Inside Russia’s Brutality in Ukraine (with Nicholas Kristof)
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof spent more than a week in Ukraine touring towns recently abandoned by Russian forces and speaking with Ukrainians consumed with grief and trauma. He saw torture chambers, interviewed women who were beaten and raped by Russian soldiers, and learned of Ukrainian kids trafficked to Russia to be put up for adoption. Nick tells Andy that these crimes against humanity should remind us of the stakes as the war continues, and offers ways to help this holiday season.
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Follow Nicholas Kristof on Twitter @NickKristof.
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Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Read about Nick’s trip to Ukraine: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/16/opinion/ukraine-russia-war.html
- See the faces impacted by Russia’s trafficking of Ukrainian children: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/23/opinion/russia-ukraine-children.html
- Learn about the three charities Nick recommends giving to this holiday season: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/26/opinion/charity-holiday-gift-one-acre-fund.html
- Find vaccines, masks, testing, treatments, and other resources in your community: https://www.covid.gov/
- Order Andy’s book, “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response”: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250770165
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For additional resources, information, and a transcript of the episode, visit lemonadamedia.com/show/inthebubble.
Andy Slavitt, Nicholas Kristof
Andy Slavitt 00:18
This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. So how brutal is Russia’s war in Ukraine? That’s going to be the topic of our conversation today with Nic Kristof. Nicholas Kristof is an opinion columnist for the New York Times, who just got back from 9 days in Ukraine, much of its spent in the eastern part of the country, where the Russian troops had recently withdrawn, and where he could start to piece together the stories of what life is like, under Russia control. And, of course, what life is still like, in the parts of Ukraine that are getting bombed so heavily, and are having an infrastructure hit. Look, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to process how to think about this is I hear what you’re about to hear. If you have a neighbor, who’s sick. If you have a neighbor, who can’t get surgery, if you have a neighbor who lost a limb, if you have a neighbor who’s buried under rubble, if you have a neighbor who experiences systematic rape day after day, how would we respond? What would we do? If we had neighbors and whole communities that were without power for much of the day? Neighbors that are without water? What would we do? How much help would we be providing them? How much of an emergency would it be? Well, and the truth is, you know, climate brought some of those conditions to us on occasion. But these things don’t happen to us in the US in much of the world in very large numbers. But they’re happening in Ukraine. Unless you hear the stories of what her daily life is like. We just haven’t lived in a country that by and large, has been under constant attack in the way that Ukraine is right now. The two most significant external attacks on US soil are Pearl Harbor, and 9/11. And both of those sparked wars, they spark changes in the way we live, they spark changes in the way we think they spark changes in how safe we feel. And yet, when we look several 1000 miles away at what’s happening in Ukraine, which was, let’s be very clear, had an unprovoked brutal attack by Russia. The response in the US is much less even there are a lot of people who still think about and talk about people in Ukraine. But it’s less than it’s been in the past. Elon Musk, who is our new arbiter of truth, apparently believes that the Ukrainians need to settle for peace and give up territory. Republican politicians in Congress who will now control one branch of Congress, are on record as saying not another dime, will flow to Ukrainian people. Well, I don’t think these are representative views. People around the world are dealing with high gas prices, the impact of the war impacts on the economy, you know, they do resonate around the world, and they cause problems, they cause inconveniences. But I want to be very clear, high gas prices is not the same thing as systematic rape. Okay? The things we’re putting up with, they may be tough for us to get through, but they are no comparison to the sacrifices of people in Ukraine. And I don’t know any other way. After listening to the third interview, you’re about to listen to then to decide to stand with the people who are giving up everything, their lives, their economies, their relatives, their families, everything, just fighting to keep a sliver of hope that their country and that their democracy. We went out and as Nic points out, as Ukraine goes, so will go many of its neighboring countries, democratic countries, to the west. And so Ukraine is a front line not just for Ukraine, but for the way of life that we have come to appreciate so much that we sometimes take it for granted. And I think it’s hard to get through this interview, which is fascinating and personal, and experiential, and not want to ask yourself, how we cannot do a better job both appreciating and supporting what we’re about to hear. So with that, welcome to this extraordinary interview with Nicholas Kristof from New York Times.
