cheeks, so that i as a foreign reporter could see the carnage. I was awed by their guts.

NicholasKristof167 karma

Good question, and one I've wondered about. But first, i wouldn't dis the 22-year-olds. There's no silver bullet, but lots of silver buckshot. And i've seen 20-somethings make a difference, just as I've seen govt aid do so -- or, sometimes, fail. As to the question of writing about foreigners, the conundrum is that frankly there's not a lot of interest in global poverty or Congo or South Sudan or Lesotho or whatever the issue may be. And I want to get people to read and make a difference. So I look for ways to get more oomph and attention to issues i care about. One is my annual win-a-trip contest. Another is doing videos and photos. Another is finding the most compelling anecdotes possible. But yet another is finding some American bridge character who will make the issue more relevant or accessible to my audience. I don't do that all the time, but is it a way to get more people to care about global issues? absolutely.

NicholasKristof118 karma

Lots of folks are wringing their hands at the turmoil in the middle east. I think that's really premature. this is the second inning of a long ball game. as for the video protests, i think it was less about the video per se and more about politics -- and demography. my last column was on the issue: Explaining the Prophet

As for the funniest story, when I was a student living in Cairo studying Arabic, I remember my first Arabic conversation. A man asked me Ismak eh? -- which means "what's your name." so i said "ismi nick" -- "my name is nick." he looked horrified and ran away. Turns out that "nick" in arabic means "fuck." Worst of all, it's the imperative form. My name has caused problems in the Arab world ever since.

NicholasKristof92 karma

Definitely one horse-sized duck. Then I'd distract it with some cracked corn and, as it gobbled it up, I'd jump on its back and take it for a flight. I'm too poor to afford a private plane, so a personal horse-sized duck would be a nice alternative.

NicholasKristof90 karma

my first hip hop album is being released next week. On NPR....

NicholasKristof85 karma

yes, i do. i think the critics of sweatshops are right in their criticisms, and on top of those problems some of those factories also have environmental issues (e.g. dump pollution in a river). But the big need in poor countries is jobs, jobs, jobs. And garment factories provide those jobs, often to women who don't have a lot of other alternatives. i remember a mother in indonesia telling me that her dream for her son was that he work in a sweatshop. My wife's native area in China, taishan, has been transformed by sweatshops, and women have benefited in particular. In Africa the big problem is that there aren't enough factories. I know it's not a popular view, but i think that the one thing worse than being exploited by a foreign investor is being jobless.

NicholasKristof84 karma

Cupla things. First and most important, there has to be much more pressure on police and prosecutors to go after pimps, not just the girls they traffic. It's outrageous that a 15-year-old girl is arrested for prostitution and treated as a criminal, while the cops don't try to go after the pimp. Look, arresting a pimp and proving the case against him is tough, but in the last few years some prosecutors have shown it can be done. And that's the way to change their incentives and send them back to peddling drugs rather than teenage flesh. so lean on your local police and prosecutors, or start a petition on or work with others in your community.

i also think we need to change our norms. wife-beating used to be considered funny, and now it's recognized as criminal. likewise, teenage prostitution is considered sexy or desirable or whatever, rather than a modern echo of slavery -- which is what it is. there also are some great organizations in this space, working to end trafficking at home and abroad. support them!

NicholasKristof71 karma

Sure,i see things that are ugly. but side by side with the worst of humanity, you usually find the very best. twice this year, i've been in the nuba mountains of sudan, where the government is bombing and starving its people. It's horrific to see kids starving. i feel enraged by the human capacity for evil. but i also see ordinary farmers sharing their little food, even when they're hungry, with their neighbors. i see them taking risks to protect neighbors -- or to protect me. so i manage to come back from genocide in darfur or mass rape in congo or famine in nuba mountains actually feeling better about humanity. i've seen the worst that humans can do to each other, but mostly i'm inspired by the courage and decency and goodness that so many ordinary people summon in those circumstances.

NicholasKristof65 karma

I have the most interaction with Gail Collins, because she also works in the NY headquarters and comes in regularly. David Brooks and several of the others are in DC and don't come to NY so much, and Paul Krugman is in Princeton, so I see them maybe once a year or so.

I sometimes email Tom Friedman to make sure we don't both end up in the same obscure place at the same time. And when Paul Krugman and I were on the same days, we once inadvertently denounced Pres Bush for the same obscure offense, so it looked as if we were colluding. After that we sometimes gave each other a head's-up about what we were doing to avoid that happening again -- we colluded to avoid the appearance of collusion.

NicholasKristof48 karma

i take flak about israel, but i take flak on lots of issues and it doesn't really bother me. when you've had warlords and militias hold you at gunpoint in the jungle, criticism in tweets doesn't seem so bad.

I do think that one unhelpful thing about lots of Web commentary is that it is more about building heat than light. i think those of us in the opinion gig can try to acknowledge opposing views and be respectful even of views we disagree. I should do a better job at this; i'm at fault in getting on my high horse, too.