Saturday 24 March 2018

O'Connor misses point on Bono

Madam – I would have been worried if Brendan O'Connor (Sunday Independent, June 9, 2013) had liked my book, The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). Of the many audiences I had to consider while writing this book for an international publisher, well connected Dublin journalists were at the bottom of the list.

So it's predictable that O'Connor would cherrypick a few asides and explanations for non-Irish readers and pretend they were my core "accusations" against Bono, all the while ignoring my main argument. (Hint: it's in the title.) It's more than predictable that he would attack my failure to hew to the Sunday Independent line on the Troubles. And it's to be expected, I guess, that he would misrepresent me: he says, for example, I infer "from one interview with one guy that Bono doesn't give any money to charity", when, in fact, I do more or less exactly the opposite. (Seriously, see page 146.)

But I am sorry he felt the need to descend to ad hominem, red-baiting me and asking "what the f*** has Browne ever done?". Rather than describe my CV of unpaid activism – which he might object has achieved nothing, and he might be right – I'll answer that question another way: I've written a book (one with lots of shortcomings, Lord knows) that might just persuade some people that the brand of philanthropy carried out by Bono and those for whom he fronts is worse than "imperfect"; that, in fact, it distorts the realities of global poverty, advocates bad "solutions", and burnishes the image of those who profit from exploitation and inequality. Who knows, some readers may even be moved to act to create a more just world, and to act with a vision that isn't limited by the horizons of the powerful.

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