Andy Slavitt 05:37
Nic Kristof, welcome to IN THE BUBBLE.
Nicholas Kristof 05:39
Great to be with you.
Andy Slavitt 05:41
I’ve wanted to have you on for a long time. First of all, welcome back to The Times, you’ve been missed by some of your longtime readers. Tell us a little bit about what caused you away, and also what caused you to come back.
Nicholas Kristof 05:54
So while I had the briefest you know, political career in history, I managed to have an entire political career and not have a single person cast a ballot in my favor, or against me, yeah, this side of Kim Jong, I’m the only person who have had a political career and never had a ballot cast against him. So I’m from Oregon, I left the times to run for governor of Oregon. And then after a long political fight, the Secretary of State said that I was not eligible, it did not meet the residency requirement. And so my campaign ended in February. And that I thought one of the great benefits of very publicly losing your job is that everybody comes at you with different ideas. And so there were all kinds of interesting ideas, but I love journalism, you know, ink is in my blood. And, you know, the reason I went into politics was the same reason I went into journalism, that it’s a platform to try to make a difference on issues that I care a lot about. So here I am.
Andy Slavitt 06:57
Well, your particular form of journalism is, I don’t know if there’s an actual word for it. But I think it’s more active. There’s more call to action in your journalism, I think, maybe unapologetically. I don’t know if you’d agree with that. But there’s always been writing with a purpose.
Nicholas Kristof 07:11
Yeah. People periodically come to me and they say, oh, you know, you know, you’re a great Crusader. I was flinch at that, of course, because as journalists, we’re, you know, we don’t like the idea of being Crusader. But, you know, I spent much of my career as a reporter as a foreign correspondent watching government and brutalized people. And that really moves you and shapes you. And my dad was a World War Two refugee, who is alive because people kind of took risks and, and occasionally bent rules. And that I think, also left a real impression. And I have some of the best real estate in the world on the New York Times op ed page. And if I can use that to shine a light on issues that tend to get neglected and make a difference. You know, that’s fantastic.
Andy Slavitt 07:54
Okay, so you’re back in a pretty big way. You just spent nine days in Ukraine. And I think what you did there was to give us, I think, a sorely needed up close and very personal account of what’s going on with some of the people in Ukraine. Tell us a little bit about what you experienced?
Nicholas Kristof 08:17
Well, I was just, you know, really moved by the unity and commitment of Ukrainians as they go through an awful, brutal cold winter, their determination to fight back against Russia. I spoke to 26 year old woman whose fiancée had been he had signed out, he was a journalist, he signed up on the day of the invasion, to go to war. He was then killed in May. And at that point, his fiancée, this young woman signed up herself to be a soldier. And I met her near her base in eastern Ukraine. And I asked her, you know, why are you? Why are you here? And she said, you know, they killed the man I love. Where else can I be? And I, I ran into variations of that so much in a way that really inspired me I talked to a young man who was a soldier or was abandoned is dead in, in the spring, spent two days crawling back to his lines. He lost a finger on his right hand and he lost his entire left arm at the shoulder. Now he’s recovered, he’s getting a prosthesis right now. And he is determined to go back to the front with his prosthetic arm, you know, maybe especially coming from a country that is so polarized and so divided to see Ukraine, both suffering so much, and so determined to hold his own against Russia really left me pretty moved and pretty inspired and deeply hoping that the US continues to support Ukraine and their struggle.
Andy Slavitt 09:59
You spent some time in some of the cities in the east, that the Russians had recently been pushed back from an abandoned? What did you learn about how this war is being prosecuted by what you saw in these towns that the Russians had abandoned?
