U2's Conspiracy of Hope

Twenty five years ago today, on June 15th, 1986, the Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope tour broadcast live on MTV from Giants Stadium.

The Conspiracy of Hope tour was a celebration of our 25th anniversary and it introduced countless Americans to human rights and made life-long Amnesty members.

U2 was part of our movement then (watch their amazing performance in 1986 above!) and they are still with us fighting for justice today.

Bono recently saluted Amnesty on our 50th birthday from the stage during U2′s 360 tour last month:


Southern Africa To Be One Country

Bono, South X' New Head of State

Bono, South Zamalawimbiqueothobabweibialand's new Head of State

I was very excited to read today that ten countries in southern Africa decided to join forces, eliminate borders and become one country. This will make it easier for many Westerners who already think the continent of Africa is just one country; or at least think all the countries are exactly the same and therefore propose the same “one size fits all” solutions over and over again to mostly Western created problems.

Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana and Angola will now be called South Zamalawimbiqueothobabweibialand. Recognizing this will be a challenge to fit on business cards, government officials have declared its ok to just call this new nation South Africa, since before the union it was the only country most Westerners could reliably find on a map.

It was quite a struggle to decide how this new nation would be governed, and there were points where it became quite ugly when dos Santos and Mugabe descended into vicious name calling, as both men are accustomed to longevity as heads of their prior respective states.  In the end, after many rounds of rock/paper/scissors, it was concluded that Bono would lead this new nation forward because it was felt to be the best way to secure debt relief, HIV funding and better coverage in People/US/OK magazine.

For similar reasons; Madonna will be Minister of Education (sorry to all those people who can now expect to lose their homes so she can build more schools), Oprah will be named Cultural Minister (her new talk show will launch in 2012), Brangelina will be appointed co-Ministers of Internally Displaced Persons  (expect lots of fighting between them and Madonna over those displaced for Madonna’s new schools as well as the best photo opps with their adopted children) and Mariah Carey will be Minister of Agriculture (good luck on that starvation diet Mariah!)

One of the first acts of this new nation will be to set up a large lion preserve to promote the image that lions roam free in the streets throughout Africa. Also, media relations will assure that news coverage focuses predominantly on anything bad happening in the region with an emphasis on promoting negative stereotypes, while ignoring positive stories. In particular, media will assure that any stories about the many amazing Africans working to improve conditions within their new nation will continue to rarely be printed because pictures of sad children are considered the only way to get people to care and stories of Africans helping themselves will discourage other celebrities from traveling to region for photo opps and establishing charitable organizations in an attempt to seem less self-absorbed.

Within Amnesty USA, the Southern Africa Co-group welcomes this new nation because it means much less work for us. It was getting very tiresome to lobby ten different governments about human rights conditions. Now, we only have to pester Bono. Oh, and happy April Fool’s Day.

Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance Has Strong Roots

Remarks made by Bono , New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof and President Barack Obama stating they hoped Palestinians would find their Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) or Gandhi completely ignore Palestinian nonviolent resistance to brutal oppression.

The presumption that the Palestinian struggle is mainly violent is disturbing. And the dismissal of the people who have sacrificed time, money and even their lives to fight injustice with nonviolence is callous.

Although Palestinian nonviolent resistance dates back to the early 1900’s, the image of armed and violent Palestinians still prevails.   In the 1970’s and 80’s, Palestinian refugees from camps in foreign countries, seeing no resolution after decades of displacement, chose armed struggle and  more recent suicide bombings in Israel  reinforced the perception.

Several factors have hindered a single, iconic figure from emerging or a cohesive civil disobedience movement from blooming despite its continued use by different sectors of Palestinian society.

Israeli policies are repressive and brutal.  The use of live ammunition, beatings, destruction of property,  rejection of building permits, constant threats, repeated administrative detentions and the escalation in arrests is discouraging and has been effectively obstructive.

Nongovernmental delegations, employees and individuals who are perceived as critical of Israel or sympathetic to Palestinians are increasingly denied entry or proper work permits for the Occupied Territories.

Sami Awad, Coordinator for the Holy Land Trust, a not-for-profit community support organization committed to nonviolence and the teachings of MLK and Gandhi, aptly points out, “Nonviolence is not something that happens overnight.  It’s not a means to end the conflict tomorrow. It’s something that evolves over long periods of time.”


Bono Mentions "Palestinian Dream" in Historic Concert at Lincoln Memorial

I do not know what is more interesting–the fact that U2 leader singer Bono mentioned the word “Palestine” in front of a crowd of a half a million–including President-elect-Barack Obama–or the fact that this very incident is being heralded a major unscripted, even newsworthy part of the concert.

Rolling Stone magazine wrote in its blog about the incident:

The only other seemingly unscripted moment came during U2’s rendition of “Pride (In the Name of Love),” during which Bono suggested Dr. King’s dream is also an Irish, European, African and Israeli dream, adding, with special emphasis, “It is also a Palestinian dream!”

In the blog by the foreign editor of the Times of London, the headline read “Bono and the ‘Palestinian’ Dream.” The Nation magazine praised Bono in an entry called “Bono’s Shout-Out to Palestine,” writing that:

The mention of the Palestinians, in this semi-official setting, with Barack Obama sitting just a few feet away, will not change the circumstance on the ground in Gaza. It is unlikely to inspire a more engaged or functional U.S. policy with regard to the Middle East.

But Bono deserves a measure of credit for reminding the partygoers that peace and justice, for Israel and Palestine is a part of the dream. (emphasis theirs)

UPDATE (Jan 23): Thanks to Debra for pointing that during a rehersal video posted on youTube, Bono can be seen performing the song “Pride” and utters the words “Palestinian dream” and “ceasefire” but does not mention “Israel.” Clip here to watch the video