“Now, if you will indulge me for a moment while I turn to the outsized personality of U2′s singer: in the long, obnoxious history of rock-star activism, an exception should be made for Bono, for he is so sincere, works so hard at it, and does his homework so thoroughly that he’s actually managed to have a significant impact on the world. This is a bit of an inconvenient truth for us cynics; it would be so much easier to write off the whole lot of rock do-gooders as coke-addled overgrown children with messianic delusions. But there’s Bono: friends with Nelson Mandela, successful partner to US presidents of both political parties, perpetual fundraiser for the needy and oppressed all over the world.
I mention all this because at the Seattle concert, Bono appeared to take partial credit for the recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi: the long-imprisoned, would-be leader of Burma. This declaration seemed at first to be the height of hubris. But then Aung San Suu Kyi herself appeared on a video feed thanking the U2 fans for helping secure her release by flooding the Burmese government with petitions. U2 had been mentioning her at every performance for the previous few years, focusing all their star power to shine a light on her plight. It’s easy to criticize Bono’s bombastic approach to philanthropy, but its effectiveness can be little in doubt. I have to admit that the arguments against giving him a Nobel Peace Prize are diminishing each year. Particularly now that the committee has shown a willingness to award it to sitting presidents prior to the completion of their first year in office. Absolutely no disrespect intended to Barack Obama, but Bono has been on the world stage engaging in humanitarian issues for far, far longer than the current President of the United States.” (x)