Nicholas Kristof 10:17
So I think there’s a misperception amongst young Americans who were feeling fatigued by support for the war that this is two armies fighting it out. And, of course, that is happening at one dimension. But you go to these areas that had until recently been occupied. And, you know, I saw torture chambers, I talked to people who had been tortured, I talked to an incredibly courageous woman who had been brutally beaten, she was raped every day, she was, you know, threatened with executions, her husband was beaten and tortured at the same site to put more pressure on her. And she worked in the gas company in her account of Islam. And finally, the Russians had to stop torturing her and let her go because they needed her to get the gas working in Islam. And at that point, she said, look, I’m not going to go unless you also release my husband. And so the Russians released her husband as well. And, you know, that kind of courage and determination, and the evil of that torture and rape and brutalization that was, I think, quite common in those Russian occupied areas, was, was really striking. And I think the other thing that we’re really just beginning to learn about in those Russian occupied areas, is how often Russian officials took Ukrainian kids and took them back to Russia, or to Russian occupied Ukraine. By Ukrainian count, there are 11,000 Plus kids, Ukrainian kids, who have been just traffic back to Russia, in some cases put up for adoption. I talked to a grandma whose young child was the mother was killed, and the child was taken to a Russian controlled area, and was about to be put up for adoption when she managed to get him back. And I talked to two moms who had sent their kids off in August to what was supposed to be a brief summer camp. And those two kids, both 12 years old, are now in Russia. And they have been unable so far to get their kids back. You know, this is not normally how people fight wars. These are crimes against humanity. And they should remind us of the stakes as the war continues.
Andy Slavitt 12:41
I want to let people know also that there are photographs of many of the people you’ve just described in the New York Times pieces, because it’s useful not only to read about them, but to see their faces of the folks who describe it when a big break it into two pieces. To help us understand this, it’d be good to start with the Russians seem to be entering the stage of the war, where they’re now sending missiles indiscriminately into residential areas. They’re attacking the electrical grid and the water supply and other infrastructure, essentially, for no tactical military advantage, but to increase the suffering of Ukrainian people. How are Ukrainians holding up in general, in the face of all of this?
Nicholas Kristof 13:32
So this is, of course, not a new Russian tactic. Putin did the same thing in Chechnya, he did the same thing in Syria, for example. And in those cases, that strategy kind of worked. You create enough misery and Aleppo, you bombed enough hospitals and schools, and people just finally give up, they just wanted over. So far, it seems to be failing in Ukraine, he can make people suffer, but he can’t make people give up. And that will and determination, if anything, I think has grown as people, you know, feel that this enemy is not the Russia that they remember, or maybe the, you know, the Russian army that some of them had served in, in the past. Many of them have relatives in Russia. But this feels like something alien and threatening and has made them you know, more determined than ever to try to fight back. I mentioned this young man, the soldier who lost an arm and is now going back to the front. His wife thought he was nuts. I mean, he you know, you’ve, you’ve given your arm for your country, how can you possibly go back and fight again, but when Russia bombed Kyiv and the lights went out? Then she kind of understood she said, okay, you know, I see why you’re doing this. And I think that Putin will be able to make Ukrainian suffer a really horrible winter. But I don’t think that he’s going to break that will and that resolve. And meanwhile, you certainly sense that Russian will and resolve is under great strain.
Andy Slavitt 15:11
I want to go to a quick break, and come back and talk about how we in the US and Western Europe ought to be reacting to something what you learned. We’re back with Nic Kristof. It’s just got to be incredible out of body experience to be in the middle of a war zone and be back here in the US. You wrote about and just talked about war crimes, human trafficking, rape and sexual violence against women, children being orphaned right in front of their eyes and indeed trafficked. And as you said, this is reminiscent of how Russia has operated inside of Syria and Chechnya, a decade and several decades ago. How should all of that color thinking of the NATO countries in its commitment to Ukraine?
