Thomas Friedman Pied at Brown University

Thomas Friedman, the author and NY Times columnist, was invited to Brown University to give a keynote speech on Earth Day, before a packed auditorium. His talk, titled “Green is the new Red, White and Blue” was about how corporate environmentalism (based on putting a price on the atmosphere, and investing in agrofuels and techno-fixes) can restore America to its “natural place in the global order.” This outrageous neoliberal capitalist propaganda was interrupted with a surprise visit from the Greenwash Guerrillas. After splattering him with two green cream pies, leaflets were thrown to the crowd, stating:

Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face…

* because of his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet

* for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand.

* for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged

* for his pure arrogance.

* as the only way to compensate for the ridiculousness of having this fool speak on Earth Day.

On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists — we, the Greenwash Guerrillas, declare Thomas Friedman’s “Green” as fake and toxic to human and planetary health as the cool-whip covering his face.

In the spirit of true debate and free speech – the Greenwash Guerrillas have challenged Thomas Friedman and all other green capitalists – to a debate duel.

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78 Responses to “Thomas Friedman Pied at Brown University”

  1. 1 Teryn Norris Apr 23rd, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    This is why environmentalism is dead.

  2. 2 Amy Ortiz Apr 23rd, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    This is awesome. I also harbor deep reservations that free market capitalism, which got us into this fix, can get us out of it. Rock on Greenwash Guerrillas

  3. 3 Alisha F. Apr 23rd, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Greenwash Guerillas,

    I am extremely disappointed with your tactics. This is not the way to initiate any high-level debate, change, or be taken seriously as environmentalists pushing for positive change. If that is what it means to be a “true environmentalist,” I am out.

    I highly doubt that Thomas Friedman and “all other green capitalists” will engage in any sort of debate with the Greenwash Guerillas after this lame stunt at Brown. Such action is very disrespectful, ineffective, and lends the entire climate movement (especially youth climate) a terrible name!

    Perhaps a better way would have been to throw him some hardball questions, or even interrupted him if you felt so moved. Throwing a pie in his face and barring any real discussion on the issues at hand was utterly pointless.

    This event was not in my name, as a youth who cares deeply about stopping the catastrophic impacts of global warming, investing in a clean energy society, and protecting our precious natural resources.


  4. 4 kaibosworth Apr 23rd, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Looks like the movement really gained some friends with this one…

  5. 5 Cascadia Brian Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:07 am


    I think you’ll have to elaborate if you want to have a discussion of this…but if what I’m teasing out of your remark is that your suggesting is that Friedman is an admirable post-environmentalist climate crusader, I can only say his track record of recommendations for the planet speaks for itself: he prominently endorsed this expensive and ecologically destructive wars for oil we are in; he embraced biofuels which have been a clear failure and have led to deforestation, starvation, and increased co2 emissions; he is a promoter of the dominant model of globalization which is opposed by people concerned about social justice and environmental health throughout the developing world.

    If that’s the new “post-environmentalism” I’ll take the old. I’d rather be marginalized — as movements for justice have always been — yet agitating for what is *right*, then nouveau, popular with elites, yet utterly wrong-headed.

    Furthermore, I think the targeting of Friedman – who is a signature spokesperson for the global elite – embraces a sort of people power environmentalism that rejects both the “old” top down government environmentalism and the “new” wave of market friendly environmentalism…

  6. 6 xxx Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:08 am

    they forgot his disgusting cheerleading of the war in iraq as “an experiment in democracy building”

    who needs conservatives when you have self-appointed liberal prima donnas like friedman?

  7. 7 greenwashguerrillas Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:11 am

    What’s so wonderful about Thomas Friedman is that there are so many reasons to hate him.

    We focused on climate issues, since he was brought in on Earth Day just a couple days before the start of a “Brown Is Green” conference. (Speak of greenwashing… they literally brought green ivy into the building and onto the stage 5 minutes before he got up to speak) So, perhaps the statement of environmentalism being dead can be witnessed through the “salvation by venture capitalist” phenomena, or by having a Zionist, pro-war, neo-liberal blabbermouth as the icon for Earth Day…

    In any case, no environmentalism, no matter how corporatized and white and greenwashed it may be, can cover the glaring irony in the fact that the very US Military that Friedman so supports is also the largest single emitter of carbon in the world. (But of course, that’s alright as long as they “green” themselves and become a more “energy efficient” mass murderer… making the war machine sustainable is a step in the right direction? And then there’s the BP war machine, and the Monsanto war machine…)

    Turning back to our friend Tom, it’s not from just a climate perspective that you can find fault with Friedman. In fact, his support for US Wars and Israeli occupation make connections that many environmentalists never do. (Perhaps that’s why environementalism is dead?). Connecting War and Warming is a start, but there are many wars and many occupations, abroad and at home.
    What does Zionism and the US proxy colonial settler state of Israel have to do with climate change? How does Zionism stem from Manifest Destiny? How did industrialization facilitate the spreading of colonization and Manifest Destiny? What is this “Green Industrial Revolution” they speak of, how will it repeat and amplify the power dynamics of the last industrial revolution, and who will control the “green economy” that some enviros are fighting for? While we’re speaking of this industrial Green Revolution, what about the last Green Revolution (the change in agriculture that introduced large scale farm equipment, industrial mono cropping, pesticides, and modified seed) that left billions displaced and starving… and laid the groundwork for agrofuels…

    If you don’t know your enemy, you can’t know what you’re fighting for.

  8. 8 Teryn Norris Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Nobody said Friedman is an angel. But to treat such a champion of clean energy with utter contempt “on behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists” is outrageous.

  9. 9 jessejenkins Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:16 am

    This is shameful. Simply shameful. What, what have these “Greenwash Guerrillas” accomplished today? Assuming for a second that the claims about Friedman’s sins are well founded, how does an act like this further any cause? This is probably the least effective tactic I could possibly think of.

    Thomas Friedman is one of the only influential columnists in the country to elevate global warming and our nation’s energy crisis to the spotlight. Whether you agree with his proposed solutions or not, Friedman is one of only a handful (and by far the most notable) who regularly writes about our issues.

    I can’t imagine how pieing anyone in the face will advance the cause of “justice,” “the earth and all true environmentalists,” or anything else, but I would hope that we can all agree that there are plenty truly evil f*cks out there in the world who deserve this treatment far more than Friedman ever could.

    What does this accomplish other than alienating a potential influential ally, as well as probably an entire audience full of people who now likely think the youth environmental movement is made up of thoughtless, self-righteous activists so immature they think pieing someone in the face constitutes a victory? What have you won today, “Greenwash Guerrillas?” Absolutely nothing but the alienation of your potential supporters, damaged relations with a potential influential ally, and the disgust of at least this young activist.

    If this is the kind of activism that characterizes “all true environmentalists” then I quite simply have this to say: f*ck that! I’ll have no part of it. If this is environmentalism, then I’ll gladly let it die, so we can replace it with something more mature, more strategic, and entirely more effective.

  10. 10 jessejenkins Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:42 am

    “If you don’t know your enemy, you can’t know what you’re fighting for.”

    If you can’t see a vision of the future you want to see and inspire others to reach to make it real, you’ll never realize what you are fighting for!

    How are you leading anyone to a more just and sustainable future (I’ll assume you don’t care about the prosperous part that I’d throw in as well) by pieing someone in the face? You may be all self-righteous. Friedman may “deserve” everything you throw at him. But how does this act help – help to create tangible improvements in anyone’s lives; help to empower anyone; help to re-arrange power dynamics?

    Alisha said it all better than I have (I can’t fully articulate myself I’m so saddened, angry and ashamed by watching this video), so I’ll leave it at that.

  11. 11 JP Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I realize that this is a deep and serious issue, but man, that was funny. And I think if we agree to leave it at, ha! that dude got pied in the face, we’re probably all better off than somehow elevating it to a powerful episode in the youth climate movement. Two dudes threw a pie in a guy’s face. Let’s leave it at that.

