The Corner

Pro-Bono

In Impromptus today, I have a couple of notes about Bono, the Irish rock star (or pop star, or whatever the appropriate term is). I call him a “stud” and an “hombre.” These comments have occasioned some mail.

What is the reason for my effusions? In the last couple of weeks, Bono has done some interesting things, in concert. In Miami, he spoke a tribute to Dr. Oscar Biscet, the democracy leader in Cuba, recently released from prison. “We are watching, we are watching,” Bono said.

He did not pronounce Biscet’s name correctly. It’s “Bih-SETT,” and Bono Frenchified it. But the sentiment and the act were stirring.

Most pop stars sing the praises of Biscet’s principal tormentor, Fidel Castro. Carole King once crooned to him, “You’ve Got a Friend.” That’s entirely typical. Very rare is the entertainer or celebrity who will criticize the Cuban dictatorship.

Well, praising Oscar Biscet in Miami is no big deal, no act of courage, you might say. Okay — but try this on for size. At a concert in Baltimore, Bono thanked the American people for providing vaccinations and AIDS medicines to Africa. He thanked former president George W. Bush by name. According to a reader of ours, the crowd in the stadium went silent. They had been cheering, but when Bono thanked Bush, they hushed.

I’ll bet. It takes some stones — don’t you agree? — to shout out to GWB at a concert in Baltimore. And Bono has them, obviously.

I’m not a fan of politics in concert settings. I like my concerts politics-free. But 1) Should we classify fundamental human rights, such as Biscet is fighting for, as “politics”? 2) Does thanking a president for attention to Africa constitute politics? (Yeah, I guess so — politics of a kind.) And 3) Everyone knows, or most people know, that Bono is an activist, in addition to a rocker.

Furthermore, Bono didn’t knock anybody, except the Cuban dictatorship, by implication. I say, if we have to have politics, or something like politics, in concert, we could do a lot worse than to have Bono’s type. And, though he is a long way from Charlton Heston — I appreciate him.

(There’s a big GWB word: “appreciate.” Sometimes that was shortened to “’preciate,” as in, “’preciate you.” That particular phrase came out “’preciate-tcha.”)

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