Does anybody have a nice word to say about Bono?
Pablo Halkyard has a round-up
of recent articles and blog entries attacking the Irish rocker and humanitarian,
which appeared just before William Easterly published an op-ed in the LA Times
Bono doesn’t say about Africa". Even Marc Andreessen,
in something of a running joke, has a series of blog entries entitled simply
and I can assure you that none of them is flattering.
Is this the same man who is going to receive the 2007
Liberty Medal in September? The man whose DATA
nonprofit is extremely highly regarded among development wonks? What has he
done to become the whipping boy for people who thinks he’s concentrating too
much on Africa, at the expense of non-African solutions to African problems
Bhagwati), as well as people who think he’s arrogantly imposing non-African
solutions on Africans who don’t necessarily appreciate his efforts (Brendan
I honestly have no idea why this should be, although I think we can rule out
the theory that all these individuals bought U2’s Pop album in 1997
and are still sore about it. I also don’t think it’s tall
poppy syndrome, given the number of Americans who count themselves among
the Bono bashers.
It does seem to be the case that Bono is much more popular among people who
have met him and been surprised at his grasp of policy debates (Paul
O’Neill, famously) than he is among people who think he’s simply grandstanding
on the cover of Vanity Fair. As for me, I’ve never met the chap, but I’m hesitant
to bash him too much, even though I don’t agree with everything he says. The
administration of George W Bush, for instance, has been much more generous and
constructive towards Africa than that of any previous president – and
I think that Bono deserves some of the credit for making that stance politically
possible. So I’m tempted to ask if it isn’t time to give the man a break.