  12. 12 jessejenkins Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:04 am

    If the two protesters had stayed to listen to Friedman’s speech before assaulting him with whip cream, or perhaps asking a pointed question or two or cornering him for a spirited debate after he exited the stage or any number of other more constructive efforts… sorry, got side tracked there… I’ll start over.

    If the two protesters had stayed to hear what Friedman actually had to say, they would have heard him deride corn ethanol (he said it’s success was due purely to lobbying clout not energy/climate merits) and plug a conservation ethic over rampant “green” consumption. After wiping off the pie and continuing his speech, Friedman said, unless we advance clean energy, efficiency in use and production and “an ethic of conservation,” we’ll simply “get really super-efficient at raping the natural world,” adding that clean, cheap energy can become “a license to buy a Hummer and drive it through the Amazon.”

    The “Greenwash Guerrillas” would have heard him say that, had they stopped to listen or engage in dialog. Perhaps they would not have been satisfied by Friedman’s speech. But hurling words is quite a bit more effective than hurling pies!

    Brown University President Ruth Simmons, who was in attendance, said of the pie-throwing incident that she “didn’t know what the statement was” and thought it was ineffective in addition to being inappropriate. “We really very much defend the right of anybody to contest any speaker’s opinions,” she said. “But nobody here favors assault.”

    (These quotes are from the Brown campus paper, who anyone interested in something of substance should check out.

  13. 13 Cascadia Brian Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:04 am

    The idea that one can actively and explicitly promote clean coal, ethanol, nukes and war with Iraq and still be a “champion of clean energy” is to me as dangerous to the earth, it’s people, and the climate as the fossil fuel industry. Hell, the energy industry itself is supposedly all for saving the earth and is also supporting clean energy all over the place last time I checked their websites, ads in National Geographic, etc.

    We surely can debate effective tactics…but I have to wonder if we would we be having the same disussion if the CEOs of Bank of America, Duke energy, or BP — all of which also claim green credentials while promoting destructive practices — were the target.

    Almuth Ernsting of Biofuelwatch recalls from a Climate Justice conference organized by Friends of the Earth Indonesia and the international peasant movement Via Campesina:

    “A speaker from Sobrevivencia, Paraguay called for action and demonstrations – but to be very clear what we demonstrate for. If we hold up banners saying climate change kills and we want more government action, the very power groups driving the destruction, she warned, will cheer and might give us even more carbon finance or agrofuels. Instead, she suggested, we need to mobilise against the false solutions and for real, meaningful actions that will actually cut emissions and deliver climate justice.”

    It’s nice to think we’re all in this together, self-gratifying to imagiingly hard to the newly green big wigs suddenly share the vision, but the facts on the ground — the descreation of indigenous lands by nuclear waste, the tens of thousands of people starving right now in part due to the argofuels boom, the mountains leveled for new fangled clean coal plants — tell a rather different story that is increas

    It’s hard to face, but those concerned with justice and the planet are now fighting on two fronts: we’ve been able to get a lot of people’s heads out of the sand on global warming being a real threat (even if it requires an Exxon exec getting a pie in the process)…can we be equally committed to geting heads out of the sand in regards to the reality of where the mainstream response is rapidly leading us?

  14. 14 Cascadia Brian Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:07 am

    The idea that one can actively and explicitly promote clean coal, ethanol, nukes and war with Iraq and still be a “champion of clean energy” is to me as dangerous to the earth, it’s people, and the climate as the fossil fuel industry. Hell, the energy industry itself is supposedly all for saving the earth and is also supporting clean energy all over the place last time I checked their websites, ads in National Geographic, etc.

    We surely can debate effective tactics…but I have to wonder if we would we be having the same disussion if the CEOs of Bank of America, Duke energy, or BP — all of which also claim green credentials while promoting destructive practices — were the target.

    Almuth Ernsting of Biofuelwatch recalls from a Climate Justice conference organized by Friends of the Earth Indonesia and the international peasant movement Via Campesina:

    “A speaker from Sobrevivencia, Paraguay called for action and demonstrations – but to be very clear what we demonstrate for. If we hold up banners saying climate change kills and we want more government action, the very power groups driving the destruction, she warned, will cheer and might give us even more carbon finance or agrofuels. Instead, she suggested, we need to mobilise against the false solutions and for real, meaningful actions that will actually cut emissions and deliver climate justice.”

    It’s nice to think we’re all in this together, self-gratifying to imagine the newly green big wigs suddenly share the vision, but the facts on the ground — the descreation of indigenous lands by nuclear waste, the tens of thousands of people starving right now in part due to the argofuels boom, the mountains leveled for new fangled clean coal plants — tell a rather different story that is increasingly hard to ignore.

    It’s hard to face, but those concerned with justice and the planet are now fighting on two fronts: we’ve been able to get a lot of people’s heads out of the sand on global warming being a real threat (even if it requires an Exxon exec getting a pie in the process)…can we be equally committed to geting heads out of the sand in regards to the reality of where the mainstream response is rapidly leading us?

  15. 15 greenwashguerrillas Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:12 am

    The role of the jester in the court room is to act ridiculous, mimicking the royalty’s behavior to crack a joke on them. There is nothing deep about throwing a pie – it’s been done many times before and will happen many times again. But in its symbolic silliness it can reveal truths. hilarious prank or horrifying disgrace? What other lines are drawn?

    When you say “Friedman is one of only a handful (and by far the most notable) who regularly writes about our issues” – what exactly are “our” issues, jesse? Do you mean climate change as in governmental carbon trading bills and feel-good consumerism …or the global Majority World movement that opposes neo-liberalism, that opposes agrofuels and agribusiness, that confronts privitization of common resources, and fights for survival against the waves of neo-colonial occupation and dislocation?
    And whose allies were alienated? Perhaps the same allies that might provide future carbon accounting jobs for the resume-building upwardly mobile activist-soon-to-be-entrepreneur and consultant? Perhaps the big donors funding this up and coming ‘clean energy society’? A clean energy society with vast power differences of wealth and privilege, a society where energy and technology transform and oppression remains intact? A nice “clean” society where cocktail-party civility leads to grant cash flows and career benefits.

    Thomas Friedman was not the only target. His humiliation is beside irrelevent (think of the daily humilition of the toiling millions who cut the sugar cane for ethanol, who are forced off of land for offset plantations, who live next to toxic waste dumps generating electricity and carbon credits, who have lost family members in Tommie’s favorite racist wars).

    No, the target was a certain kind of “green,” a definition of green that uses the feel good rhetoric of “we’re all in this together” and knows whats best for the masses. A kind of “green” that allows a huge university corporation to green its image while inviting war-monger Friedman and a racist governor as their two keynote environmental speakers. (Gov. Carceiri of RI recently signed an executive order to crack down on ‘illegal’ undocumented immigrants, provoking community outrage. Yet he’s all about ‘clean’ energy and is a sure ‘ally’ of ‘the movement’.) Between the two of them, they are defining “clean” and “green” like the Nazis defined “pure” and “Aryan”. The people, and their financial backers, are not our allies. At least, not my allies.

    To be able to work towards any viable REAL solutions, you have to see through the false solutions. These false solutions are not just technologies, but an entire mindset, a neo-colonial society, and an insistence on playing by their rules.

  16. 16 Morgan Goodwin Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    It seems there’s disagreement with the movement. Who would have thought.

    1) I’m glad to see this blog turning into a place for discussion and more than just cheer leading. Clearly there are some thing to work out that won’t be resolved if we pretend we’re all in total agreement.

    2. The messaging and arguments that we might use in the public don’t always make as much sense here (in this semi-public, group centered blog). Saying that Jesse and Friedman support “governmental carbon trading bills and feel-good consumerism” and not the people of this world is simplistic and not going to sway my opinion that a price on carbon is one of the most important steps towards reeling in emissions and consumerism, but not the only step.

