The Case for Celebrity Diplomats

Nick Kristoff pushes back against this bit of snarky commentary regarding Angelina Jolie’s role as a celebrity spokesperson for refugee issues.

Frankly, if a celebrity isn’t genuinely interested in poverty and is simply trying to get good press, there are better ways to do it. Traveling to Darfur or Congo is dangerous, expensive and uncomfortable, and the outhouses have bats, scorpions and camel spiders. But if a celebrity is willing to put up with such challenges, he or she can get public attention in a way that no one else can. I once was on a panel where Angelina’s eyes filled up as she spoke of Iraqi refugees she had met in Syria; for anybody who was there, that scene was worth 100 of my columns. And ditto for her speech on Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations.

I, too, witnessed this aforementioned moment when Jolie broke done while discussing an Iraqi child she met. It was at last year’s Clinton Global Initiative.