Opposition for Opposition’s Sake? Thomas Friedman Gets a Pie in the Face (w/video)
[social_buttons]As if on cue, the kind of oppositional tactics used by radical environmentalists at a few Earth Day 1970 events that I just wrote about, emerged on Earth Day 2008 when Thomas Friedman took a pie in the face at Brown University [jump to video]. Friedman, of the New York Times and author of the bestselling The World is Flat, was ambushed just as his Earth Day talk on the politics and economics of global energy use had begun.
The action, as well as the ensuing discussions over at the blogs It’s Getting Hot in Here, and the Huffington Post, underscore the longstanding divide within the environmental movement between those who believe we should work within the system to address our most pressing environmental issues, and those who believe that the system itself is the cause of the environmental problems.
From the Brown Daily Herald:
“A female audience member ran on stage last night and threw a green pie at New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who had just begun a lecture on environmentalism in Salomon 101. The woman had been sitting in the south side of the auditorium’s front row when she pulled the pie out of a Brown Bookstore plastic bag that had been tucked in a red backpack and leapt out of her seat.
At the same time the woman threw the pie, a male accomplice seated a few rows back ran down the aisle and onto the stage, throwing small pamphlets explaining the actions into the crowd.
…The pamphlets thrown by the male accomplice identified the pair as the “Greenwash Guerillas,” who wrote that they were acting “on behalf of the earth (sic) and all true environmentalists.”
One side of the pamphlet contains an excerpt from a September 2006 review of Friedman’s book, “The World is Flat,” written by Raymond Lotta for the journal “Revolution,” which styles itself as the “Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.” The review is highly critical of Friedman, who the review claims cannot see his own errors while “seated in the business class of his analytical jetliner.”
The other side contains five bullet-points explaining why “Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face,” which include reasons like “his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet,” and “for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged.”
The pamphlet declares “Thomas Friedman’s ‘Green’ as fake and toxic to human and planetary health as the cool-whip (sic) covering his face.”
Personally, I think it was a pretty bush-league maneuver. And watching the video, I feel bad for Friedman as a human being, regardless of how I feel about his politics. Running time is 1:39.
[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/sv6nvMUq10U” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]
I found one comment at It’s Getting Hot in Here particularly poignant, it reads:
“Had you stayed and listened to the speech, you would have learned that Friedman has one of the most comprehensive characterizations of the challenge than I’ve heard in a long time. He spoke about the scale of climate change, global justice and petro-dictatorships, biodiversity loss, energy poverty (i.e. global inequality), and the need for conservation. In fact, he directly addressed most of your complaints, making you come off as reactionary and uninformed. Of course Friedman has major flaws, but if your intention was to start discussion about them, you failed. Instead, you’ve started a discussion on the inappropriateness of your tactics, and left everyone confused as to what you were trying to say.”
See also: “Crazy Acts or Civil Disobedience” :: Green Options (7/2007)
Photo: Charles Haynes