    C: I think Jesse brings up a second question that hasn’t been answered yet: What has this accomplished? What were the goals? Were the negative consequences worth risking for some positive, strategic advance?

    Doing a little internet search shows that this got a lot of press, considering how simple it was. Having a big bang-for our buck of activism is important. From the US News and World Report (anyone have a page number from print?)

    “The pamphlets thrown to audience members identified the pair as activists who were acting “on behalf of the earth” and “all true environmentalists” and contained five bullet points explaining why “Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face.” These include “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 pamphlets said Friedman’s idea of “green” was “as fake and toxic to human and planetary health” as the artificial cream on his face.”

    So I’m fairly agnostic on the tactic, but feel like my stance would be “don’t pie unless it has a really clear goal”, and on this I don’t think it measures up. Maybe there’s more to it I don’t know about.

  17. 17 Bill Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    After watching the video I think the headline should actually read: Friedman sort of hit by a couple of people that threw pies at him. I mean, really? I would agree that capitalism has led to many expansionist and oppressive patterns throughout our past(and in the modern day) that must be addressed, but he is not a radical. He in no way should be expected to advocate for any change that works outside of the system. Instead, reformists such as Friedman, and the idea of a cap and trade system to address global warming, or for that matter the successful work in reducing pollution that causes acid rain, are reforms.

    It was a decent attempt to generate attention to the issue through direct action, but I don’t think it was very effective.


  18. 18 Sparki Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Friedman is not part of the solution, he’s part of the corporate media problem that enables business and industry to wreck our planet and justify war and oppression. He’s a greenwashing cheerleader for earth destroying companies and the U.S. war machine.

    Liberals get upset when journalists at ABC plays “gotcha” with Obama and Hillary at a debate, but don’t get upset when Thomas Friedman promotes neo-liberal trade policies that rollback environmental regulations, public health standards and labor standards (to name a few). Stephanopoulos, Gibson and Friedman are cogs in the same machine working to promote false solutions and corporate supremacy.

    I remember watching him on C-Span a few years ago giving a talk on how the invisible hand of the market only being possible because of the iron fist of the military. I then remember on the eve of the war in Iraq, reading his column saying how excited he was about the U.S. bringing democracy to Iraq. He presented the war as obviously a false solution to greater problems going on there, and his cheerleading, along with others at the NY Times, has led us into a terrible quagmire.

    One piece that is missing from the current analysis is how the corporate media is complicit with business and industry in co-opting environmental messages for their profit. Friedman promotes the neo-liberal idea that solutions can only be brought about by and through a global financial system that expands markets and economic growth.

    He’s a greenwashing media cheerleader for the system destroying our planet and people.

  19. 19 Michael Shellenberger Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Hey “Greenwash Guerillas,” “Sparki,” and “Cascadia Brian” — If you guys fancy yourselves such courageous crusaders for the One True Environmental Movement, then why don’t you identify yourselves? If you imagine your act to have been so bold and brave, then why are you hiding behind pseudonyms? As self-appointed spokespersons for the Earth, what are you so scared of?

  20. 20 Phil Mitchell Apr 24th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Watching the video, this action doesn’t feel (to me) like “court jesters”, it feels like an act of violence. It feels like an expression of anger designed to intimidate. Maybe it felt good as an expression of outrage, but I don’t see how it was strategic. Gandhi was way smarter than this.

  21. 21 TheGreenMiles Apr 24th, 2008 at 11:29 am

    What an embarrassment for environmentalists everywhere. This was a complete disgrace.

    Look, do you want to stop global warming or do you want to be “marginalized jesters”? Attention-getting stunts like this only hurt the cause.

  22. 22 Teryn Norris Apr 24th, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Here are just a few examples of how Friedman has continually championed the clean energy movement:

    In the Age of Noah
    What Was That All About?
    It’s Too Late for Later
    The People We Have Been Waiting For
    If I.T. Merged with E.T.
    Did We Do That?
    Save the Planet: Vote Smart
    The Green-Collar Solution
    Who Will Succeed Al Gore?
    Et Tu, Toyota?
    Lead, Follow or Move Aside
    China in Three Colors
    Doha and Dalian

    … The list goes on and on for years. Combined with the fact that his speech actually refuted most of the “Greenwash Guerillas” complaints, it appears that this action was taken out of an embarrassingly deep ignorance.

  23. 23 Jorin Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:03 pm


  24. 24 Sparki Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Michael– I’m hiding under a pseudonym? If you want to know my name look at the blog posted previous to this one, or better yet click on my pseudonym and you can email me. Pretty easy.

  25. 25 Sparki Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    P.S. Michael, why don’t you respond to the content of my post instead of engaging in shallow character assassination about my pseudonym.

  26. 26 Josh Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    As a leader of the green energy movement on my campus, a green-collar jobholder, a youth, and an environmentalist, I am ashamed to be associated with juvenile actions such as these. While I agree that communication is crucial, pie-throwing does not constitute dialogue, and I condemn this stunt in the harshest of terms. If the desire of the Green Guerrillas is to raise any POSITIVE attention to their viewpoints, they have failed miserably. Further, they will raise little attention whatsoever after this.

    I don’t agree with Friedman’s viewpoints myself, but even if he were George W. Bush, he would deserve to be given basic human respect. Working this far outside the system of normal intellectual interaction, you will have no luck advancing your agenda. You have wasted your time, the youth climate movement’s good name, and two good pies.

  27. 27 pied piper Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Never doubt that a small committed group of people with pies can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    -Margaret Meed

  28. 28 kaibosworth Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    This act isn’t nonviolent. This act isn’t empowering (except, probably to the two assaulters). This act accomplishes nothing but branding environmentalists as mere children whose only respons is to throw a hissy fit. This act does not build just solutions. It won’t change Friedman’s views. It’s unlikely to change others’ views. It’s just pointless.

    I disagree with Friedman on many, many things, but no human deserves to be treated as waste. That is true justice. By degrading those you disagree with, you are disregarding their agency, humanity, and ability to grow and change – the dynamic nature of human spirit. You are ignoring the diversity of opinions. Tom Friedman is wrong on a lot of things, and hearing him speak is less than thrilling. But he is a human, and still deserves respect.

  29. 29 Cascadia Brian Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Michael, ditto what scott said on all accounts; this feels like a red herring. brian–at–risingtidenorthamerica–dot–org.

    [As long as theirs beens phones and civil disobedience, people involved in civil disobedience tactics get death threats regularly from the right wing (3 times myself on my personal phone), which is one reason why people don't always post their name and contact information publicly. Furthermore, I think if you go to, well, just about any blog in the world, you'll find that few people post their real names...probably for a variety of reasons, generally an appreciation for the right to privacy. Not sure why it should be against the rules here.]

  30. 30 Aden Van Noppen Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    As someone who attended Friedman’s speech, I can attest to the fact that this action had the exact opposite effect than was intended by the green guerillas. 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.

    Yes, Friedman has a lot of power, and it’s worth questioning him on some of his beliefs, but by throwing a pie at someone, you only make them (and practically everyone who witnesses the event) lose respect for you. Power is real, and in order to make change at the scale and speed needed, we must understand how to work with it and shape it. Tactics like those used by the green guerillas are completely disjointed from the reality in which we are trying to make change.

  31. 31 jennybedellstiles Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I hesitate to weigh in on this discussion because the vigor and ease with which we (this IGHIH blog community) snap at each other. It simply turns me off. These ideas and differences in opinions of tactics, who the enemy is, and what is effective are certainly productive and worthy of this discussion. Yes, we, the youth climate movement, differ in our vision. Like Morgan said, surprise, surprise.

    But that’s not what I’m compelled to comment on.

