Foreign Aid

Bono: Send in the Clowns To Beat ISIS

U2 frontman makes some good points in congressional testimony but mostly wallows in showbiz solipsism.


NBC News screen cap

Irish singer Bono addressed a Senate subcommittee inquiring into the "causes and consequences of violent extremism and the role of foreign assistance."

When the conversation turned to how best to combat rising Islamic terrorism, Bono called sending in the shock-comedy troops. Cereally:

I think comedy should be deployed…The first people that Adolf Hitler threw out of Germany were the dadaists and surrealists. It's like, you speak violence, you speak their language. But you laugh at them when they are goose-stepping down the street and it takes away their power. So I am suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen, thank you.

You ask a general how to beat ISIS, he's gonna tell you to send in bombs and troops. You ask a diplomat the same question, she'll you to use diplomacy. You ask a carpenter how to beat ISIS, he's gonna tell you to use a hammer. So it shouldn't be surprising that a showbiz guy like Bono tells you to send in the clowns. Which, to be fair, is better than sending in high-art types or classical musicians. As I've noted elsewhere, people have named revolutions after rock bands but no one ever named one after Van Cliburn.

Let's give Bono some artistic license here when he suggests that artists (not comedians, by the way) were the first victims of the Nazi government (sadly, many groups can claim that sickening prize). Still, the idea that "going pffft in Der Fuhrer's face" was a major front in the war against Nazi aggression is a bridge too far. Anyone who seriously thinks that The Little Dictator or Bugs Bunny cartoons—as opposed to massive amounts of bombs, troops, tanks, bullets, and the like—turned the tide should have his head examined.

Which isn't to say that Bono didn't say some things worth considering. In the past, he's noted (with sadness!) that increasing global trade has done more to alleviate extreme poverty than aid and in his comments yesterday, he said:

'When aid is structured properly, with a focus on fighting poverty and improving governance, it could just be the best bulwark we have against the extremism of our age,' the rock star and anti-poverty campaigner testified.

But should U.S. leaders heed his call for a "Marshall Plan" for the Middle East? No, for the same reasons that held a few years ago. As even the World Bank acknowledges, increased aid erodes "the quality of governance." 

(Incidentally, the whole Marshall Plan invocation is stupendously wrong as a matter of economic history. As Tyler Cowen wrote more than 30 years ago, the aid package's role in post-war recovery is a myth: "The countries which got the most help, like Greece and Austria, didn't begin to recover until the aid was nearing its end. Others, like France, Germany and Italy, were recovering even before the help arrived.")

So if not sending in massive amounts of comedians and foreign aid, what is to be done? For starters, it's probably a good idea not to spend 15 years bombing and occupying the Middle East as a prelude to fixing things up. Seriously, the lack of serious discussion about the role of war and foreign policy in conversations about "the rise of extremism" is nothing short of baffling to me. Second, the United States and other Western nations might think less about getting more involved in the day-to-day running of the Middle East and more about doing business with those countries and allowing as many people who want to leave the area find safe passage and a future in our own nations. That may be less dramatic and spectacular than letting a million ribbon-cutting ceremonies bloom at new buildings and rec centers built with foreign aid, but it would have the advantage of possibly actually helping people.

Here's another thing to consider: Islamic terrorism in Europe is being conducted primarily by Muslims born and raised in Europe itself. One of the main places that such actors are radicalized are prisons, where many of them end up because of petty crime and drug offenses. As The Influence reported recently:

An estimated 12 percent of the population of France is Muslim, while a staggering 50-70 percent of France's prison population is estimated to be Muslim. In Belgium, about 5 percent of the population is Muslim; prison figures are unreliable, but unconfirmed claims that Muslims are disproportionately represented in Belgian prisons would be in line with other European countries. (By way of comparison, in the UK, where the overall Muslim population is about 3-4 percent, the prison population is closer to 11 percent Muslim.)

There is no panacea to terorrism which, like crime, will always be with us. What "we" (meaning pluralistic, Western nations) might do is create societies that actually find meaningful ways for outsiders to assimilate (America does this well, Europe doesn't) and to not constantly intervene in places where our power to destroy is always going to be far, far greater than our ability to—what's that old term?—"nation build."

