U2 guitarist the Edge said bandmate Bono had been right to become a high-profile political activist, even though it sometimes caused problems for the Irish group.

In a recent interview with Mojo, Edge said the two aspects of U2’s reputation had become “so intermingled” that it would be “very hard to imagine one without the other.”

He continued: “There’s obviously been challenging moments, particularly when Bono was making great strides in America and realized his superpower was being able to work both sides of the aisle and persuade politicians from different parts of the spectrum to work together.

“But that meant he was having meetings with people like [right-wing US Senator] Jesse Helms, who famously dismantled the National Endowment for the Arts… and made some terrible early comments about the AIDS pandemic. So, that was hard. But we understood the logic. And if you judge activism based on results, rather than it being some kind of attempted virtue signalling, then Bono was absolutely right.”

As a result of Bono’s intervention with Helms, Congress voted in favor of an AIDS support package that changed many lives. “If you can persuade a politician that they’re not going to sacrifice their existing support but they will potentially add, that’s hard to turn down,” Edge said. “And Bono became very good, I think, at advocating on that basis. ‘Look, this will mean political brownie points for you.’ But often that meant him being in the photograph!”

He argued that critics often miss the fact that it took courage for Bono to do what he did. “[T]hey just think he compromised his principles. He didn’t at all. What he did compromise was his PR profile and his standing with the sort of fundamentalists who would never be open to receiving help from people they didn’t agree with. In the end, I think facts bear out his approach.”

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