Nicholas Kristof 16:20
So I think that, above all, we have to understand that this is not a normal conflict. And this is not just a military struggle. But it is one in which, you know, Putin is I think, trying to do to Ukraine, what he did to Syria. And it becomes important to recognize that it’s not so much that we’re doing a favor to Ukraine when we provide arms. But Ukraine is doing a favor to us, when it degrades Russia’s army, when it leaves Russia’s army at a point where it’s not going to be able to invade Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania or other NATO countries, and Ukraine is suffering greatly for its willingness and bravery in challenging Russia, I think we absolutely should support it. And I think we also need to recognize that, you know, there’s a lot of talk among some of the same people who are worrying of supporting Ukraine, about the importance of supporting Taiwan, visa vie, China. If you want to avoid a war in the Taiwan Strait, and support Taiwan, then one way of doing that is to send a really strong message to Xi Jinping that if you invade a neighboring country, that you will pay an enormous price of the world will support the party that has invaded. So I think that Ukraine is also in some sense, I hope sending a message to Xi Jinping to rethink any plans he may have for putting pressure on Taiwan.
Andy Slavitt 17:55
Well, I want I do want to talk about some of the domestic political aspects of this was what you just described, sounds, to me a lot like a Reagan esque kind of policy. And so I want to talk a little bit about how modern day Republicans are facing things. But before I do, you know, just the puzzle of supporting Ukraine is getting more complex, as well, the country is supposedly running short of weapons, particularly the kind of weapons that it can most make use of the US, for various reasons, doesn’t have a lot of the type of weaponry that Ukraine needs right now. And some of the weapons that they want, the US is reluctant to supply because they can reach into Russia. And that represent an escalation of the war in any sense of what the best options are here.
Nicholas Kristof 18:46
So in general, I think the Biden administration has walked that fine line very well of supporting Ukraine, but trying to avoid any kind of escalation or American involvement, or things that would strike on Russian soil that might lead Putin to be more likely to use a tactical nuclear weapon, for example, or to strike Poland or Romania or other NATO countries. It does seem to me that in negotiating that really fine balance that we could probably supply Ukraine with somewhat better weaponry. And that it should be, you know, Ukraine that that uses it. But for example, going after the Black Sea Fleet is, I think something that would be incredibly useful for Ukraine. It’s not actually on Russian soil. And so there are some cases where I might be a little more willing to, to provide longer range weaponry to Ukraine, but it’s really, you know, the question is, of course, you know, is there a chance that, that Putin will escalate in a nuclear way and if he does use a tactical nuclear weapon, then how do we respond and then how does he respond? And it’s really hard to figure out how that is escalation ladder would unfold?
Andy Slavitt 20:01
Well, there certainly is a possibility that we’ll use at least tactical nuclear weapons. And I think the planning for that, as you said, is very complex. Let’s talk about not the costs to the people of Ukraine, which are, of course, the gravest costs. Let’s talk about the costs that are being considered in this country, the cost of supporting the war, because I want to get a little bit into the politics now. You know, we have a new Republican majority coming into the house and narrow one, but with some pretty outspoken members of the Republican Party who are talking, you know, in various degrees, some are saying things like, we need accountability for the 10s of billions of dollars that we’re spending on weapons that have just been sent over. Fine. There’s others like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who said things like, you know, we’re not going to spend another penny. But it’s very clear that Republicans are feeling much more emboldened these days to speak out against supporting the war. And, you know, think the situation is probably a little bit better in the UK and in some countries in Europe, but they’re seeing some of that as well. How do you think about keeping up maintaining commitments such as the US to something that’s so far away? And that, you know, absent your reporting, doesn’t have a real face to what’s going on?
Nicholas Kristof 21:20
Well, I mean, as always, there are elements of that Republican argument that, you know, are perfectly legitimate, of course, we want to track weapons, and we don’t want them being sold in the black market. And, you know, of course, we don’t want to give Ukraine a blank check forever. And, you know, at some point, we may want to encourage them to negotiate. But right now, I mean, they have been invaded, the Russia still occupies something like 17% of Ukraine, and Russia is violating all the laws of war and committing crimes against humanity by trying to destroy the Ukrainian electrical grid trying to leave Ukrainians without heat without running water. And the notion that, you know, at this point, we just back off seems a violation of every moral commitment and, and, you know, likely to increase insecurity and in the region as well.
