New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof to Speak at RWU


Community invited to hear two-time Pulitzer Prize winner talk about “Moral Obligations and National Interest: Refugees in the 21st Century”

As the nation grapples with proposed travel bans and refugee restrictions, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof will visit Roger Williams University, urging us to remember the times when fear drove Americans to revile newcomers and reject those seeking refuge.

It’s easy to forget, he says, that the United States once interned Japanese-Americans, turned away Anne Frank’s family and subjected Irish Catholics to brutal mistreatment. At the same time, we should keep in mind how much the nation has been strengthened by those who sought refuge here, he says. He recalls the time, in 1952, when an American church welcomed a young man who’d been raised in what is now Ukraine and jailed by the Gestapo. That man was Kristof’s father.

“As the son of a refugee, I think we have a moral obligation to try to help at the margins,” Kristof says. “And I also think, ultimately, immigration strengthens us as a country. There are challenges, and there can be disruptions. But I think we should be a little less vilifying and a little more welcoming.”

The campus community and the public are invited to spend an evening with Kristof – a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner – as part of the President’s Distinguished Speaker Series at RWU, which is exploring the global refugee crisis in a year-long series titled “The Quest for Refuge.”

RWU President Donald J. Farish says he hopes Kristof’s message about leading a meaningful life resonates with students.

A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

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