This seems like a good time to trot out "Everybody Loves Me, Baby," Don McLean's allegorical critique of U.S. foreign policy that appeared on his epic and damn-near-flawless American Pie LP. Take a spin:

NEXT: Virginia's System of Injustice

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  1. “Cereally”

    Nick, you’re a 52 year old man.

    Stop that.

    1. I came in here to encourage him!

      It could be a doge meme. Such hip, so snapchat, much youth culture!

      1. There weren’t even any gifs. How the fuck is my Millennial mind supposed to understand so many words??!?!?!

    2. It is getting pretty bad. Its like he needs to get it out of his system.

  2. I’m not a fan of Amy Schumer, but I don’t want to see her beheaded.

    1. A full body liposuction might not be the worst thing in the world though.

      1. Got to disagree.

        The looser the waistband the deeper the quicksand

    2. It would be her funniest bit ever.

  3. U2 was performing in Glasgow, and after finishing a song Bono called for quiet from the audience. Once the auditorium was completely silent, he began clapping his hands – slowly, once every several seconds. Then he said, “Every time i clap my hands, a child in Africa dies of starvation.”

    A voice came from the crowd: “Well then quit fookin’ doin’ it, ye mean bastard!”

    1. I hate when they do stuff like that.

    2. Yes, and who would be to blame but Africans? Unless, of course, we bad White People are there, actively killing their asses.

  4. In general, I’m in favor of Congress wasting as much time as possible. But most people would strongly disagree with this. So, why is the Senate discussing serious issues with entertainers?

    1. Srsly? 1) Because it’s the only way that lawyer dweebs get to socialize with headline entertainers like Bono. 2) Because US Senators are just as stupid as everyone else who believes that entertainers have special insight into things like this.

      1. Yeah, really.

        At some level this all just breaks down into an excuse for the rich, famous, and powerful to hang out with each other and massage eachother’s egos.

    2. I was going to ask the same thing. But, to be fair, Bono has been involved with a lot of foreign aid projects. Has he learned anything from it? Debatable. Does some credentialed board member of a non-profit with a degree in political science know more? I doubt it. You can find expertise in unlooked for places.

      1. Here’s the thing about celebrity entertainers. They have a bully pulpit. They can get access to politicians by virtue of the desire of those politicians to be photographed with celebrities, get autographs for the kids, etc.

        There is nothing that excludes celebrity entertainers from developing expertise in matters of aid work, foreign policy, etc. But there is also nothing in the core skill set of entertainers as a class which gives them special expertise in this. Sometimes you end up with an entertainer who also has serious skills in other areas; Heddy Lamar basically invented spread-spectrum radio, for instance. But given that the core skill set of entertainers is entertaining they are, as a group, not more likely to be adept at foreign policy than any other group of randomly-selected people; possibly less so since they feel things rather than think about things (professionally).

      2. With Bono, “involved” usually means schmoozing with politicians in developed countries, and convincing them to give away taxpayers’ money to projects in the undeveloped world, without allowing the public to have any say in the matter. Meanwhile, Bono himself moves his businesses across borders to escape paying his own share of taxes. From what I can tell, none of these “generous” charitable act have changed the world, although they have done wonders for Bono’s PR. I’m guessing most of these pet projects go the way of most foreign aid:

        “Most foreign aid is a transfer of wealth from the middle class in rich countries to the super-rich of poor countries.”

        I forget who said this, but it’s true.

    3. So, why is the Senate discussing serious issues with entertainers?

  5. “Irish singer Bono addressed a Senate subcommittee inquiring into the “causes and consequences of violent extremism and the role of foreign assistance.”

    So we already have clowns addressing the problem, and I am not talking about Bono. Were I there I would have passed out red noses to everyone sitting on the committee who thought it was a good idea to have that guy address the issue.

    1. Beat me to it: we’ve already sent a lot of clowns to the Middle East to “fix” things.

  6. Artists like Bono are an inherently narcissistic bunch that often feel that their work is far more important and consequential than it actually is.