Andy Slavitt 22:23
So why should we care? I mean, if I’m a constituent of Marjorie Taylor Greene, so why should I care that people in Ukraine are suffering?
Nicholas Kristof 22:29
So I think we have both values and interests at stake. And, you know, there are a lot of times I’ve argued, on the basis of values that we need to, you know, stop the genocide in Darfur, or whatever it may be. And here, again, we have, you know, millions people who are suffering, we have children who are being trafficked, we have people who are being raped in Russian occupied areas. And it seems to me that there is a values based reason for standing up for Ukraine. But I suspected the argument that we’ll get more currency with those Republicans in Congress is the interest based ones. And look at the considerable cost. We have sent American forces to Estonia, to Poland, to Europe, because we’re concerned about a Russian invasion. And, you know, at no cost in American blood, and a fairly modest cost in American treasure. We have […] or Ukraine has vastly degraded the Russian military in ways that protect our troops and protect Europeans. And again, if I tried to think about what could really go terribly wrong for the world over the next 10 or 15 years, I think it would be a war between China and the US, probably sparked in the Taiwan Strait, possibly in the South China Sea. I think that what has unfolded in Ukraine, to surprise Putin by the degree to which the world rallied around Ukraine and impose economic sanctions on Russia, for example. And I think that message does reach Xi Jinping as well. I think that, you know, the more we support Ukraine and impose costs on Russia, I think that does reduce the risk of a cataclysmic conflict over Taiwan with China.
Andy Slavitt 24:13
Yep. You know, there is something that in national security circles has talked about as the porcupine strategy, which is make it too expensive and too painful. I think it’s safe to say we failed to do that to prevent the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is making it expensive. But I think about the sentiment in America and I think about your comment about values and I think about your comment about our interests. And I recently rewatched one of my very favorite movies, the darkest hour for those who haven’t seen it, I’m sure everybody who listens to the show has seen it because the show talks about Churchill a lot, but I was reminded at how many people really wanted to appease in the name of peace. It wasn’t just Chamberlain it was the king of course. It was many people at Churchill was alone at some point of time, were virtually alone in saying, Look, if we go down fighting, we will reemerge again, if we appease Hitler, like the rest of Europe is our long and rich history of our country is done. And we’re going to do no worse by fighting. And history, of course, seems very much like it was often that to happen that way, because we read about it. And so, you know, you forget the struggles. And of course, it’s to say nothing of the US attitude during World War Two, how much people want just no part of this. This is what Zelenskyy is up against, just said, What will seem to be an unrelenting pressure to compromise. I’m curious to coming out of this winter, whether or not the pressure is gonna grow so strong, that we will end up at a situation like this.
Nicholas Kristof 26:00
You mentioned Churchill. And, you know, it struck me that driving around Ukraine, that 24 hour gas station convenience store is we’re selling biographies of Churchill, you know that has been internalized by Ukrainians as well. And I think they see it is also their finest hour. My guess is that Ukraine will continue to make gains on the battlefield, that Russia is going to continue to see economic challenges economic weakness at home, and that the pressure may be rather greater on Russia than we perceive that Russia operates in this discontinuities. And we don’t have a good sense of the data. But I suspect that Ukraine may more clearly be gaining ground by next spring that may ease that kind of pressure. In general, I, you know, I don’t think we should be calling on Ukraine to negotiate away part of eastern Ukraine. Crimea seems to me a little bit different that only, you know, became part of Ukraine in the 1950s. And I can imagine some kind of a ceasefire in which there is a sort of a frozen conflict. And Russia continues to occupy Ukraine without any international recognition of legitimacy of that, and Ukraine continues to claim that, but people aren’t firing shots at each other over that border, that, that kind of that if the nature of that frozen conflict were to move to Ukraine, that might be a reason to kind of pause at that point. But not while Russia is still holding on to so much Ukraine and behaving we presume, in incredibly brutal ways and occupied Ukraine.
