Bob Geldof isn’t known for holding back his thoughts and he certainly didn’t while speaking at the opening ceremony of the One Young World Summit in Ottawa, Canada.
The activist and musician set his sights on not just Donald Trump, who he labelled a “racist” and a “liar”, but the “commanders of the armies of stupidity” that also included British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Who now believes that trade amongst the nations will lift all out of the great evil that everyone has spoken of – poverty? And especially now that a liar, a fool and a racist vomits his bile onto the disinherited of the United States,” he said.
But that wasn’t all. Not even slightly.
“We’re tired. We’re so tired, aren’t we? Everything seems so complex. Nothing seems to work. And the politicians, leaders and experts are not to be trusted or believed. And so, let us give up on belief. Let us surrender to the post-truth politicians.
“Those reality television actors, the Trumps, the Putins, the Erdogans, the Brexiters,” he continued, in a speech that lamented the human condition and questioned the public’s belief in global institutions such as the United Nations.
“We must not succumb to the fools. We must not be galled by the awful thuggishness of Putin, Erdogan, Xi or Trump, or the many other commanders of the armies of stupidity.”
The singer and activist continued: ”But the future is not binary. It’s not that false choice of utopia or dystopia so beloved of journalists, commentators and writers. There is a constant adjustment of circumstance and morality that an impatient electorate or distracted populous is loath to accept or acknowledge, and thus they leave us to fools like Trump, or Johnson in the UK, or bullies like Putin.”
He was speaking at the seventh annual One Young World Summit, where 1,300 current and future young leaders meet to discuss global issues such as extremism and climate change.
The 64-year-old continued a theme started by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with his speech, when he blamed current world issues on his generation.
“We old men have betrayed two generations – our parents’ and yours. We squandered and lost the generous past they gave us and we passed on at best a fragile future,” he said.
Annan had earlier said “many of these challenges we are facing today lies with the failures of leadership among your elders, myself included”.
The summit takes place throughout the week, and the opening ceremony featured speeches from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as former president Mary Robinson, who chose to speak on climate justice.