    The satirical kabarets of 1920s Berlin did absolutely nothing to stop the rise of the Third Reich nor did Woody Guthrie’s guitar kill any fascists. It’s all one gigantic conceit that belies the fact that arts and entertainment is primarily about escapism from the realities of life.

    1. But this Hippie Music Festival will be the one to change the world. I just know it!

      1. George Clooney’s got some smug he’d like to show you.

    2. so soft power is basically a lie? while i agree that any individual entertainer has nil influence on politics, music & film has an enormous cultural impact that can play a role in organic political change. it would be a mistake, for example, to discount the role that american entertainment played in the eventual fall of the soviet union: not through direct appeals like writing songs about why Stalin sucked, but by exposing Soviet citizens to the idea of a social order that does not revolve around the state.

  7. If only terrorism could be defeated by vintage amps, 27 different guitar pedals, fuzzboxes, modulation, and rack- mounted effects processors, man.

    1. Just wait until we unleash Slashtone upon them.

    2. As realistic and helpful as anything in Gillespie’s articles.


  9. So I am suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen, thank you.

    Sure, the Senate could do that. Why the fuck not?

    *Not that I have any particular objection to Cohen being burned alive.

    1. I would prefer they send Chuck Schumer. Although he is not intentionally funny.

      1. Oooh….I like that idea!

  10. Making jokes about other cultures is not okay.

    1. What? You don’t like my witticisms concerning hotdish?

  11. Hopefully Bono has noticed that ISIS’s hecklers tend to use guns, not words.

  12. “it’s probably a good idea not to spend 15 years bombing and occupying the Middle East as a prelude to fixing things up. Seriously, the lack of serious discussion about the role of war and foreign policy in conversations about “the rise of extremism” is nothing short of baffling to me.”

    What’s really baffling is that Reason continues to employ a moron like Nick Gillespie. It’s been discussed, Nick, and your theory was found wanting by anyone who actually has any knowledge of world affairs, such as myself. Worse, ISIS keeps losing territory and people in Syria/Iraq.

    1. I was there 25 years ago. I seriously doubt bombing has made the place much worse. And there were already extremists there – some of whom decided it was a cool idea to drive up to the First Marine Division (the whole fucking division!) in an SUV and start shooting an AK at us. That story did have a funny ending.

      My Platoon Sgt. was a Beirut Vet – where they attacked the Marines sent to save the PLO from the Israeli Army.

      1. So what was the funny ending….

        1. They replied: “The Aristocrats!”

    2. anyone who actually has any knowledge of world affairs, such as myself


      1. Who are you to tell a homeschooled Canadian preteen what he can and can’t be an expert on, huh?!?

    3. Why are you here, Cytotoxic? Seriously. The exit is right over there. You don’t have to read Gillespie. Surely there is another forum that could benefit from your erudition. Why aren’t you over there?

    4. Cytotoxic,

      I share your inclination to avoid the reflexive tendency to blame all problems on US foreign policy. Too many people tend to rely on the facile reply that if US wasn’t supporting Israel or various governments, or occupying places, those places wouldn’t be full of insane, anti-American terrorists. That sort of rhetoric, often employed by the anti-war left during the Iraq war, was just stupid and gross. In many cases, it traces back to socialist narratives about global capitalism and the supposedly oppressive influence of American hegemony, and has little to do with actual American military activities. Sometimes, it is based on pure lies like the one that the US sold Iraq chemical weapons, or that we “installed” Saddam Hussein. All of this grossly overstates America’s ability to control who holds power in that part of the world. Stupid, gross, and wrong.

      HOWEVER, the fact that the left is largely full of degenerate marxists spouting distorted narratives about US foreign policy in the middle east doesn’t mean that specific aspects of US foreign policy haven’t influenced or shaped events in some way.
      For instance, it is a fact that US intervention is largely responsible for the collapse of a Ghadaffi regime in Lybia. It’s also not unreasonable to say that US intervention in Syria (both of the covert military kind, and the overt diplomatic pressure) helped to create the breeding ground for ISIS.

