Bono Can Kill You Just By Clapping His Hands

A friend who is an administrator at a progressive church writes me that U2 is in her town this weekend and that the buzz is making her crabby. I understand. It really is a miracle that the band has somehow maintained its reputation for righteousness even as it carts the biggest, most expensive concert set in history around the world, a stage design seemingly cribbed from rejected plans for Battlestar Galactica Cylon base ships. My friend asks if I remember something I told her about Bono’s big sellout. Was it about the phony RED campaign, the stumping for rightwingers in exchange for crumbs for the poor, the substitution of elite sentimentalism for any systemic critique of poverty. I don’t remember. But it’s hard to forget a good punchline. From Eammon McCann’s “May Bono Pay Tax”:

The best response to one of those breathless Bono appeals for uplift came at a Glasgow gig when he hushed the audience to reverent silence before starting slowly to clap. “Every time I clap my hands,” he whispered into the microphone, “a child in Africa dies…”

A voice responded in broad Glasgow accent: “Well, fucking stop doin’ it then.”

UPDATE: A reader points us to evidence that Bono cannot, in fact, kill people just by clapping his hands. But the man is said to be deadly with a pair of Irish Nunchucks.

Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).