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Old 03-20-2009, 05:56 AM   #1
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Dave Marsh is at it again...

I wish Bono would debate him......only I wouldn't want Bono to lower himself ...

Big Scar on the Horizon
Sir Bono: the Knight Who Fled From His Own Debate

As CounterPunch and Rock and Rap Confidential disclosed in September, last May U2’s Bono confronted Irish journalist Gavin Martin and myself in the lobby of Dublin’s Merion Hotel. He asked what I’d been working on. I said “the premise that celebrity politics has been a pretty much complete failure.” Bono replied that he wanted to debate the topic in public. He reiterated the challenge the next evening. The witnesses included U2’s manager Paul McGuinness and my wife, Barbara Carr, among others.

I made sure that Sirius Satellite Radio, which was to broadcast the debate, knew about Bono’s invitation. By mid-June, U2’s New York office confirmed the plan, asking only that it be delayed until U2 finished recording its next album. I kept it public via RRC and my Sirius show, Kick Out the Jams.

In November, U2 manager Paul McGuinness rang me. After some brief personal palaver—I like Paul even though I know he’s alluded to me as a “Trotskyist” behind my back—McGuinness sheepishly said “Bono has asked me to ask you if he can withdraw” from the debate.

I said “Sure.” McGuinness expressed gratitude that I was taking it so well.

“Of course,” I added, “this was a public challenge. Backing out’s not gonna be private.” I did not ask why Bono ducked the debate. Maybe he’d come to his senses, as his apologetics for world capitalism disintegrated with the stock, housing and employment markets. Maybe he was too busy preparing the banalities he’d blare on the new album.

In the wake of the New Depression generated by Bono’s tutors in world finance, it’s hardly necessary to issue a point by point refutation of his statements about how the world works,. Based on Bono’s response to criticism of U2’s tax avoidance, he plans to carry to the grave the ardently stupid globalization orthodoxy of Forbes, the Wall Street cheerleading rag he co-owns. Can there be anyone else who’s ventured a deep thought in the last several months who still believes that the only path to change involves bending the knee to the powerful?

As for the lyrics, don’t jump to the wrong conclusion. It can’t be denied that Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton and the Edge can still make fascinating music. Bono’s yelped vocals are another matter, his hollow lyrics--where every platitude yields to an obscurantist pretension and back again--yet another. Unfortunately, even if he’d come up with a lyric as great as “One,” Bono also carries into each project his off-stage political pronouncements, and his fawning affiliations with war criminals such as Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

I don’t know why Bono spit the bit on debating these issues in a public forum with a well-informed antagonist. Maybe he decided that he’d fucked up and was about to lower himself by going head to head with a journalist. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal on the spot with descriptions of his repeated appearances at the conferences of the leading capitalist nations where he’s yet to ask his first hard question about anything but Africa; about his settling for promises from world leaders that patently weren’t going to be kept, and never doing more than mewing when they weren’t; about why it is that Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, by no means an anti-capitalist, observes that she met him “at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me,” or why so many other Africans have complained that he claims to speak for them but has never so much as asked their permission. In regard to the last, I did receive more courtesy than Andrew Mwenda, the Ugandan journalist Bono cursed for raising such questions at an economics conference. (But then, I’m white and Celtic-American.)

It certainly isn’t my fault that I have to say “maybe” about all of this. Bono never got back to me, or had any of his handlers get back to me, about the ground rules for our projected “debate”--his term, not mine. I’d have settled for an honest interview although “debate” would have been more fun, even though the result was inevitable. No matter how many people sided with my being able to see through the kind of thing William Burroughs once poetically dubbed “a thin tissue of horseshit” it wouldn’t be enough to outweigh Big Time Pop Star status.

I don’t know. More to the point, you can’t know either.

U2 could be in a fair amount of trouble. The band is old by rock standards, and on the cover of Rolling Stone Bono looked much older than the rest because of a physical makeover that tries to deny it. No Line’s first single flopped on the radio. The band’s decision to have its song publishing company flee Ireland for a tax haven in the Netherlands has been subject to protests in the streets of Dublin and has no obvious justification, despite Bono’s fatuous counterclaim that it is his critics who are the hypocrites because free-market values were what created the “Celtic Tiger” of Dublin’s capitalist boom economy. The Tiger’s death throes look to be particularly messy, in part because of capital flight of just U2’s kind. The band’s attempt to alter the Dublin skyline with its Clarence Hotel expansion is another example of its ruinous distance from everyday Irish reality.

