I was going to make a quite different music-related post, but plans changed. Last night my wife and I watched a DVD of U2’s Rattle and Hum. I remembered liking the album when I was a teenager, but had assumed I’d outgrown that sort of thing. I was surprised by how much I actually liked the movie. Bono’s singing and playacting are a bit over the top, and I don’t see why he brandishes a guitar without actually playing it (at least, not audibly). But the lyrics and delivery are honest and heartfelt and the music sounds genuine and original, if not quite what I normally listen to. (Some complaints: the BB King song is butchered, with multiple spliced segments and intervening interviews — the only song to suffer such a fate — and the Dylan collaborations and the Lennon tribute are omitted entirely. But the latter were pretty mediocre anyway, as I remember.)
The most striking moment was in “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, a song about the violence in Ireland, when Bono breaks off mid-song to talk about the bombing that had happened earlier that day (November 8, 1987). I can’t do better than quote his entire rant, as I found it in Wikipedia.
“Let me tell you somethin’. I’ve had enough of Irish Americans who haven’t been back to their country in twenty or thirty years come up to me and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home… and the glory of the revolution… and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and children? Where’s the glory in that? Where’s the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day. Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dying or crippled for life or dead. Under the rubble of the revolution, that the majority of the people in my country don’t want. No more!”
It applies beyond the Irish-American community: many so-called “nationalist” movements are sustained by expatriates. Members of the Sikh-Canadian community kept the Khalistan movement alive, Muslim communities in Europe are more radicalised than communities in Islamic countries. But Bono’s speech particularly sums up what I think about Indian Americans who emigrated 20 or 30 years ago but lavishly fund fascist organisations like the RSS and its siblings, who then go and destroy hospitals in Thane or libraries in Pune or do pogroms in Gujarat. Where’s “garv se kaho, hum hindu hain” in destroying the best-equipped hospital in a community and making patients jump from their beds and run for their lives, because your leader died in that hospital (and for no fault of the hospital’s)? How does destroying valuable antique manuscripts in a leading oriental library demonstrate our superior Hindu culture? Above all, where’s the Hindutva pride in burning innocent defenceless civilians alive, from politicians like Ehsan Jaffrey to hundreds of ordinary people struggling to make a living? And let’s not have that shit about “they started it with the Godhra train”. What connection did the people killed have with the Godhra train?
If the supply of funds from rich, self-styled patriotic Indians in America to these organisations were cut off, India would be a better place.