      1. That is a level of nuance a tad above Nick’s pay grade. I wonder how many more french nuclear reactors would have been needed to allow saddam to realize his inner dreams of peace. That is the kind of western trade we’re talking about, isn’t it?

      2. Not to mention us intervention in Iran. It’s a discussion on how much harm US foreign policy does or how little. I think the argument that it’s done more good than harm is ludicrous though.

        A Darwinian cynic might say all our beneficence is just holding back history. Saudi Arabia should have collapsed decades ago, and sure there would be bloodshed, but delaying the inevitable and propping up that medieval state won’t likely stop that. Much of us foreign policy seems akin to trying to hold in diarrhea indefinitely.

    5. Cyto,
      You have knowledge of world affairs?
      I’ll need a cite on that.

  13. Making fun of the original Muhammad didn’t work so great. He was thin-skinned to an extreme and somehow passed it down in his crazy cult. Satire at his expense always provoked an insanely violent reaction.

    I give you Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society….._poets.htm

    1. My favorite Muhammad moment from the Hadith is when he melted iron and used it to torture a man until he told Muhammad where buried treasure was.

      Then Muhammad killed the man and all the men in his village before raping his daughter.

      1. My favorite was when he, Jesus, Buddha, Moses, and Sea-Man teamed up to save the country from David Blaine.

        1. Real convenient that you’d leave out Krishna, Laozi, and Joseph Smith, you cultural imperialist you.

      2. Hey, if Allah (through Muhammad) says it’s okay, then it’s okay.

      3. A Game of Thrones fan, was he?

        1. Khal Drogo is Mohammed? I can dig it.

  14. People who expect every answer from a celebrity to every public question to be beyond reproach are going to be hit hard by this story.

  15. When Bono earned my respect:

    “Aid is just a stopgap,” he said. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

    YT vid

    1. = we need the IMF and World Bank to stop luring developing countries into a cycle of debt servitude.

  16. Didn’t that guy die in a skiing accident like 20 years ago?

    1. Perhaps you’d like to cher your story with us?

  17. Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen

    I’m for it. And if Sacha Baron Cohen doesn’t come back then, well, that’s just the price you pay for peace.

    1. I assume Bono is sending Schumer to make sure Cohen doesn’t come back.

  18. One man’s opinion of Bono (and others)

    Just for kicks

    He may be an anarcho-syndicalist, but I dig him.

  19. “Send somebody else. I’m much too busy to do it myself.”

  20. I think the idea that Islamic extremism has to be fought on the cultural front as much as the military front is pretty sound.

    But flying in a bunch of western celebrities isn’t going to change the culture. That has to emerge from within. Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen are probably far too ignorant of the culture to effectively critique it through humor, and even if they weren’t, as outsiders they won’t have legitimacy in the eyes of the people who’s opinions you need to change.

    Bono is still exhibiting a very top-down mindset on this.

    1. “I think the idea that Islamic extremism has to be fought on the cultural front as much as the military front is pretty sound.”

      +1 cultural influence. Get the local kids hungry for their MTV (please insert whatever currently represents the MTV of the 80’s)

      1. please insert whatever currently represents the MTV of the 80’s

        Snaptube? I dunno.

        1. Kardashian selfies?

    2. Fighting a brutal, totalitarian culture on the cultural front only works when you remove their ability to reliably kill people who threaten the culture with speech. If the only way to do that is by killing the shit out of them, then you really only have a military solution.

      1. This.

        People who are afraid of having their heads cut off aren’t going to find jokes about the guys with swords very funny. It only becomes funny when the guys with swords CAN’T actually go up to their house, bash the door in, and behead their children in front of them.

  21. “Irish” singer Bono

    Why’d you have to go there? Keepin God’s chosen people down, man. Keeping us down.

    1. Why did God create alcohol?

      To keep the Irish from taking over the world.

  22. If you hate stupid nicknames, “Bono” has been one of the world’s stupidest nicknames for forty years now!

    1. If I recall…he legally changed his name to Bono Vox “because that means Good Voice in Latin”. My fuzzy recollection of Latin tells me that it actually means “of the good voice” but whateves.