Bono’s self-promotion fares much better on this side of the Atlantic than at home. For instance, he got away scot-free in the American press after declaring during the Inauguration Concert, “What a thrill for four Irish boys from the north side of Dublin to honor you sir, Barack Obama, to be the next president of the United States.” But Shane Hegarty wrote in The Irish Times that only one of the band now lives on Dublin’s working class north side while Bono has lived more of his life on the south side.

“During the band's performance of ‘In The Name of Love,’” wrote Hegarty, “he described Martin Luther King's dream as ‘Not just an American dream--also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream . . .’ And then, following a long pause reminiscent of a man who'd just realized he'd left the gas on, he added, ‘. . . and also a Palestinian dream.’ This was his big shout out to the Palestinians… You can't help but marvel at this latest expression of Bono's Sesame Street view of the world. Hey Middle East, we just have to have a dream to get along.

“Just ignore the sound of those loud explosions and concentrate on Bono's voice.”

So listen, Bono, if you decide to suck it up and face me, I’m still available. I can’t win a debate, we both know that, and why you’d want to continue to look feeble and cowardly when you have virtually nothing to lose… well, that’s another question I suppose you’ll never be asked.

It doesn’t mean that those questions are going to go away. Maybe for the tamed tigers of the American pop press, but not for me, or for those people in the streets of Dublin calling you a tax cheat, or for the Africans who feel insulted by your ignorance of their lives, or for that matter, the fans who wonder why you insist on siding continually, if slyly, with the powerful against the powerless.


In 2005, the annual Man of Peace award was given to Bob Geldof, despite his promotion of the bloodthirsty Bush and Blair regimes. In mid-December the Nobel Peace Prize laureates who give the award gathered in Paris to bestow it on an even worse choice: Bono.

Bono is no man of peace--he has yet to speak out against any war. Bono is part owner of Pandemic/Bioware, producers of Mercenaries 2, a video game which simulates an invasion of Venezuela. Last year Bono met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discuss plans to set up a new U.S. military command for Africa. Forbes, the magazine Bono co-owns, constantly beats the drums for war (Bono says he was attracted to the magazine because it has a “consistent philosophy”).

Like Sir Bob, Bono sings the praises of some of the most warlike public figures. It starts with Dubya and Blair—Bono praised the UK prime minister for “doing the things he believed in.” He clearly meant to include massive British involvement in the war in Iraq. Bono also has nothing but praise for arch-reactionaries such as Jesse Helms and Billy Graham. In the video for Pat Boone’s video, “Thank You Billy Graham,” Bono intones “I give thanks for the sanity of Billy Graham, a singer of the human spirit.” Interesting. In 1966, Graham followed LBJ to the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast to give a ringing endorsement of the war in Vietnam. “There are those,” Graham said, “who have tried to reduce Christ to a genial and innocuous appeaser; but Jesus said ‘You are wrong—I have come as a firesetter and sword-wielder. I am come to send fire down on earth!” Sing that human spirit, Billy—you’ve got Bono on harmonies. Indeed, surrounded by America’s most hawkish politicians, Bono gave a fawning keynote speech at the 2008 National Prayer Breakfast. In a recent interview with the British music magazine Q, U2 drummer Larry Mullen said he “cringes” when he sees Bono hanging out with George Bush and Tony Blair, adding that those two world leaders should be tried as “war criminals.”

It might seem strange that a group of Nobel Peace Prize winners would anoint Bono as a man of peace. But maybe not. Past Peace Prize winners include Henry Kissinger, puppetmaster of the violent overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende and architect of the bombing of Cambodia, and Bono’s buddy Al Gore, who backed both Gulf wars after voting for the first-strike MX missile.

One of the people who might have injected some new thinking into the Man of Peace festivities in Paris is Tookie Williams. A co-founder of the Crips gang in LA who became a spokesman against the gang life and an author of children’s books while on Death Row, Williams was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize (and once for the Nobel Prize in literature). Of course, Williams could not attend because he died of a lethal injection at San Quentin on December 13, 2005 after California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused worldwide pleas for clemency.

