An Open Letter to Bono about his NY Times column

01.12.09 9 years ago

Dear Bono,

I went out on a limb for you last week here when I applauded the New York Times’ decision to name you a contributor to its Op-Ed pages. Then you turn around and your first piece is about Frank Sinatra, a painting he gave you and how he knew that every song (i.e.: situation), such as “My Way,” could be reinterpreted depending upon which filter we view it through. You believe we can learn a lot about how to deal with today’s uncertain, troubling times by listening to Sinatra through the ages and the unsentimental truths and wisdom he brought to his material. In some oblique ways, you issued a call to arms.

I agree wholeheartedly about Sinatra (especially on the shout out to “One for My Baby.” By listening to Sinatra’s different versions of that song throughout his career, you can learn everything you need to know about what it means to be broken, healed and broken again by life).

But really? You are given a forum in what is, arguably, the most important press outlet in the world, and you wax about Frank and his snipes and praises of Miles Davis? Hey, maybe you haven’t heard, but there’s a little thing happening next week called the presidential inauguration. Barack Obama exemplifies so many of the ideals you and your U2 bandmates espouse. You had nothing to say about that in the world’s “paper of record?” (You wrote a lovely open letter to Obama after his win in November on the Sojourners website, but surely you have more to say on the matter.) The Nobel laureate committee honored you with its “Man of Peace” award last year and you’re mum about the Isreal/Palestinian conflict?

Many people feel rock stars shouldn’t voice their opinions, but few rock stars have the audience–or the perch– you have. Fewer still have taken the time to embrace the platform they’ve been given and learn about issues that matter and use that platform to truly make the world a better place. You have already done that so many times.  Hey, I know writing is hard and maybe my hopes are so unrealistically high for you that nothing short of Moses’ tablets with the Ten Commandments would have impressed me, but I know you can do better. And Frank, wherever he may be, does too.

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