      1. Something I found here:

        Hewson and his friends were part of a surrealist street gang called “Lypton Village” that like most gangs had a ritual of nickname-giving. Hewson had several names: first, he was “Steinvic von Huyseman”, then just “Huyseman”, followed by “Houseman”, “Bon Murray”, “Bono Vox of O’Connell Street”, “Bona Vox” and finally just “Bono”.

        This is so fucking retarded, I think I actually believe it.

    2. It’s still nowhere near as retarded as “Block Yomomma.” Congratulations, i guess.

  23. When it comes to helping other nation-states and their people, sometimes there is just no good answer. Some time ago I read an article about Haiti, after the most recent devastating earthquake. Tons of money and aid were spent on Haiti for all the usual reasons. But the article talked specifically about the plight of two Haitian doctors who were shut out of forming their own practices. The point was that how can craftsmen, laborers, professionals, etc. get their businesses and the local economy going when the things they wanted to provide were already being given out for free? It’s tough, but I think after the past half century or so the evidence is clearer than ever that being self-sufficient and economically viable requires systems to be built from the ground up, not seeded by philanthropists.

    1. We just need better TOP MEN

    2. And, closer to home, “Please Stop Helping Us.”

      “… an outstanding new book by Jason Riley about blacks in America. Its title is Please Stop Helping Us. Its theme is that many policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum-wage laws to “affirmative action” quotas.”

      This obviously doesn’t speak to the military “solutions” regarding helping other countries’ political problems, but it’s related.

      1. …policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum-wage laws…

        Harming minorities is an intended feature, not a bug, of minimum wage laws.

    3. People always think of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan as indictments of US military power. That is wrong. They are indictments of foreign aid. All those conflicts were were aid programs with guns. And the truth is you can’t fix a country from the outside. And you make it worse by trying to do so.

  24. He is not wrong. Ridicule has always been a very potent weapon against evil. One of the dumbest and most counter productive things we do is treat radical Islamists like they are some kind of super villains. It just makes the movement more attractive to prospective losers who want to join. Worse still, when you combine our mawkishness about terrorism and our tendency to make these people into something they are not with the PC obsession to never offend any Muslim, you end up completely defenseless from an ideological standpoint.

    In some ways people are right that you can’t defeat an ideology with a gun, thought they certainly help. You can’t defeat with only a gun. You have do also discredit it and take away, to us a Postrel term, its glamour and appeal. You defeat radical Islam not just by murdering its adherents wherever they are found but also by mercilessly mocking it and its adherents. They are totally unworthy of respect and anyone who wants to be associated with it is a comical loser of the highest order.

    1. Problem is that the progs don’t want to fight it on either front. In and of itself, that would just make them pussies. However, given the amount of power that they hold in the West — let’s just say that holding one guy’s hands behind his back while someone else pounds on him does not make you neutral or a peacekeeper, it makes you a participant on the side of the guy throwing the punches.

      1. Sure it does. Progressives are totally narcissistic and self loathing. The entire point of their existence is to assert their virtue supremacy over other Westerners. If allowing radical Muslims to murder and perhaps ultimately destroy western civilization, is necessary for Progs to assert their virtue supremacy, then so be it. They really are that narcissistic.

  25. You know what’s not funny?
    A) Getting your head cut off.
    B) Being at actual risk of having you head cut off.
    C) Seeing your friends and family members have their heads cut off.

    Comedy can be good at undermining power, but ONLY if that power lies in people’s perceptions.
    It can only work if the power of ISIS is based on imaginary fears. When you are dealing with people who are willing to actually deploy extreme violence to get their way, making fun of them doesn’t stop them from cutting off your head. In fact, it makes it more likely that you’ll get your head cut off.

    Comedy is the sort of thing that only works in a democracy or with a monarch who wants to be loved. When you have a ruler who doesn’t mind being feared and is willing to rule through brute force it is totally ineffective.

    1. That is not totally true Hazel. The Communists were most certainly real and most certainly had the power to do and did a lot of evil. Same with the Nazis. Yet, things like music and art that lampooned them did real damage to their cause.