Yet on October 23, there was Bono, the “man of peace,” gushing with praise for Arnold as he gave yet another keynote, this time at the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach. Other speakers included the Governator, his wife Maria Shriver, and Madeline Albright. Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, once said on national television when asked how she could justify the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of Clinton/Gore sanctions: “We think the price is worth it.”

Bono made no mention of the dramatic increase in California poverty caused by Schwarzenegger’s pro-corporate policies. Not a word about the two million children in the state who go hungry or about the immigrants hunted in the streets as if they were animals escaped from a zoo. The main theme of Bono’s rambling talk was poverty in Africa and Africa only, although he did make brief mention of how as an aspiring musician he was inspired by the Clash (ironic since they were artists who made their opposition to war very explicit).

Despite the inspiration that many people take from the anthems Bono has written, there is not one shred of evidence that he disagrees on any issue—war, tax shelters, immigration—with the power brokers he wants us to believe are the last best hope of mankind.

Dave Marsh (along with Lee Ballinger) edits Rock & Rap Confidential, one of CounterPunch's favorite newsletters, now available for free by emailing: rockrap@aol.com. Marsh's definitive and monumental biography of Bruce Springsteen has just been reissued, with 12,000 new words, under the title Two Hearts. Marsh can be reached at: marsh6@optonline.net

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Old 03-20-2009, 07:05 AM   #2
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Old news, he brings the story up again now in the light of U2's new album and tour, to gain publicity.

Bono shouldn't be bothered debating this guy, I'm sure he has more important things to do.

The guy sounds like a spoilt child that is annoyed about not getting what he wanted.

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Old 03-20-2009, 07:31 AM   #3
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I emailed told him he was like a brat that didn't get what he wanted.
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Old 03-20-2009, 08:06 AM   #4
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I would like to thank jaynejenjune for posting this article and I would also like to thank JCOSTER for emailing Marsh and letting him know what you think.

After I have a chance to read this article thoroughly, I will also contact Mr. Marsh and let him know what I think about his perpetual sour grapes campaign against Bono - and encourage all of you to do the same!

To sit in a fansite and complain about something/someone ultimately does nobody any good because it doesn't make a change for good.

But when you write a well-thought response to a perpetrator of garbage and challenge them on their assumptions, they are less likely to do the same in the future.

In the last several months, I have taken on four such writers in the U.K. and Ireland who had some very nasty and untrue things to say about Bono and U2 and even if my letters to them does not change their opinions about Bono & U2, they now know that there are intelligent and interested people who support Bono & U2 who will take them to task when they spew out their avarice toward the band.

It's at least worth a shot.

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Old 03-20-2009, 08:22 AM   #5
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One last comment:

after perusing this article, Marsh is mentioning people that some here may not be familiar with (like Mwenda & Moyo) and occasions that some here may not be familiar with.

IF y'all would like any background on some of the people & occasions that Marsh is mentioning to clarify what the heck he is trying to talk about

I would be more than glad to share my opinions & info that I have about the people & events that Marsh is mentioning to support his contention if y'all think that this would be helpful in any way to those wanting to write Marsh to dispute his contentions.

I would do this in the spirit of unifying our support for Bono & U2 - not in any way trying to "show off".

I would just like this guy to get a taste of what a unified U2 community is capable of in defending their band (in a respectful way, of course).

Let me know.
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Old 03-20-2009, 08:45 AM   #6
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Definitly going to email him and give him my two sense
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:48 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by lauramullen View Post
Definitly going to email him and give him my two sense
Yeah, that'll change his mind.
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:56 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Sad Punk View Post
Yeah, that'll change his mind.
I don't know who this Dave Marsh is. I haven't been following his articles. but it looks to me that his mind is pretty much set. I read this article and I see that the author takes real pleasure in writing shit about Bono. perhaps that's where he gets his kicks from. sad...
so, yeah, I agree with you - he won't change his mind.
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Old 03-20-2009, 11:26 AM   #9
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Do you guys really think Bono needs defending? Don't you think he knows exactly what he's doing and the pros and cons of his actions? Bono is not perfect and the man raises some interesting points. He's just trying to sell papers (or whatever it is he writes for) and Bono's just trying to sell the world on an idea. They're both doing what they perceive as their jobs in the best way they know how. Just from what I've read in this thread, it doesn't seem that either of the two men in question have made any personal attacks that are untrue.