    I’m weighing in because it bothers me to hear (and see in this video) my beloved community trying to rip each other up. I’m all for disagreement and debate, but guys, can we have a fired up discussion without personally attacking each other? Can we not treat eachother’s opinions and experience with respect? I believe that the rhetoric and tone we use reflect how we think of and treat one another, as well as how we think of and treat our planet. If this is too woo-woo for you, consider the responses of my co-workers.

    I’m sitting here with three other climate movement co-workers who are compelled not to write in and speak their opposition to this recent tactic because they feel that commenting is feeding the fire for a negative debate which is not productive for moving us towards climate solutions (and by that I’m including climate justice as well). They feel that this tactic shows complete disrespect for what many of us have been working towards (gaining credibility and creating dialogue with decision makers). In addition, some of the comments above are snappy, curt, and simply treat others in this dialogue as though their opinions are irrelevant.

    Yes, we the climate movement have different opinions, and that’s great! We can’t solve this thing without a diversity of people and solutions. But what it comes down to, is being respectful. We turn people off with our tactics and our discussion if we’re not. And what’s the point in that?

  32. 32 Phil A. Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I’d rather see these guys pied.

  33. 33 Get Smarter or Lose Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    To quote someone who is as familiar with DC jails as he is the halls of Congress, and could school anyone here in strategic use of civil disobedience:

    “Planet melting/people dying. Must stop them. No time for rhetorical point campaigns.”

    Being pure is good but being effective is better. The question is whether you are going to use Friedman for your purposes, or he is going to use you for his. Because if you don’t, he will. That is your choice. You can ride him as far as he can take us on what he is right about, and then expose him where he’s wrong. Or he will ride you as far as he wants when he gets to the point he is wrong, and asks the world if they want to trust him or trust the wisdom of silly pie-throwing hippies. Read some Saul Alinsky.

  34. 34 sam Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    no one deserved it more.
    except maybe Kissinger.

  35. 35 jessejenkins Apr 24th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Brian, you asked “I have to wonder if we would we be having the same disussion if the CEOs of Bank of America, Duke energy, or BP … were the target.” I for one would still be ashamed of this act, wonder at it’s effectiveness, and prompt such a debate. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been quite as angry, but the question of effective tactics, and what kind of human dignity and respect even our clear enemies deserve is just as valid.

    As Kai says, “no human deserves to be treated as waste.” And as Phil says, “Gandhi was much smarter than this.” So was King.

    Greenwash Geurrillas, if you want to be true revolutionaries, put down your self-appointed “jesters cap,” and think long and hard about effective tactics of resistance.

    Now as to your questions:

    “When you say “Friedman is one of only a handful (and by far the most notable) who regularly writes about our issues” – what exactly are “our” issues, jesse?”

    -By “our issues,” I mean raising the profile of the climate crisis and energy crisis we face as a global community and articulating it with the proper sense of scale. By “our issues,” I mean global poverty and inequality, which Friedman writes about consistently as well. By “our issues” I mean our fossil energy addiction and the insecurity it brings our nation. I realize I shouldn’t simply assume these are “our” issues (perhaps you don’t care about one ore more of them), but they are certainly important to me. You may not agree with what Friedman proposes as solutions – reforming the capitalist system instead of overthrowing it (and replacing it with what?) – but few nationally-syndicated columnists routinely writes about these issues at all. I don’t agree with Friedman much of the time. But by bringing these issues into the realm of national spotlight, he’s helping to prompt the kind of “spirit of true debate and free speech” around the energy/climate crisis you would presumably want to see.

    “And whose allies were alienated?”

    -An entire room full of potential allies were probably alienated. As Aden notes, the effect on the crowd was not a positive one. The effect on readers here was largely not positive. And certainly the effect on Friedman was not. You may not consider him a potential ally, but if you’d truly prompted “a debate duel” rather than a hit and run pieing, you may have actually communicated your concerns to Friedman and others in a way that was heard, instead of marginalized and ignored. Again, this is all about the effectiveness of our tactics and the respect and dignity warranted any person, friend or foe. You may think “[Friedman's] humiliation is beside irrelevent,” but clearly many would disagree with you here (as would Ghandi, MLK and many of our most revered revolutionaries).

  36. 36 Michael Shellenberger Apr 24th, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Okay, so far only Sparki’s had the courage to tell his name is Scott Parkin. Brian, that you really believe that you are somehow at risk of retribution from right-wingers is a sign of your personal self-aggrandizement and paranoia. The rest of the “Greenwash Guerrillas” remain anonymous and pseudonymous — too scared to own your acts. Good luck making your little revolution anonymously.

  37. 37 lizveazey Apr 24th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    seems to me like this action was really successful action at least in generating dialogue around the issues (over 30 comments just on this post!) I don’t think that we as a movement have enough dialogue about capitalism and it’s role in environmental destruction and holding back the changes we need. Sounds like everyone with any sense is opposing corn based ethanol, and other “dirty” biofuels, but we’re on a plan as a nation to increase our corn based ethanol and other biofuels. Corporate interests are tearing down forests for palm oil in Indonesia, and corporate interests continue to promote coal & nuclear as “solutions” (ha!) to global warming (and although a number of coal plant proposals have fallen, there are still a handful that we’re fighting down here in the South and a bunch of new nuclear proposals.) There are corporate interests doing green building and clean energy, but we must focus much more heavily on efficiency, conservation and really clean energy. This won’t be possible if we invest billions in coal, nuclear and dirty biofuels, so is it possible to get to the clean energy future we want with all of the power that dirty corporations have? Why aren’t we all working more collaboratively on “deep change” that will allow us to creating a safe, healthy, just, clean energy economy? (as suggested powerfully by authors of the “Soul of Environmentalism”) I’m concerned about this (especially knowing a little bit of the history of capitalism and its destructive force on people and ecosystems over the last couple hundred years), but I’d like to see more discussions about how we can work together on deep change and challenging this corporate power through campaign finance reform, instant runoff voting and hopefully you all have lots of other, more exciting ideas. I think we have to stand strong together for bold solutions and not compromise for half-solutions (eg, in the 1970s, big national environmental groups compromised on SMCRA and what did we get? mountaintop removal mining, ah!) Let’s continue on with a discussion of this and other solutions and not continue to bash each other!

  38. 38 Cascadia Brian Apr 24th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Michael, what’s that you all were saying about personal attacks? (

    Anyhow, I’m not interested in taking the bait.

    You can attack the pie-ers, but I’m not sure why I – who am thousands of miles from where this happened – am being attacked by you at all (but perhaps that’s a legitimate mix up?). Insisting people who take one side in a debate (especially when the other side, eg. “Get Smarter or Lose”, “The Green Miles” are not being asked) to reveal their names when anonymous blogging is fully customary across the blogosphere is nothing short of a witch hunt.

    Although I disagree with them, I think it’s fantastic that Jesse and others are challenging the tactics and arguing for Friedman’s green credability – it’s obviously a passionate discussion. I respectfully ask you to not distract from it.

  39. 39 C Neal Apr 24th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    “Guerrillas”? Really? Isn’t that a bit grandiose for a couple of ivy league kiddos?

    This bit was funny, too:

    “The Greenwash Guerrillas have challenged Thomas Friedman and all other green capitalists – to a debate duel.”

    Right, I’m sure Friedman will take you up on that one now. The fair way to do it would be to let Friedman ambush these guys with his own pies – but we can be fairly certain that he won’t sink to that level.

    Pie goo on Friedman’s turtleneck – meh. The real comedy in all of this is that a pair of privileged Brown students have convinced themselves that their juvenile act of vanity is actually going to lead to a productive debate that destroys capitalism and stops global warming.

    We’re rolling in the aisles, kids.

  40. 40 jennybedellstiles Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    After this incident, I bet Friedman will be less inclined to speak to or even in close proximity with youth about the climate crisis. And this sets poor precedent for getting speakers to future events such as Power Shift 2009 and other local activities.