      Yes, comedy doesn’t help you when a bullet gets put through your head. Comedy and ridicule alone will not defeat radical Islam. But comedy can be an important part of discrediting it.

      1. The Nazis were defeated by military force. Comedy had nothing to do with it. Charlie Chaplin made fun of Hitler from the safety of a fucking ocean away. His film had zero effect on the Nazi’s ability to maintain power or to invade other countries.

        Communism imploded under the weight of it’s own contradictions.
        And that was in the latter stage, a couple of generations after Stalin, and only after Gorbechav introduced Perestroika and Glasnost, which explicitly protected dissenting speech. It could not have happened in the Stalinist era. It happened because the USSR stopped being willing to ruthlessly kill the comedians.

        1. You confuse the ideologies with the nations that adopted them.

    2. Hell no, when you have a Stalin, comedy is the only thing that can keep you sane. Mark Steyn mentioned (probably false, but I’m at work so can’t check my Black Book of Communism) statistic that at time of Stalin’s death there were 200,000 people imprisoned for telling jokes.Even if the number is exaggerated,thousands of people knew the risks and though them worth anyway. And the state thought them worth suppressing. Shit, I’m sure even in Raqa itself, there are dozens of jokes taking the piss out of people who’ll behead you if they hear you tell them.

      Anyone who thinks Russians have no sense of humor is horribly wrong.

      1. Considering that in his heyday, Stalin was executing about 14,000 people per day to make his economic policies really sink in, I would say 200k in gulags for telling jokes is a conservative estimate.

      2. Do note that the USSR lasted around 40 years after Stalin’s death.

        It was perestroika and glasnost that brought about the end of communism, and that is because those policies meant that you *could* tell jokes without getting executed.

  26. Bono addressed a Senate subcommittee

    Stop right there.

    What’s next – Ke$ha gives the response at the next State of the Union address?

    1. That’s what I was thinking. But I’m sure some Senator’s kids got some cool autographs, so all’s well that ends well.

  27. I look forward to the next U2 album featuring a cartoonish Mohamed image.

    Perhaps the lead cut can be a song mocking ISIS.

  28. Maybe I’m just getting my classical butt-hurt on, but it always seems like Nick is bagging on the fine arts, and especially classical music (e.g., the Van Cliburn jabs, jokes about Cleveland and its symphony).

    Hey Nick – pop music has been ascendant for what, 70 years now? We get it, no one plays art music and no one listens to it. The barbarians have won. Stop pretending that the-kids-and-their-rock-and-roll are fighting the establishment. The-kids-and-their-rock-and-roll are the establishment, and they have been for a long time. The Velvet Underground is neither hip nor edgy. They are squarely in the Pop Music Politburo. The most subversive thing you can do these days is give pop music the finger and blast some Rossini. (And yes, I chose Rossini because that also pisses off the contemporary post-modernist/minimalist/post-minimalist/ fill-in-the-blankist hack composers who occupy modern academia).

    1. All the kids these days listen to the Bono on the Googletubes. Nick knows such things.

      1. Kids. Lawn. Departure.

    2. Pretty much that. But classical music has no one to blame for its demise other than itself. Classical music like pretty much all fine art in the 20th Century committed suicide. Artists stopped making music anyone wanted to listen to and instead started making music that appealed only to an increasingly insular group of snobs who liked the music for the single reason that the rubes did not.

      Its not like classical music is dead. Millions of people still listen to Mozart and Bach and the other greats and always will. It is just that no one listens to the crap that was written in the 20th Century. And they never will because the artists wrote it for the single purpose of it not appealing to a wide audience.

      1. It is just that no one listens to the crap that was written in the 20th Century.

        uh, what?

        i think Ravel, Bartok, Stravinski, Debussy, and Faur? are all much-listened to.

        1. Only in comparison to the rest of the crap that was produced. And Ravel is loathed by the academy. Gershwin and Copeland are also listened to a lot. And boy are they hated for it.

          And even the most popular modern composers’ audiences are dwarfed by the audience of the greats of the 18th and 19th Century.

