What are some actual questions that Thomas Friedman has fielded from real women around the world, as chronicled in his true-to-life NYT column?
When I was in Cairo during the Egyptian uprising, I wanted to change hotels one day to be closer to the action and called the Marriott to see if it had any openings. The young-sounding Egyptian woman who spoke with me from the reservations department offered me a room and then asked: “Do you have a corporate rate?” I said, “I don’t know. I work for The New York Times.” There was a silence on the phone for a few moments, and then she said: “ Can I ask you something?” Sure. “Are we going to be O.K.? I’m worried.”
- Thomas Friedman, April 12, 2011
I had just finished a panel discussion on Turkey and the Arab Spring at a regional conference here, and, as I was leaving, a young Egyptian woman approached me. “Mr. Friedman, could I ask you a question? Who should I vote for?”
I thought: “Why is she asking me about Obama and Romney?” No, no, she explained. It was her Egyptian election next week that she was asking about. Should she vote for Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, or Ahmed Shafiq, a retired general who served as Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister and was running as a secular law-and-order candidate?
- Thomas Friedman, June 9, 2012
[h/t Joshua Keating]
What is yet more proof of Thomas Friedman’s indispensability to ladies worldwide?
A young Saudi woman wrote an email to Friedman in 2002, not a question but a statement of profound truth. It’s excerpted in Longitudes and Attitudes: “I dream of the day when I become independent and have my own car. I dream of having all my rights as a human being. Saudi women need your pen, Mr. Friedman.”
[h/t Belén Fernández]
What other qualifications does Mr. Friedman possess for dispensing advice to women?
Friedman can empathize with the female predicament because he himself has also given birth. When Friedman’s jaunt to Israel in 2001 was interrupted by the 9/11 attacks, he procured a room at the beachfront Tel Aviv Hilton and went into labor during a late-night walk by the sea: “It was there, massaged by the Mediterranean breeze, that my head started to clear and I finally gave birth to the thought that had been bothering me most: ‘What kind of world are my two girls going to grow up in?’”
What kinds of questions should you not ask Mr. Friedman?
In order to avoid a situation in which your question to Mr. Friedman is thrown back in your face, please do not ask him whether he is aware of “how much the world hates” America. As Friedman tells us in Longitudes and Attitudes, a female Lebanese TV journalist once asked him this at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, prompting the following response: “At that point I nearly lost it. I snapped back: ‘Do you know how much we hate your lack of democracy, do you know how much we hate your lack of transparency, your lack of economic development, the way you treat your women?”
How do I add a lady question of my own for Mr. Friedman?