Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In the Name of Love

It's somewhat de rigueur in conservative quarters to be upset, disappointed, or underwhelmed -- take your pick -- at Time's choice for Person of the Year. True, Bill and Melinda Gates seem an uninspired selection: what did they do of note this year? You could ask the same of Bono, but yet I think Bono deserves the title -- perhaps not for this year specifically but for a decade and more of good works on behalf of the Africa's poor.

I'm as put off by celebrities holding forth on politics as the next person. For so many of them, it seems a pose; they do it because it's cool or chic. They seem disingenuous and ill-informed. Or they become like political hacks, using social causes as a cudgel to beat Republicans. Bono has never struck me that way. Beyond his obviously sincere concern and his clear knowledge of the subject, more than anything else, it's his willingness to be fair and even-handed about his activism that won me over. For sure, the singer is a liberal, and yet he cares deeply enough about his cause, about the poor and afflicted in Africa, to realize that he will get nowhere be demonizing conservatives, especially when they're the ones holding the purse strings. He has befriended Jesse Helms. He has spoken kindly of George W. Bush. These might not be popular relationships with the Hollywood set or, so I've heard, with Bono's bandmates, but look how they've advanced his cause. He's making a difference.

And on a personal level, that I am no longer across-the-board opposed to foreign aid, that I now believe the US has a responsibility to aid those in need -- these reversals I owe in part to Bono.

Were the choice of Person of the Year mine, I probably wouldn't have picked Bono. But I'm pleased that he received the honor.


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