Andy Slavitt 27:46
I want to take one more break and come back with Nic Kristof and do something really quite fun and quite meaningful that I think you’re gonna really enjoy want to listen in for. Okay, we’re back for the final segment with Nic Kristof, they can do something that is credibly, admirable, incredibly useful. And that is, it’s something we’ve talked about the beginning of the show a little bit, just with all the pain in the world. And all the horror stories. People want to know many people, many, many good people wonder what can I do about it, and you put together some ideas for gift giving this holiday season, that I think everybody is gonna want to hear, I think this is the best gift giving list out there. So tell us about this list, about this annual gift giving guide. And why you do it each year.
Nicholas Kristof 28:56
So you know, frankly, Andy sort of started with, you know, in my home, you know, we were trying to figure out what do we give each other. And, of course, you know, basically, we have what we want. And so we began to give gifts in each other’s name to causes that we really cared about and that seemed to be making a real difference. And then people kept reaching out to me and asking me, you know, what nonprofits I recommended, and it always frustrated me that I think so many Americans, you know, they make money intelligently, and they give it away. It kind of unintelligently you know, somebody phones them and mentions, you know, children with cancer or whatever. And they pledged some amount of money rather than relying on real evidence. And so I began putting together a list of really evidence based nonprofits doing heroic work, whose work I had seen on the ground.
Andy Slavitt 29:49
This year, you’ve got, I think, four recommendations, and you had a first choice if someone was going to make one gift to one organization. Tell us about what that organization, what they do?
Nicholas Kristof 30:01
So one acre fund helps farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, other countries in the region, improve their output. And it starts with the idea that, you know, farmers tend to be low income folks. And often they don’t have access to fertilizer and seeds that can do better. And if you help them, improve their crops and improve their harvest, then they can eat better, they can feed their kids, they can send their kids to school, and it has a transformative impact. It’s incredibly cheap. And this year, that’s particularly important because, you know, so many countries relied upon grain from Russia, or Ukraine, and often fertilizer from Russia and can’t get it. And so food prices are rising, malnutrition is rising. And so this group, the One Acre Fund, you know, $25, is enough to help a particular household, and on average, they increase their farm output on the land in question by 45%. That’s transformative.
Andy Slavitt 30:59
That’s transformative. The money goes directly to farmers.
Nicholas Kristof 31:01
That’s correct. Yeah, it goes through, you know, in the form, often of seeds or fertilizer and guidance about how to grow crops and use water more efficiently, things like that.
Andy Slavitt 31:12
Okay, so tell us about vision to learn, which is your second charity.
Nicholas Kristof 31:15
So one of the things that we’ve learned is that there are an awful lot of kids, especially in early grades in school, who need glasses, and middle class kids and affluent kids, if they need glasses, they get glasses, but low income kids often don’t. And they struggle in school. As a result, they can’t see the board, they get behind. And you know, if in third grade, you can’t read, you know, your long term prospects are not great, you’re more likely to drop out of high school, you’re more likely to end up in a juvenile detention, where you finally will get an eye exam and will get glasses. And so vision to learn is based on going to low income schools and making sure that every kid who needs glasses actually gets those glasses. And then when things go wrong, when they break, they get a replacement pair. If wearing glasses is stigmatized in that school, they bring in athlete’s to say how cool it is to wear glasses. And it has been studied in robust ways and dramatically improves the outcomes of low income kids.
Andy Slavitt 32:16
The third charity recognized I have a particular interest in because I spent a number of years in Minnesota, which has the worst achievement gaps, educational achievement gaps in the US. So I was really interested in hearing about this third organization, I think it’s called Success for All.
Nicholas Kristof 32:31
That’s right. And, you know, we have all these education warriors in the country. And so often we’ve operated on hunches. And, and meanwhile, it’s hard to think of a group that has a more robust evidence base than success. For All, there have been more than 50 studies about its impact. It’s operated in schools around the country. And it uses all kinds of approaches. But tutoring, especially of reading, especially in the early grades is central to its work. And it just it dramatically improves the outcomes for again, these are typically low income kids who are not getting adequately coached at home. And it turns out that if you bring in a tutor and help them read, then that toolbox is, again transformative for their long term outcomes. And really cheap. You know, the question isn’t whether we can afford things like success for all but whether we can afford not to support them.