    It rubs me the wrong way when members of the climate movement are disrespectful in the tactics we choose for our actions, such as pieing someone in the face, and also when we, the online community are so flippantly disrespectful in our comments towards one another. The two are connected. Our rhetoric and actions will match each other. I agree with Liz, Jesse and others up here that other world leaders reached success with peaceful respectful tactics. Other approaches often resulted in public backlash (e.g. black panthers and the white supremacy backlash).

    I’m curious when if ever, it is appropriate to pie someone in the face. As Brian noted, would it be alright if they were the CEO of Bank America? I tend to think yes. In this case the target is the bottom line for an irresponsible entity pursuing economic gain at all costs and not representing their own personal opinions.

  41. 41 MayB Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Just found this interview with TF following the Pie incident:

  42. 42 jessejenkins Apr 24th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Liz wrote: “seems to me like this action was really successful action at least in generating dialogue around the issues (over 30 comments just on this post!)”

    Liz, notice that the dialog is not really at all about the issues here. 38 posts, yes, but they are about the efficacy of tactics and the level of respect and dignity warranted friends and foes. The issues and points you raise are well worth discussion. But if it was the GWG’s intent to raise these issues, they failed miserably.

  43. 43 dissenter Apr 24th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I love how a bunch of folks who at new to the global Warming movement feel that they have a huge say in tactics that are used and feel they need to defend someone who’s history is probably not so clear to many of them. Not to try and put down newer folks to the movement but, youth typically decide where they stand on an issue or individual and defend it/them until they move on to the next subject.

    I suggest everyone take this opportunity to research Friedman’s sketchy background and have a better understanding of the situation before blurting out uninformed info on blog posts.

    I also think its very interested that folks feel they are better or more informed than others when they don’t do any actual on the ground organizing, but run a blog and speak like they want to be a politician.

    You know who Im talking about.

  44. 44 london calling Apr 24th, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    People, get a grip! Its a couple of custard pies! I have never seen so much outpouring of collective angst and big drama-queen statements over a couple of badly-flung flans.

    Firstly, do we all appreciate that being pied has a long-standing tradition of people expressing their sense of disgust at public figures? Influential climate sceptic Bjorn Lomsborg got pied a few years back, green-baiting SUV-advocating media figure in the UK Jeremy Clarkson took one in the kisser a year or so back, and as far as I can remember, the Greenwash Guerillas, made their first appearance at the 2000 UN climate talks in Den Haag when the leader of the US delegation also got his ‘just desserts’

    This isn’t violent.. no one got hurt.. its on the level of pranks and practical jokes, and the long standing tradition of the Fool using humour to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

    Quoting Gandhi in the context of your argument doesnt automatically give you some huffy moral high ground to stand in judgement of other people’s tactics or forms of political expression. Gandhi also, quite rightly said that poverty is the worst form of violence, and what this man stands for, in terms of his advocation of economic globalisation and the imposition of free-market fundamentalism around the world, and all the poverty and environmental destruction that that has caused, makes him a very ripe target for this sort of thing. I don’t think that Gandhi would have had very nice things at all to say about Thomas Friedman.

    Just because someone writes a bunch of columns advocating clean energy doesn’t necssarily make him an ‘influential ally’ that you would want to cosey up with. Its like saying that animal rights activists wouldnt want to piss off Hitler because he was such an influential advocate of vegetarianism.

    The economic policies that this man espouses and promotes is an inherent part of the problem in terms of dealing with the issue of climate change. Just becasue someone is ‘powerful’ doesnt automatically make them an ally.

  45. 45 jessejenkins Apr 24th, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    “you know who I’m talking about”

    I don’t. But if you are talking about me, or anyone else here for that matter, have some courage and come out and say it directly.
    Backhanded personal attacks are no better than explicit ones (worse I’d argue!).

    For now I’ll simply note that no one has really answered my question about what this act has actually accomplished. Anyone?

  46. 46 Agent Blueberry Surprise Apr 24th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Hello Youth Climate Movement, welcome to the Global Pastry Uprising!

    As the Zapatistas have made clear, in a global economy, we all live in Chiapas.

    Under neoliberalismo, we all can throw a pie in the face of corporate fascism (and you got one of the worst of the worst of neoliberal spokesman).

    No bosses, offices, foundation grants, never-ending consensus meetings, or CFLA’s (Confusing Four Letter Acronyms) are needed. As the Nike corporation says, “Just Do It!”

    Pie-slinging is just one tool in a large toolbox of resistance to the dominant paradigm. We have tried everything within the spectrum of nonviolent protest to effect positive change and will continue to do so. Pieing has broadened the scope of protest, instead of replacing other methods.

    Having said that, we also believe that it’s far better to pie on our feet than to live on our knees.

  47. 47 Cascadia Brian Apr 24th, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    > “you know who I’m talking about”

    come now “dissenter”: I agree with most of what you said, but the pointed personal attacks distracts from the real debate, and make anyone reading this without personal investment turn off.

    I have already spent WAY too much time on this debate, and I’m guessing we can agree there is more pressing work then having it out ad infinitum in IGHIH, but I did find this interesting article in the Ecologist about pieing which speaks to the “what did this accomplish”…

    and you can read the book “Pie Any Means Necessary” at, which has more about the ethics of pieing.

  48. 48 Tactics and strategy Apr 24th, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    “For now I’ll simply note that no one has really answered my question about what this act has actually accomplished. Anyone?”

    Well, it’s pretty silly to demand to know all the results of an individual action that just happened a couple of days ago. The same demand could easily be leveled at activities such as fundraising, lobbying, banner hangs, blockades, congressional or popular votes…anything short of assassination, probably (and considering how easy it is to replace a politician or businessman, you could probably ask the same question there). Very few individual actions deliver immediately obvious results, and to demand such proof is a rhetorical trick.

    Social change is a process, and that means that it takes time and a diversity of tactics. Only with hindsight can anyone say with any degree of credibility what the contribution of specific actions was.

    The goal of this action was obviously to mock Friedman and his false solutions in an attention-getting way. That seems to have been achieved. It’s impossible to accurately assess whether more people were amused, informed or “alienated” by this action. And besides, plenty of people are also alienated by lobbying, canvassing, voting, corporate partnerships and other more socially sanctioned tactics.

    Finally, let me say that I’m pretty grossed out by some people’s apparent obsession with the so-called “human dignity” of apologists for a colonialist economic system. The man was PIED — not waterboarded, not stripped naked and made to pose for degrading photos, not dispossessed of his ancestral land, not put to work in a sweatshop (all things Friedman seems to be OK with when they happen to others, I might note).

    The socially acceptable channels of protest are sanctioned by the political system precisely because they insulate the powerful from any serious challenge or critique. Accepting these definitions betrays an unconscious acceptance of the premise they are founded on: that while the powerful have the right to burn coal, steal indigenous land or arrest people who throw pies, the people bearing the brunt of these attacks do not have the right to respond, except by words.

  49. 49 JayF Apr 24th, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    This is just sad.

  50. 50 elena Apr 25th, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I debated for a while about whether to contribute to this discussion (my first posting on IGHIH, though I’m a long time reader of the blog) because I don’t want to add to whatever comments people are perceiving as divisive and personally attacking. I don’t necessarily agree with the pie-ing, or the target, but I’m know there is precedent and (I hope) positive intent behind this “tool” of activism. However, I felt I needed to comment when, catching up on my news tonight, I came across the following on the CNN news site. On the front page under latest news there is a headline stating: “Pulitzer winner just the latest pie target.” Hopefully this following video link works:

    It might be considered a victory that this act hit the national news. But before the Greenwash Guerillas and others celebrate, I would ask that we look at what discussed in the video–the reporter talks about other people in history who have been pied, but not the reasons for THIS pie-ing. Is there a way to take this national attention and turn it into the dialogue that I hope all of us want to have (whatever our opinion may be on the acts of the Greenwash Guerillas)? How can we use this act to talk about the national and global issues we all care about? To make this act “accomplish” something?