        2. And Richard Strauss, Faure (best requiem since Mozart), Edward Elgar, Gustavo Mahler and Anton Bruckner’s later works; Percy Granger too.

          John’s head is in his ass as per usual. The tail end of the 19th and first few decades of the 20th century were one of the great musical epochs imo.

      2. So true. I don’t want to become Cato the Elder, but if I put on Salome or Rites of Spring, I want to go back in time and choke their composers. Great job, guys, you correctly predicted demise of Europe in WWI and subsequent emergence of new modernity. Was it worth putting the bullet into the head of the 250 years of musical tradition?

        1. I can’t stand Stravinky. The only good thing I will say about him is that at least he isn’t Mahler.

          1. I wish I could just say “to hell with you,” but the man is a really good composer. He’s like Dostoevsky for me – sure I don’t like what he does, but fuck me if I can come up with easy and good argument against it.

            Though, let’s add Prokofiev to the list of people who don’t hate music – Romeo and Juliet and Peter and the Wolf are both a lovely antidote to atonal cacophony that most ‘classical’ composers produce.

            1. to hell with youto hell with you

              To clarify, that’s what I want to say (but can’t) to Stravinsky, not you, John.

          2. Mahler’s 5th is sublime. The adagietto? One of the best pieces of the century. You blaspheme.

      3. Technology has also driven innovation to new mediums. Orchestral music was replaced by electronic, painting by photography. No one knows any famous oil painters from the last few decades but everyone knows Ansel Adams.

        1. To be sure, orchestral music still thrives – in movie soundtracks. Hans zimmer and Ennio morricone and James Horner and such

      4. A lot of what is new in a similar style to clasical music are movie and tv scores. It still exists, but only rarely as a singular art form that anyone listens to for itself.

        1. We probably have movies to thank for common knowledge of most classical artists too. Would as many people know about Mozart and Beethoven without Amadeus and Clockwork Orange?

          1. I think so. I know a good number of people who have never seen either of those movies. But I don’t know anyone who has never heard of the composers.

            1. They were just examples. Most people don’t know about classical artists from a love of classical music

              1. And with my generation, clockwork orange is probably the main source people learn about Beethoven. Public schools don’t teach European history

                1. So depressing.

          2. Honestly, Looney Tunes are probably the most to thank – WB had a studio orchestra on retainer, music was copyright-free, and they needed new cartoons every week. Why not go with the proven quality?

            1. Looney Tunes for me, too

      5. By the 1950s composers were deliberately shunning bourgeois audiences and writing highly-specialized (read: “shit”) compositions appealing only to other composers and critics with sufficiently-developed musical tastes. Hence the hatred for enjoyable composers such as Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, and even Prokofiev. Read Milton Babbitt’s 1958 article “Who Cares If You Listen?” which summarizes this attitude. Thankfully, those dark days are behind us.

        1. Schoenberg comes to mind when you say ‘shit.’ Atonal nonsense.

    3. +1 Closing of the American Mind

    4. And if you really wanted to piss off the current hacks, you would listen to Brahams.

      1. Anything with a recognizable melody pisses off the modern music establishment, because Reactionary.

        1. Don’t oppress me with your bourgeois thirds and pentatonic scales man.

          1. Years ago the wife and I had a subscription to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. One concert included a new composition by one of their clarinetists. And I thought it was crap. Atonal, non-melodic..whatever. And for some affected reason, the performer had to move around to different locations on the stage to play different parts. I have no idea why. So it finally, FINALLY ends, and the crowd is on its feet. Standing ovation ! Bravo ! And I’m sitting, thinking. WTF ? That sounded like shit.

            1. My wife drags me to the Washington National Opera every year. This year they did a opera by some clown named Phillip Glass called Appomattox. It was horrible and a complete fraud. The guy took actual speeches of historic figures, pieced them together into a semi coherent plot and put it to repetitive music. It was a complete joke.

              The genius of opera is that it combines interesting music with lyrics that say something and advance the plot. A lot of popular music has very nice melodies. It also has ridiculous lyrics, because symbols. It is one thing to write a nice tune, it is quite another to write interesting and meaningful lyrics to go with it and have it fit into a plot on top of that. Opera does that. This opera didn’t. It was a complete fraud and a rip off.

