THE SEVENTH ABDELLA CENTER FOR ETHICS LECTURE · 2010
Pulitzer-Winning Reporter Captivates Capacity Crowd
A standing-room-only crowd in the Coaches Pavilion gymnasium at Saint John’s High School heard New York Times journalist David S. Rohde speak Nov. 9, 2010, about his kidnapping in 2009 by the Taliban, his family’s response to it and the ethical challenges they faced.
In his talk, part of the high school’s Abdella Center for Ethics lecture series, Rohde said his captivity in Afghanistan and Pakistan resulted from poor ethical choices, both on the part of the kidnappers and himself. He said a “crisis of ethics” in journalism, politics, business and other fields lies at the root of many of the world’s problems, including heightened partisanship and mutual suspicion among American politicians.
“In a world of extremes, it’s ethical to be moderate,” he said, criticizing those who exploit lies and misunderstandings to create hatred. “The ends do not justify the means.”
The evening began with a welcome from Michael Welch ’78, headmaster of Saint John’s; a student reflection by Sean R. Keeley ’11; and Christian and Muslim peace prayers, in English and Arabic, read by Nasser Eledroos ’12 and Benjamin A. Gowaski ’11. By coincidence, the two prayers — one of which was the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi — were the prayers Mr. Rohde and his wife, Kristen Mulvihill, said every day during his kidnapping.
After the lecture, Rohde answered questions from Saint John’s students.
Rohde was part of a 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning team of reporters covering the war in Afghanistan for The New York Times. In 1996, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting for the Christian Science Monitor in the former Yugoslavia, where he was the first journalist to write about the genocide at Srebrenica, Bosnia. His book “Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe’s Worst Massacre Since World War II,” was published in 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He and his wife wrote a book about their ordeal, “A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides,” published by Penguin in 2010.
School administrators estimated that about 1,100 students, faculty and guests attended the lecture.
More about David Rohde
Read his six-part newspaper series about being kidnapped by the Taliban: Parts 1-3 -- Parts 4-6 -- Question and Answer Session
Watch his interview with Charlie Rose on PBS.
Find his new book at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
Photo at top by Francis Doyle. Photos at right by Raúl Laborde.