    Whatever happens, let’s stop placing blame on each other. Let us make this into a movement that is able to contain contradiction and disagreement and still MAKE THINGS HAPPEN! If we can do that, and still carry on in a positive, non-violent, manner, our movement will be all the stronger. Because ultimately, our core values seem to be the same. Please, the act is done. Let’s move the arguing about it to a positive discussion (in another forum perhaps) about ALL of the tools we have to use and when they are appropriate and most affective. But at the present moment, let’s turn our attention to how to get the national news media to talk about the issues behind the pie-ing, not just the legacy of pie-ing itself. Focus not on the negative but on the positive in the movement, and as Van Jones said, let’s turn our movement’s fuel from coal to solar. These issues are too important to fall apart from the inside–we have too many roadblocks and barriers on the outside. Embrace our movement’s contradictions and find a way to work with and through them. Great things can happen.

  51. 51 mountaingirl Apr 25th, 2008 at 2:34 am

    teryn…loosen up

    why environmentalism is dead is because of pessimists like you…

    it was funny :) pies in the face have been around for years.

    “environmentalism” is alive and kickin’

    and to start the debate off, let’s define “environment”. I define environment to be our total cultural, social, political, economic, and maybe spiritual world. When I hear talk of environmentalists, it seems so very vague. To say environmentalism is dead, is a sweeping statement, which needs to be clarified. Which part of “environmentalism” is dead?

  52. 52 mountaingirl Apr 25th, 2008 at 2:58 am

    liz brings up a very good point. it’s going to take working together to create deep change, at the root level, and addressing capitalism and the economy. not allowing corporate amerika to push the false hope of market based solutions and nuclear as the answer to global climate change. nothing less than consuming less and reusing will help us out of this mess.

  53. 53 Tuco Apr 25th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Throwing pies. Another circle jerk for the pampered and self-consciously alienated “youth” at Brown.

  54. 54 Lorna Salzman Apr 25th, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Lighten up, people. So some of you were “shocked, shocked”, because two people who (with good reason dislike Thonmas Friedman) pied him. Since when did we all have to think alike, or follow Miss Manners? Since when is there a loyalty oath that opponents of neo liberalism have to follow? We heard from Shellenberger on this list, who was dismayed. Hey Michael, your latest fraud of a book,Break Through, is on a par with Friedman nonsense. But we aren’t going to suppress your right to freedom of expression. With Shellenberger on one side, and the Pied Piper (whose setiments I share), on the other, clearly we have a diversity of viewpoints. The challenge is not to exclude those whose bad manners dont fit our notion of civilized behavior. The challenge is to build a movement with common goals and a plan of action. In this respect we have failed miserably, not least because people like Shellenberger and others posted on this list are still not prepared to correctly identify the root causes of the global ecological crisis, much less confront them. The fact is that we do not HAVE a movement yet because we haven’t agreed on a unified agenda. And I would guess that most among our group still accept the parameters of the fat consumer capitalist society and are busy trying to find ways of fitting in little pieces of green into this suicidal way of life. More of you agree with Friedman it appears. Most of you really buy into the argument that we have until 2050 to mend our behavior. Most of you probably REALLY believe that some sit-ins and rallies and internet debates constitute political change. I have news for you: all of this dilly-dallying is nothing more than delay, and a lethal delay at that. Every hour that you devote to anything but tearing down and replacing the industrial growth society in every aspect is an hour working for Thomas Friedman. You could all be out on the streets building a movement. You could be telling your sappy congressman to stuff the lousy energy legisation that the big enviros got forced onto us. You could be insisting on really high carbon taxes, getting up to $240 ton as Lester Brown proposes, in order to price coal plants out of the market and bring renewables on line in a level playing field. You could be lobbying to stop ALL energy subsidies and tax breaks. You could be working with the desperate but olitically astute people in Appalachia to stop mountaintop removal as the first step in shutting down ALL coal powered plants, present and future. But you arent. You are too busy passing judgment on people who, out of frustration, did a human thing: express their public disapproval of one of the leading purveyors of environmental mendacity, and one of the leading defenders of corporate capitalism. Sure, they could have been well behaved. That and $2 will get you a NYC subway. Time is pst when we could just be well behaved citizens playing by the rules of the game. Those rules are stacked against us (duh). Anytime you play by them you will lose, just like the rules of casinos. The rules need to be trashed and the game redefined. It isnt a game between equals. We are outclased. Time is short. We need everyone, pie throwers included, to redraw the picture.

  55. 55 Josh Apr 25th, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Pied Piper:

    Her name is spelled Margaret MEAD. Do you even know who she was?

  56. 56 Teryn Norris Apr 25th, 2008 at 12:11 pm
  57. 57 greenwashguerrillas Apr 25th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Howdy – Colonel Custard, the corporate criminal creamer here.

    From the mouth of friedman himself:

    The point of Friedman being racist, imperialist, etc etc has been more than proven – it’s obvious (for more details, check ).

    There are CLEAR connections between his “bad” politics of war and racism, and his “good” politics of clean energy. That’s exactly what greenwashing does, is create a nice new feel-good image for the same old shit.

    If you want to take his politics on clean energy in isolation and say they have no relation to the rest of it… Come on now, seriously?

    That’s his whole point!! That the American Empire isn’t doing well, and that GREEN is going to be the thing that saves it. To unite the red and the blue states into 50 green states.

    And this is why it’s important to know your enemy, and know what you’re fighting for, because GREEN is not just about global warming. People been talking about climate change for a while, and they were silenced. Being green got big because some sell-out activists got together with some forward-thinking corporate execs, and figured out that not only can they make a lot of money off this, but that being green wasn’t a challenge to structures of power, but would be THE thing that would SAVE them from the threats posed by climate change and energy scarcity.

    Get real. The Clean Energy Economy (which yes includes large scale wind, and large scale solar, along with all the false solutions from nuclear to clean coal to biofuels of every generation to genetically modified algae and crazy geo-engineering schemes), is one of the most insidious threats to the planet, to people, and all living creatures. It is a threat because it pretends to “save us” while doing everything that is needed to keep this sick society up on its feet. And it is dangerous, because some very good-hearted and well-intentioned people have gotten caught up in this mess, thinking they’re fighting for the right thing well helping the Monster fix its broken internal mechanics. The monster has got to go. Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, knows this, and identifies false solutions as a problem just as serious as climate change. The Indigenous Environmental Network knows this, and identifies false solutions and CO2olonialism as the ways in which the colonial fossil fuel economy will sustain itself. The Landless Worker’s movement in Brazil knows this, and identifies finance capital, neo-liberalism, and the US/Europe as the enemy to a liveable future. And all three of these groups, along with countless others, are already living (and HAVE been living) the “low-carbon” “sustainable” lifestyle that is so sought after. And yet they are continually on the frontlines of colonial genocide, a genocide that has now gone green with the help of Thomas Friedman and a few well-intentioned activists.

    Get real, get with it, and know who your enemies are. The clock is ticking, and there’s no time for misguided good intentions.

    The pieing of friedman and all this tom-foolery has done a LOT that I won’t get in to here, but one thing that it HAS done is helped polarize the debate to find out who falls where on the spectrums. So, for those of you who have come to his defense, thank you for exposing yourselves for the green supporters of US imperialism, racism, and zionism that you are.

    In putting on some masks, others fall off.