              Of course every half wit in the hall gave it a Standing Ovation and the con man himself took a bow from the audience.

              1. ”some clown named Phillip Glass”

                He’s not ”some clown,” grampa.

                1. Yes he is. He owes me too hours of my life for his crap attempt at writing an opera. I know exactly who he is and he is most certainly a fucking ass clown con man.

                  1. Glass has made some good film soundtracks; the repetition works for those. Not sure I’d want to listen to a symphony by him.

                    I remember liking Arvo Part for a minute. But the he just seemed to repeat that first minute over and over again and I got bored. God I love Wagner.

              2. “…. and put it to repetitive music.”

                That is the essence of Glass’ style.

      2. No, tell them you listen to Wagner. ‘NAZIIII!!!!!’

  29. I’m trying to understand why the Senate is soliciting advice from Bono for basically any reason. Is a renowned expert on counter-terrorism? On the Middle East? Anything?

    1. No. But honestly, could he be any more stupid than most of the people who are?

    2. He knows the middle east the way Meryl Streep knows alar.

  30. Did I miss something? Why is Bono testifying for congress?

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  32. There is no panacea to terorrism which, like crime, will always be with us. What “we” (meaning pluralistic, Western nations) might do is create societies that actually find meaningful ways for outsiders to assimilate (America does this well, Europe doesn’t)

    Or, we might stop importing so many people from fundamentally incompatible cultures in the first place.

    Voila! Problem solved!

    1. Because if there’s one thing government is historically good at, it’s deciding what cultures are acceptable and enforcing bans on bad cultures.

  33. Here’s why we have celebs testifying about serious matters:

    “Robert De Niro wants scientists to ‘find the truth’ about autism and vaccines”…..-vaccines/

    Wanna bet he already knows what they *better* find?

    1. Vaccine truther.

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  36. First I read this line, that we should be:

    …..”allowing as many people who want to leave the area find safe passage and a future in our own nations.”

    Leaving aside for a moment that the number of people who want to ‘leave the area” might be rather large, in the next paragraph was this line:

    “Here’s another thing to consider: Islamic terrorism in Europe is being conducted primarily by Muslims born and raised in Europe itself.”

    Isn’t there a contradiction here ?

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  39. The funniest thing is the identity of the Senator who invited Bono………

    Lindsey Fucking Graham!

  40. ” Send in the Clowns To Beat ISIS”

    Yeah, I don’t think sending in both houses of congress and the current president will beat daesh.

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  43. Get over yourself, Mr. Bono. Do you know why comedy isn’t going to solve radical Wahabist terrorism? It’s the same reason why pop songs about “war isn’t the answer” or “give peace a chance” hasn’t resulted in worldwide nuclear disarmament… because those “solutions” don’t address the conditions which gave rise to the problem in the first place.

    Must be nice to drift through life with (literally) rose-colored glasses, thinking that no trouble is too big for a millionaire pop star’s “magic touch” to fix.

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  45. Actually, Bono’s idea of focusing on using humor and satire to attack ISIS is something that should be high up on the action items list. ISIS has been winning the propaganda war, promising the make men of thousands of young people going nowhere fast. No jobs, no girlfriends, no future. So they get a gun and you get to murder, rape and pillage as much as you desire, and it all sounds really cool. Instead they should be characterized as the losers they really are, no girl would want to hold their hand.

    1. Yeah! Just look how far back The Daily Show has already pushed ISIS!

  46. But! But! But! Music? You know, the answer to everything, right?

  47. RE: Bono: Send in the Clowns To Beat ISIS
    U2 frontman makes some good points in congressional testimony but mostly wallows in showbiz solipsism.

    We should listen to Bono.
    He made a fortune in music.
    All musicians know such more about international relations, government and politics than diplomats, journalists, soldiers and intelligence analysts.
    Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

  48. Let me know when this ass clown sings Friday, Bloody Friday at the 1st Jhiadi Aid? I don’t want to miss all the peaces.

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