For a brief stint, Thomas Friedman will no longer be the biggest blowhard on the New York Times opinion page. In 2009, Bono will be writing between 6 and 10 columns on "Africa, poverty, and, importantly, the music of Frank Sinatra." God help us.
Devoted Bono Watchers will remember this is not Bono's first foray into journalism. Two years ago, Bono "edited" a single edition of the Independent, the liberal British daily. Counterpuncher Harry Browne summed up the politics of the paper
Even "The 5-Minute Interview", with BBC radio DJ Zane Lowe, finishes with an incongruous, not to say idiotically phrased, question, "Can big corporations make a difference to people's lives?" Lowe sings from Bono's hymnsheet: "The only thing people who are trying to make a difference can do is work alongside corporations. We're not going to abolish big business, people aren't going to stop drinking Starbucks and buying Nike, but you can say to them, 'There's a big difference you can make and if we find a way to make it easier for you, would you contribute?'"If the past is any indicator, we can look forward to NYT columns gushing with praise for any western leader or corporation willing to lend their name to Bono's "cause."
This notion of lowest common denominator activism is the keynote of Bono's signed, somewhat tetchy editorial: "So forgive us if we expand our strategy to reach the high street, where so many of you live and work. We need to meet you where you are as you shop, as you phone, as you lead your busy, businessy lives."
However, Bono, clever lad, has preempted my criticisms of his movement
On the far left, we will meet "better dead than RED", a reaction to big business that is not wholly unjustified. But given the emergency that is Aids, I don't see this as selling out. I see this as ganging up on the problem. This emergency demands a radical centre, as well as a radical edge. Creeping up on the everyday. Making the difficult easy.The idea is that ordinary people can "team up" with people like George Bush, Gordon Brown and Jesse Helms (imagine that degenerate cracker giving two shits about Black people) to help Africa. Sounds plausible, but what happens when real African people decide to resist another threat, like AFRICOM? Will Bono use one of his columns to condemn the U.S. and show solidarity with Africans resisting American imperialism?
I think not. We wouldn't want to upset the rest of the team.
In other celebrity news...
Angelina Jolie, the UN's head celeb, does the "bearing witness" thing in Afghanistan. Last time Jolie visited a country under U.S. occupation, she penned this little ditty (will someone keep these people out of the papers) backing the occupation. Jolie's visit is well-timed considering Obama's promise to surge in Afghanistan.