*runs before the BonoGirls throw their sexy boots at me*
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:58 PM   #10
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First article was posted in FYM already.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:38 PM   #11
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Its ok Zu. You are allowed to have your own opinion
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Old 03-21-2009, 02:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by lauramullen View Post
Its ok Zu. You are allowed to have your own opinion
but obviously Dave Marsh isn't
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:15 AM   #13
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I'm a bit disappointed Bono backed off, was looking forward to the debate.
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:05 AM   #14
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It sounds like this guy is just criticizing Bono for not speaking out more against the war (which Bono has said several times that he couldn't do because it would polarize his African work) and is just pointing out things he doesn't like about people Bono has associated with in the past. Is Bono only allowed to hang out with perfect people who do everything right? If so, he'd never meet with any politicians and would not get anything done for Africa.
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:25 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by zuropa_fit View Post
Do you guys really think Bono needs defending? Don't you think he knows exactly what he's doing and the pros and cons of his actions? Bono is not perfect and the man raises some interesting points. He's just trying to sell papers (or whatever it is he writes for) and Bono's just trying to sell the world on an idea. They're both doing what they perceive as their jobs in the best way they know how. Just from what I've read in this thread, it doesn't seem that either of the two men in question have made any personal attacks that are untrue.

*runs before the BonoGirls throw their sexy boots at me*
Not throwing boots, but to state that Bono has never taken a position against any war is just sheer bullshit. The problems is that people like Marsh want Bono to take a particular side and Bono is not about taking sides. All war is bad, period, end of story. But that doesn't make people happy because they want Bono to side with them. As far back as SBS Bono has been taking shit for his position on war. He gets it from both sides. The political right sees Bono as just another liberal but the liberals bitch that he doesn't say or do enough. They don't recognize that Bono has been trying all of his life to get across the point that there is another way, a third way if you will. That is what finally happened in Northern Ireland, neither side "won", they found a new way.

I think the very fact that people are argueing about Bono's approach actually moves the debate forward and Bono understands that. That is why he rarely gets involved in "defending himself". He doesn't feel the need to prove that he is right because what he wants is for people to get engaged. If they get engaged because they think he's wrong then so what. At least they are engaged and involved. The true enemy is indifference and Bono is happy to spark an arguement. Moyo is targeting Bono to get more attention for her book. I wouldn't be surprised if Bono is secretly cheering her on because it is obvious that no matter how hard he tries certain people will insist on seeing his actions as an extension of the old "Sally Struthers" approach to Africa. They refuse to hear that he talks about NOT seeing Africa as a place to be pitied. They refuse to hear that he is calling for PARTNERSHIP with Africa and for free trade. They are locked into an either or debate on AID vs Trade and can't accept the fact that what Bono is saying is that Africa needs BOTH. Bono understands that changing the rules on trade will likely take decades and in the meantime an ungodly percentage of Africa's workforce will die.

People make a big deal out of Bono heckling Mwenda at the TED conference but those who cheer Mwenda and TED for their business approach never mention the fact that the only reason TED was even in Africa in the first place was that they were not able to fulfill one of the wishes they granted Bono and in discussing what was best for Africa it was Bono who pushed for their continued involvement and I think even suggested having the TED conference there. All those business people getting involved in Africa has mostly come about since Bono started his campaigning and the anti-Bono crowd has no idea how many corporate ears Bono has been whispering in.

If Moyo succeeds in inspiring more Africans to get involved and empowered then Bono will be more than happy. I don't think he would bother engaging her directly unless she has a directly damaging effect. Right now she is another voice keeping the debate going. The same can be said for people like Marsh and the other Bono bashers. The idea is to keep people talking and debating. It keeps the arguement going and things happen. Just like the Sarajevo link up during ZooTV. That in and of itself did nothing to help Sarajevo but the debate over it brought the whole situation back to front page news which moved forward the whole issue. People who criticized the band for not really doing anything important do not understand the importance of bringing attention (any kind of attention) to a situation.


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bono, dave marsh

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