Nicholas Kristof on Evangelicals, China, and Human Rights
The New York Times columnist won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Darfur genocide. He dubbed conservative Christians "the new internationalists" in a 2004 column, one his many that has explored evangelicals and American foreign policy.
What's surprised you about covering evangelicals?
There is a really important change going on within the evangelical community. In general, evangelicals had been a disproportionally isolationist constituency in the country, skeptical of foreign aid and foreign engagement. That is really changing. Increasingly, you're getting a really important evangelical constituency for fighting AIDS, for fighting genocide in Darfur, for fighting sex trafficking.
What misconceptions do evangelicals have about secularists or big media like The New York Times?
The misconceptions and distrust tend to be mirror images. In general, people on all sides of these issues are people of goodwill who are struggling with how best to address tremendous problems of human suffering. The question of abstinence versus condoms has become one of these battlegrounds. And that battle has certainly created a certain amount of resentment and gnashing of teeth on both sides. It is useful for both sides to pause and remember that people on the other side of that debate are genuine people of goodwill who are trying to ease suffering.
What moves you to cover humanitarian crises?
I've been surprised since I got the column that newspapers columns have less persuasive power than most people believe. When I write about an issue that is already out there, that persuades very few people. On the contrary, when I write about an issue people aren't thinking about, I can help put it on the agenda. If I take something like sex trafficking, ...