Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bono at Brighton

Bono addressed the Labour Party Conference at Brighton yesterday. His speech--not surprisingly to those who know something of his work beyond the stage and recording studio--pertained to Africa. Here are a few excerpts:

My name is Bono and I'm a rock star. . . . Excuse me if I appear a little nervous. I'm not used to appearing before crowds of less than 80,000. I heard the word party -- obviously got the wrong idea.

. . .

[Describing how he and his wife Ali became interested in Africa during a month-long stay at an orphanage in Ethiopia in the 1980s:] On our last day at the orphanage a man handed me his baby and said: take him with you. He knew in Ireland his son would live; in Ethiopia his son would die.

I turned him down.

In that moment I started this journey. In that moment I became the worst thing of all: a rock star with a cause.

. . .

Let's be clear about what this problem is and what this problem isn't. Firstly, this is not about charity, it's about justice.

Let me repeat that: This is not about charity, this is about justice. And that's too bad. Because you're good at charity. The British, like the Irish, are good at it. Even the poorest neighbourhoods give more than they can afford. We like to give and we give a lot.

But justice is a tougher standard.

. . .

That's the first tough truth.

The second is that to fight AIDS, and its root cause, the extreme poverty in which it thrives, it's not just development policy. It's a security strategy.

. . .

Listen, I know what this looks like, rock star standing up here, shouting imperatives others have to fulfill. But that's what we do, rock stars. Rock stars get to wave flags, shout at the barricades, and escape to the South of France. We're unaccountable. We behave accordingly.

But not you. You can't. You can't do that. See, we're actually counting on you. Politicians have to make the fight, do the work, and get judged by the results.

. . .

I don't care if you are Old Labour or New Labour. What is your party about if it's not about this--if it's not about equality, about justice, the right to make a living, the right to go on living?

"Justice is a tougher standard." Even from a rock star, it's refreshing to hear a call to a higher standard.