Letter 5: May 21, 2003
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SUBJ: U2 Fans Ask You to Remember the Hands that Built America

Oh my love, it's a long way we've come
From the freckled hills, to the steel and glass canyons
From the stony fields, to hanging steel from the sky
From digging in our pockets for a reason not to say goodbye

These are the hands that built America
(Russian, Sioux, Dutch, Hindu)
Oh, oh oh, America / Hands
(Polish, Irish, German, Italian)

Last saw your face in a watercolour sky
As sea birds argue, a long goodbye
I took your kiss, on the spray of the new land star
You gotta live with your dreams, don't make them so hard

And these are the hands, that built America
(The Irish, the Blacks, the Chinese, the Jews)
Ah, ah ah, America / Hands
(Korean, Hispanic, Muslim, Indian)

Of all of the promises, is this one we could keep
Of all of the dreams, is this one still out of reach

(Oh oh-dream, oh love)

It's early fall, there's a cloud on the New York skyline
Innocence, dragged across a yellow line
These are the hands that built America
These are the hands that built America
Ah America
Ah America

"The Hands That Built America" Music: U2, Lyrics: Bono.

The hands that built America came from many countries that are now being
decimated by the AIDS/HIV pandemic. Now we look at the homelands from
which our ancestors came to this country seeking freedom (or in the case
of African-Americans, were forced into slavery in this country, and who
did not experience real freedom until the 20th century), and we feel
powerless to help our relatives and others in those countries. Why? 
Because we lack the freedom to have control over our own tax dollars,
which many of us would re-apportion significantly from their current use
by corporate, Elite politics.

As we wrote the other day, today the richest nations give Africa $7
billion dollars less each year than they did ten years ago. Meanwhile
Sub-Saharan Africa pays $40 million PER DAY on debt repayments. How
can these people ever expect to overcome this economic inequity and
start to have the resources to experience the freedom that our ancestors
sought in this country? Especially when our own economic freedoms are
so deeply curtailed?

S.2009, which provides funding for AIDS in Africa, is still sitting on
the calendar awaiting the action of the Senate. We implore you to move
it forward ASAP. And as you consider S.2009 in the coming days and
weeks, you should know that we find the House version, H.R. 1298 to
relatively decent legislation, due to its lack of encumbrances. 
However, you should also know that the figure requested in the White
House budget of $200 million that was passed by the House is a "drop in
the bucket." We must do better than this.

We've already spent more than that prosecuting a pre-emptive war for
questionable reasons, and we have billions more to go in Iraq, and yet
it seems to me that the AIDS crisis - especially the crisis in the less
developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa - is at least as deserving of my
tax money. If we spent even a quarter of what we spend on the
Department of Defense on fighting poverty, famine, and disease around
the world, in time peoples of the world would no longer NEED to BELIEVE
in terrorism and genocide because people would no longer be OPPRESSED. 
(And the Department of Defense certainly doesn't need the money, as it
has a budget bigger than all of the the defense budgets of the rest of
the world combined. It would still be the biggest defense budget in the
world, even if we did cut it by a quarter!) The U.S.A. would be seen by
the world in a much kinder light, as well, leading us back to the days
when we led the world in using foreign aid generously, wisely, and well,
such as when we enacted the Marshall Plan.

This is why foreign aid is imperative. Not because we are a kind and
good nation offering charity, but because it serves the interests of our
national security in the LONG term. Unfortunately all too many
politicians are uninterested in anything more long term than the next
election. Which leaves our children fighting wars such as our current
"war on terrorism." Is that the legacy you wish to leave?

So I strongly encourage you to up the ante, and then work it out in
conference. Furthermore, please do not tack on amendments that limit
the use of this money with regard to birth control or other moral

Asking for accountability is appropriate. In fact, encourage those who
would receive the funding to establish Cooperative Agreements, where the
use of the money can be tracked more closely than it can with Grants. 
But with regard to moral issues, our culture is different from the
cultures of the developing nations being scoured by AIDS, and it is
atrociously inappropriate for our country to try to attach "conditions"
on which the money may be granted that include moral imperatives based
on our own culture. It is simply not our place to interfere in the
moral and cultural beliefs of other nations.

The entertainment franchise *Star Trek* has a rule about
non-interference in cultural matters called "the Prime Directive." The
sooner the United States develops its own Prime Directive, the better
the world will be.

And the sooner we start spending less money on guns and more money on
the fundamental needs of people (housing, food, water, health care and
education), the better the world will be.

I urge you to consider these issues as you consider the AIDs legislation
before you. This letter is part of a letter-writing campaign organized
by fans of the band U2 who agree with the humanitarian words and deeds
of the band, especially with regard to Bono's quest to improve
conditions in Africa.

. .