Why Thomas Friedman?

FriedmanBy Deanne Kapnik, Director of Special Events and Projects

With The Power of Place as a guiding theme for our programming for the next couple of years, the staff agreed that Thomas Friedman could prompt important dialogue around this theme, as well as to propel us into new, exciting programming.

Thomas Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter and columnist. He has written more than twelve hundred columns, received three Pulitzer Prizes and authored six books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World is Flat.

His current position is the New York Times’ Foreign Affairs columnist. In describing his current position at the Times, Friedman wrote:

“I tried to do two things with the column when I took it over (1995). First was to broaden the definition of foreign affairs and explore the impacts on international relations of finance, globalization, environmentalism, biodiversity, and technology, as well as covering conventional issues like conflict, traditional diplomacy, and arms control.Second, I tried to write in a way that would be accessible to the general reader and bring a broader audience into the foreign policy conversation—beyond the usual State Department policy wonks.”

We at the Mizel Museum recognize that not everyone agrees with Friedman. We are hosting him because he is an important figure in our culture, and what we aspire to is good conversation. What questions should we be asking? We have researched Friedman – reading his columns and books, reviewing other journalists’ descriptions of his strengths and weaknesses and listening to interviews with him – and have come to really understand who he is in the global picture, and how he can aid in facilitating our navigation of the cultural and global landscape.

Personally, I find comfort in reading his columns, in that I feel I gain a better understanding of the issues in which he’s engaged. Ken Greer, one of Friedman’s closest childhood friends, made a statement that resonated with me. He said, “His work is extremely intellectual, but it takes the form of a conversation with a taxi driver.”

Friedman says of his work, “I’ve always described my books as books about how to think about a problem. Not necessarily the specific detailed answer.”

We’re looking forward to his visit on Sunday, Oct. 26th, and we hope you are too! Tickets are available starting at $60 per person, at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/734011.

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