    Ta ta

  58. 58 znôrt Apr 25th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    cheer up guys, nothing is just black or white. creaming one’s face because of his opinions, his policy or whatever other reason is not acceptable. it’s against free speech and against elemental respect. on the other hand, being a irresponsible warmonger and reckless capitalism supporter is equally unacceptable (no less!). by the way, even if respecting *anyone’s* right for free spech is absolutely unquestionable, it is hard to understand how someone like friedman can have the guts to show up at an university (sanctuaries of education, ffs!) to dump his propaganda with this cynical gorgeous display as a worryied world observer. what a freakshow.

    in short, nobody should never ever be creamed in a speech. but people like friedman should be prepared to be anytime. nobody can have it all.

    shouldn’t have happened, but it did. so let’s deal with it. what does it mean? this is not just two guys throwing pies at another guy, it’s a symbolic act, and it’s called activism. activism against establishement is, by definition, linked to transgression of rules, so although this act is regrettable, it is equally understandable. who will take more advantage from this, if any, i cannot say for sure, i guess only time will tell. i guess the one who is more swift in taking profit from it! friedman has now got an argument against his detractors … a really faint one but then … like most of his are! and enviromentalists around the world can still make a difference.

    so far my 5 cents. now about the video (and that’s what the topic is about, not enviromentalism, i guess). it’s funny how 2 guys that can’t even cream someone in the face by sneaky surprise call themselves “guerrillas”. oh my! :-) a bit pathetic, but then, I guess they aren’t professionals anyways. and maybe the task wasn’t as easy at it may seem: can you imagine yourself hiding two big green creampies in front of the audiencie of a full auditiorium with such a “beloved celebrity” on stage? where would you hide them … in your pockets? under the t-shirt? did nobody spot them? hm …

    and then, what about the other guy, friedman. his reaction is no less pathetic. is this the reaction of a full blown patriot who encourages people to war and is so proud of his military? ffs, he shrieks like a pimp, tries to run away and almost looses balance. he is totally baffled when given a handkerchief, just tries to stupidly rub some mess from his hand and, with an elocuent gesture of gratitude, slaps the handkerchief to the floor. what a moroon. and best of all … then just walks off. and his speech??? i mean … what a pityfull way to spoil an oportunity to show some dignity. couldn’t he just shake off the cream and keep going? what a nice metaphor of the solidity of his arguments: crumbled away when hit by a creampie. well, almost hit :D

    well, right, there’s a moment he regains a tiny trace of composture. just enough to lick his finger. hope he at last likes cream :-)

    one last thing: did he finish his speech, at the end? anycase, guess most of the audience already knew what he was going to say so … still an attack on free speech, but not a tragedy after all. for sure has earned a youtube hit.


  59. 59 jessejenkins Apr 25th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    London Calling (Kevin, right?), writes: “This isn’t violent.. no one got hurt… Quoting Gandhi in the context of your argument doesnt automatically give you some huffy moral high ground … I don’t think that Gandhi would have had very nice things at all to say about Thomas Friedman.”

    Agreed that Gandhi probably wouldn’t be a Friedman fan! But that’s not my point at all.

    I know you (and probably many others) don’t see this pieing tactic as violent, but whether violent or not, I would argue it is clearly a degradation of someone’s human dignity, and that’s what prompted such a strong reaction from me, as well as the reference to Gandhi. I’m not trying to seize some moral high ground, but I am quite honestly a bit scared by the quickness at which some accept this kind of tactic as legitimate (putting aside questions of it’s efficacy for a moment).

    I simply can’t see how the non-violent philosophy of Gandhi’s resistance – a philosophy grounded in a fundamental respect even for your enemy and his human dignity – would validate the kind of assault on someone’s dignity, enemy or otherwise, that was so apparent from watching Friedman’s face after he was hit by the pies. Watch the video again and tell me if that looks like a man who’s human dignity is being respected by the GWGs… (That’s more than embarrassment on Friedman’s face, and I doubt he’d see it as “on the level of pranks and practical jokes”).

    Now the GWGs have accused Friedman of tolerating, even advocating human rights abuses that are clearly much worse degradations of a human’s dignity than an “all in good fun” pieing, but I fail to see how, even if you believe those accusations, that warrants violating someone else’s dignity. The hole in that logic seems large enough to drive a truck through.

    To be quite honest, I wouldn’t be too concerned if we were just talking about pieing – after all, if this is as radical as our movement gets in our tactics, that wouldn’t be so bad. What concerns me is the moral reasoning that justifies this kind of tactic – Friedman doesn’t respect others’ dignity, therefore we don’t have to respect his. To me that sounds dangerously close to the kind of reasoning that tolerates and justifies violent tactics, something I do have deep problems with. That’s why I reacted to strongly against this pie-throwing tactic.

    “Tactics and Strategy” thinks it’s unfair of me to prompt for an explanation of how this tactic is effective. I’m not saying you need to tell me how this action results in revolution somewhere down the line, but I’d like a better explanation of the intent of this action. How was it supposed to work out? Maybe Friedman “deserved” this, but giving him his “just desserts” is hardly an end in itself, if your broader goal is social change that actually results in real improvements in people’s lives (I have a hard time imagining this act has made Friedman more sympathetic to your message!).

    If your intent was to prompt a “debate duel” as your pamphlets say, seems to have failed just about everyone beyond this blog, where people like me are invested enough in this movement to engage with your despite what I see as pretty immature tactics. It certainly failed to prompt a debate with Friedman himself, who’d probably never talk to you after a stunt like this.

    Anyway, I’m far more concerned about where this line of moral reasoning goes. I know we had a pretty interesting back and forth about going “beyond non-violent” tactics (whatever that means) a while back (the only other post I can think of that elicited nearly this much back and forth in the comments – see here and here), so there are clearly disagreements within our movement about what is an acceptable tactic, but I hardly think we need to sink to the level of disregarding anyone’s human dignity to make our point. Not yet anyway…

    Finally, thanks to Brian for pushing back against personal attacks. We do NOT need to go there, on either side of this debate. (There’s really a book called “Pie Any Means Necessary”?! Guess I’ll have to check it out… Thanks for the links).

  60. 60 Biodynamic Master Apr 25th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I just wanted to say how shocked, stung, and disappointed I was seeing this act at the Brown conference. Perhaps the “Greenwash Guerillas” are attacking the capitalist values and CEOs of democracy, but that does not mean that we should attack one’s right to SPEAK. Freedom of speech. Basic respect. Friedman’s a human being too. They all are. While you might not agree with all of his views, he’s trying to tell us SOMETHING, and the fact that after you threw… some green stuff at him, he gave such an inspirational speech… that just blew your whole movement over. He was using SCIENCE, LOGIC, WELL-THOUGHT OUT arguments, and in the end he said we need a GREEN REVOLUTION. That we need to make sacrifices to deal with the climate crisis. Sure, for the good of America since he thinks we’ll go stronger by going green (hence the name of the lecture) but come on. This is an individual who is giving us SOLUTIONS. Who actually praised the grassroots environmental movement and said it was the basic for real change.

    Right now he said we’re living in a “Green Party.” People are going green where it’s easy or to make a profit for themselves off some “50 ways to Go Green” books. I totally agree with that. And if we were going to get any further on this, you should have just talked to him afterwards.

    This kind of treatment – it just divides us! Isn’t community organizing and activism about working together to make positive change?

    And your pamphlets – whining about things he’s said before – where are YOUR solutions, then? We’re not going to get anywhere if we complain about everything that supports “this issue” or “that person.” The tone of your pamphlets and post – well, I’d get worried if he was running for president and went back on what he said before because that’s high stakes, but what I heard was not an ad for biofuels or a support for total freedom of the capitalist industry. What he said is what EVERYONE needs to listen to. It inspired EVERYONE in that room to be more concerned and do more to counter climate change. I’m not just saying that. Ask anyone that was there.

    Change happens in small steps in this world. If you’ve taken history class you’d know. Big overthrows and wars result in more destruction.

    Don’t bash his views on this matter until you’ve been to the lecture. Oh wait, you left. Then get his book for goodness sakes. Host a lecture or event of your own promoting your views. Maybe then change will happen. The only reason it hasn’t happened so far is because of stupid things alienating activist groups from important people.

