Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Whaddya mean Belafonte's already on the Enemies List?

Talking Donkeys:

quote of the day

Bono when asked if he liked George W:

"Yes. As a man, I believed him when he said he was moved to also do something about the Aids pandemic. I believed him. Listen, I couldn't come from a more different place, politically, socially, geographically. I had to make a leap of faith to sit there. He didn't have to have me there at all. But you don't have to be harmonious on everything -- just one thing -- to get along with someone.

Harry Belafonte, one of my great heroes, an old-school leftist, told me a story about Bobby Kennedy, which changed my life -- indeed, pointed me in the direction I am going now politically.

Harry remembered a meeting with Martin Luther King when the civil rights movement had hit a wall in the early Sixties: "I tell you it was a depressing moment when Bobby Kennedy was made attorney-general. It was a very bad day for the civil rights movement.

"Bobby Kennedy was Irish. Those Irish were real racists; they didn't like the black man. They were just one step above the black man on the social ladder, and they made us feel it. They were all the police, they were the people who broke our balls on a daily basis.

"Bobby at that time was famously not interested in the civil rights movement. We knew we were in deep trouble. We were crestfallen, in despair, talking to Martin, moaning and groaning about the turn of events, when Dr King slammed his hand down and ordered us to stop the bitchin'.

"'Enough of this,' he said. 'Is there nobody here who's got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?'

"We said: 'Martin, that's what we're telling ya! There is no one. There is nothing good to say about him. The guy's an Irish Catholic conservative badass, he's bad news.'

"To which Martin replied: 'Well, then, let's call this meeting to a close. We will re-adjourn when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that, my friends, is the door through which our movement will pass'."

Well, it turned out that Bobby was very close with his bishop. So they befriended the one man who could get through to Bobby's soul and turned him into their Trojan horse.

Harry became emotional at the end of this tale: "When Bobby Kennedy lay dead on a Los Angeles pavement, there was no greater friend to the civil rights movement. There was no one we owed more of our progress to than that man."

Whether he was exaggerating or not, that was a great lesson for me, because what Dr King was saying was: Don't respond to caricature -- the left, the right, the progressives, the reactionary. Don't take people on rumour. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause."


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