Andy Slavitt 33:25
You mentioned Big Brothers Big Sisters as well, which I think a lot of people are aware of. It’s a great organization. But I want to speak to the last point because it really brings home the entirety of our conversation, which is actually sponsoring a refugee, which I think you may have mentioned, tracks back a little bit tear history, tell us a little bit about how people can get involved at that level?
Nicholas Kristof 33:47
So I think there are a lot of people who you know, have kind of goodwill toward refugees, and yet don’t really know what to do next. And there’s this group welcome.us, which is modeled on the Canadian approach of having groups who sponsor refugees. And it’s been an incredible success in Canada, it has helped refugees, you know, figure out how to get a job, how to manage the bus routes, how to get an English class is how their kids can adjust. And it’s been fantastic for the sponsors as well. So it’s bringing this kind of a sponsorship model to the US and coaching groups. It can be a book club, it can be a church group, coaching them on how they can adopt a refugee from Ukraine or Afghanistan or wherever it may be, and supporting them as they do it. And, you know, Andy, as you say, it’s kind of personal to me, because my dad was an East European refugee who arrived in this country in 1952. And the help that some of the sponsors in Portland, Oregon provided at that time, that was transformative for the Kristof’s.
Andy Slavitt 34:54
Well, you know, it really does bring the conversation full circle because, you know, there’s this man who ends up being your father, you know, living on the other side of the world, as many, many people were displaced at that point in time, just as many people are displaced today. And, you know, we talk about the numbness you get from the news and the numbness, Syrian refugees and other refugees, soon to be many climate refugees displaced around the world. And this sense of, I really am convinced it’s not just the disparate the news, but the lack of agency, one feels it seeing problems that feel too big to get out and too big to solve. And so I love the fact that you found and I’ve identified a number of organizations that have said, no, these problems aren’t too big to solve. We need to solve them all together. But we could take them on if we if we focus on them and have real purpose.
Nicholas Kristof 35:50
Yeah, the, you know, in the nonprofit world, people say that interventions have a somewhat mixed record of success, but they have this almost perfect record of helping oneself. And there’s something to that.
Andy Slavitt 36:02
The Kristoff, thank you for coming into bubble. Thanks for reporting on your time spent with people in Ukraine, and what some of the lessons are for us to both do our best for the Ukrainian people. And then to overcome some of the things that that we see. And I think this holiday season, I hope we all come at it with a sense of hope and optimism and focus. But the only way that that happens is if we’re doing stuff, not just sit back and watching it happen.
Nicholas Kristof 36:34
Well, thank you for the conversation. And thanks for shining a light on these ways that people can actually help this holiday season make a real difference.
Andy Slavitt 36:54
Hope you enjoyed that conversation with Nick Kristof between the show and the show we did on Friday, which if you haven’t had a chance to listen to talks about what’s going on with the protests in China and zero COVID policy, they’re really two remarkable things to pay attention to. And then Wednesday, we’re going to talk about how what’s happening around the world with COVID and COVID variants are impacting what we’re seeing or not yet seeing here in the US with COVID. And what it could mean, for the year ahead, Katelyn Jetelina, who is sort of become our go to on the show will come and lay it out for us. And then Friday is a deep dive conversation on antisemitism. We’ve seen the antics of the man who calls himself Ye. We’ve seen the antics of the former president and the flirting along the line. And we’ve seen a kind of a growing recognition that anti semitism, while never a thing of the past is certainly a thing of the moment. And that’s going to be quite interesting conversation I’m looking forward to on Friday. So a couple good shows coming up this week. More to follow. We head towards the holidays. I want to tell you that I’m grateful for you listening to the show. I know you can be doing a lot of things with your time as you’re running or walking or whatever you do when you listen to the show. Or maybe you’re just sitting quietly taking notes. I want to thank you and we’ll talk to you again on Wednesday.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.