    I think you all just want to DO something to get the name of your club on some paper. The more radical the better. Is there anything more childish, immature, and not thought out at all – frankly, stupid – than this?

    I’m going to regret ever joining this movement if this is the kind of action that gets the headlines on this blog. The only good thing that came out of this was this discussion, and awareness of this cause – even if it’s only limited to people in this community, and not the people who are really making the decisions and only saw your “pieing” on Earth Day.

  61. 61 opiloc Apr 25th, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    well done.
    bien hecho.

  62. 62 Chris Apr 27th, 2008 at 4:23 am

    The success of this action will be determined by the story we tell in its wake.

    The Greenwash Guerrillas at Brown managed to turn a plate of green goo into over 100 media hits overnight. They invaded a capitalist rally and creamed a national icon. When you’re a young person without the advantage of two Pulitzers and a media empire at your back, it’s tough to get your voice heard. When I hear that this neoliberal militarist cheerleader got pied in the face, I see media democracy and principled direct action.

    Before we go any further with these paternalist put-downs and call for more “maturity” (read: compromise), I’d suggest we remember what’s at stake. “Greenwashing” isn’t a matter of splitting hairs; it’s a matter of defining our future for ourselves. Excuse me if I’m skeptical of anyone who tries to fit our movement into a client company’s business model, which is effectively Friedman’s job description. I don’t expect any help building sustainability from these established pundits. Thomas Friedman’s advocacy is as superficial and demeaning as Al Gore telling young people to go get themselves arrested while he polishes his Nobel Prize. I have no patience for a writer like Friedman who loses sleep trying to promote free trade, Israel, and sustainability all in one breath. I’m tired of watching old people win awards, promotions, and book deals just so they can pass the buck to our generation. Any documented conflict like this incident can be adapted to fit whatever historical oppositions you want–bourgeoisie and proletariat, landed and landless, reactionary and progressive, capitalist and anarchist, pig and ant–but at the very least, it gives me hope to see the voiceless make a fool out of that loudmouth.

  63. 63 mountaingirl Apr 27th, 2008 at 8:02 pm



    Check out the Soul of Environmentalism

  64. 64 R Margolis Apr 28th, 2008 at 7:59 am

    I couldn’t help notice that Lorna Salzman posted. I recall her writings back in the 70’s. It seems that everyone is getting involved in this…

  65. 65 LuLu Apr 28th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    A “true environmentalist” would not be storing pies in plastic bags or wearing name brand clothing and shoes. Where’s your hemp?

  66. 66 Stephen Apr 28th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Ughh… great, more Greenwash Guerilla bull….
    Look folks, there are plenty of arguments for socialism but the environment isn’t one of them. And who the hell are these morons to say that they speak for true environmentalists? The sure don’t speak for me.

    Read between the lines of this group’s rhetoric. They don’t care about the environment at all. What they care about is anti-capitalism and anti-corporatism. What they fail to realize is that we have a better chance of saving the planet by working with big business than trying to destroy/demonize it.

    If you’re a socialist, that’s fine. Actually, so am I. But don’t try to conflate your political views with saving the environment, it just doesn’t work. Environmentalism is about putting the earth first, even before your own political and social biases.

    If a corporation does something, say, to curb greenhouse gases significantly, isn’t that a positive change regardless of how we might feel about corporate America?

    And what the hell is the problem with biofuels? Sure, some will tell you it drives up food prices but that’s a short-term side-effect to a significant long-term environmental gain. And once the industry attaches more carbon controls to the refining process and can better preserve biodiversity, the net result will be cleaner air and a safer environment. It would be foolish to dismiss biofuels just because the technology is still under development. C’mon, did the Wright brothers give up on flight after their first attempt?

    All that aside, I’m sure that these elitist college students really believe that what they did was right. But it wasn’t. It was assault. Comical assault, to be sure, but it was violence nonetheless. Frankly, they should both be expelled (if the other one turns out to be a student) and at least charged by the police.

  67. 67 Cascadia Brian Apr 28th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    While Lorna has some views I strongly disagree with, her review of “Breakthrough” is outstanding, and very relavent to this discussion:

  68. 68 jessejenkins Apr 28th, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Stephen, you ask: “And what the hell is the problem with biofuels?” Might want to read this to find out what’s wrong with biofuels and how we might want to get it right.

  69. 69 greenwashguerrilla Apr 30th, 2008 at 1:46 am

    April 28th, 2008

    For Immediate Release:

    Contact: Colonel Custard (aka the corporate criminal creamer)

    Greenwash Guerillas:

    Footage available:

    Greenwash Guerrillas Pie Thomas Friedman at Brown University

    YouTube Censors Video; Pie Thrower Faces University Disciplinary Procedures

    Providence, RI – New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman was pied by the Greenwash Guerillas while giving an Earth Day Lecture at Brown University. The Greenwash Guerillas targeted Thomas Friedman because of his support for U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, neo-liberal economic policies that harm the world’s poor, and especially for promoting bogus solutions to the global climate crisis.

    “We sought to expose the hypocrisy of allowing Friedman, who is known for his influential support of U.S. wars for oil in the Middle East, to call himself an environmentalist,” explained Greenwash Guerrilla Margaree Little. “He has blood on his hands that no amount of ‘green’ can wash away.”

    Little, a Brown University student identified as one of the pie throwers, faces University disciplinary hearings, potentially including expulsion. Colonel Custard, the second pie thrower, remains at large.

    Little and Custard jumped on stage as Friedman began his talk, entitled “Green is the new Red, White & Blue.” The talk focused on how green technology and corporate environmentalism can restore the United States to its “natural place in the global order.”

    They tossed two green-colored cream pies at Friedman and dashed off as leaflets denouncing Friedman were thrown to the crowd. According to the pamphlets, “On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists – we, the Greenwash Guerillas, declare Thomas Friedman’s ‘Green’ as fake . . . as the cool-whip covering his face.”

    The Greenwash Guerillas object to Friedman’s support for nuclear power, coal power, industrial biofuels, and carbon trading markets. “These false solutions are smokescreens, intended to generate massive corporate profits while creating global humanitarian and environmental disasters,” said Colonel Custard.

    Video of the pie throwing incident was posted on YouTube, and received close to 70,000 views in 36 hours, making it one of the most popular videos on the site. Without notice, YouTube abruptly censored the video, removing it from the website. Hundreds of news outlets, blogs, and websites had linked to the video. The Greenwash Guerillas have reposted the clip at:

    “Given the many other pieings on YouTube(1), the removal of the video can only be understood as an act of political censorship,” said Little. “One has to wonder whether Friedman, a billionaire with a lot of connections, has more influence than “you” on YouTube.”

    “The Greenwash Guerillas chose the harmless and humorous tactic of pie-throwing because our goal was to take this perpetual charlatan off his new green pedestal,” said Colonel Custard. “Friedman’s support for coal and nuclear power is as misguided as his counsel on Iraq.”

    This is the second time Friedman has been hit by a pie. In October 2002, he received a banana pie to his face while promoting his writings on free-market globalization in Boston.


    (1) e.g.,

  70. 70 Kilian May 4th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Anybody who thinks such acts could ever be an effective way of persuading others to adopt your beliefs and cause, musn’t ever have read Civil Disobedience.

  71. 71 mark Oct 16th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    how arrogant of man to think he can control the weather or climate…another liberal idea to disperse wealth according to their beliefs,,liberalism will be the downfall of ameican capitalism and the american dream of freedom through wealth and prosperity..PLEASE educate yourself before yo vote..ESPECIALLY you young people..dont get sucked in to the liberal bull crap which will eventually destroy your country that your grandpas died trying to defend..wake up america..first your healthcare choice then your breath…whats next? obama is a cancer to american values..

  72. 72 arcarmAlantee Jun 2nd, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Nice article you’ve got there. Hope to read more soon.


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