Fareed Zakaria and U2 for President

Ted Cruz notwithstanding, it is too bad that those who were born outside of the United States can't run for president.

After listening this morning, December 6, as CNN's Fareed Zakaria interviewed Bono and The Edge of U2, I would be delighted if any one of those three men presided over our country.

Perhaps, at minimum, they can someday advise Hillary Clinton. Eight years ago, Zakaria, who hosts "GPS" on CNN, was in fact touted as a possible secretary of State in a Clinton administration.

I can recall meeting Zakaria in late 1983 or early 1984, when I was a freshman in college, and he was running for president of the Yale Political Union.

Believe it or not, Zakaria, a foreign policy expert and a progressive, was chairman of the Party of the Right, not the Liberal Party, at the time that he ran for president of the Yale Political Union.

Zakaria sought the endorsement of my party, the Independent Party. He impressed me then, as he always has, as a very confident, thoughtful and brilliant man. He told our caucus that he could get Bill Buckley and then-Senator Gary Hart, among others, to come to campus.

We endorsed Zakaria, who won the presidency of the political union, and, as promised, Buckley and Hart, who was then running for president of the U.S., did indeed come to campus to speak at the Yale Law School auditorium.

Zakaria may have been a member of the Party of the Right, who, after his presidency of the political union, became the floor leader of the right. But as befitted a man who was open to other points of view, he roomed with the floor leader of the left.

I always sensed that Zakaria was less right-wing than moderate, someone who would listen to all sides.

It was around this time, some thirty years ago, that U2 started to become a force in rock music. From the beginning, the Irish band sang songs of "defiant joy," as Bono, its front man, said today on Zakaria's show. Songs like "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "New Year's Day," and "With or Without You," were not just political; they were exuberant odes to idealism, to the fighting spirit of a people who had suffered at the hands of sectarian conflict in Ireland.

Back then, as now, the rock band blessed us with tunes that conveyed optimism, a command of the English language, and a subversive and romantic beauty.

U2 was scheduled, pronounced with an "sh" sound by Bono and The Edge on Zakaria's show, to play in Paris on November 14, a concert that was postponed because of the November 13 terrorist attacks by ISIS.

As The Edge, U2's lead guitarist, said today, the target of the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris was "culture." Paris, he said, represents the "best of humanity...music, restaurants, French food." Moreover, he pointed out that Paris was where the modern concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity were proposed during the Enlightenment, concepts adopted on this side of the Atlantic.

Speaking of ISIS and its jihadist followers, Bono added, "they don't even like women. Music, women, what else is there?"

U2, which at least partly takes its name from the Cold War-era reconnaissance planes flown over the then-Soviet Union, will be playing tonight and tomorrow night in Paris. The band is a "life cult," as Bono said, not "a death cult," like ISIS.

U2 will be singing their songs of "defiant joy" and spreading their gospel, epitomized by songs like "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," whose theme is that "violence can never create a meaningful solution," as The Edge said today on Zakaria's show.

ISIS is indeed a death cult, and it intends to wipe out all those it deems to be apostates, those of us who live the modern life, including Muslims.

It is worth remembering that just a month or so ago ISIS bombed refugee camps in Lebanon, killing Palestinians and other Muslims. And around that time, an ISIS affiliate in the Sinai shot down a plane carrying Russian tourists, in an ironic echo of a Cold War incident involving Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down in a U2 plane by the Soviets.

More recently, there was of course this week's massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 Americans were killed by a couple who were reportedly inspired by ISIS.

Zakaria, who was born in India and who is a Muslim, opened his show today by pointing out with his customary eloquence and moderation that Muslims are subjected to a "double standard" in the U.S. but that he understands why Muslims in this country are being asked to speak out against ISIS and other jihadists.

He acknowledged the troubling fact that these terrorists often cite scripture to justify their murderous actions.

But he also stated quite correctly that the vast majority of Muslims in this country are law-abiding and that ideas, such as Donald Trump's proposed policy of registering all Muslims, reek not only of ignorance and intolerance; they also remind us of the worst traditions in U.S. politics such as the Japanese internment camps during World War II, to say nothing of the witch-hunt and blacklist during the 1950s, which overwhelmingly targeted Jews.

I was honored that Bono, a wordsmith, who spoke sublimely of how a "child sings before he speaks," told Zakaria that ISIS and other terrorists had "perverted" their religion. That was the very verb I used last month to conclude my piece, titled "ISIS Does Not Have God on Its Side." As I wrote on November 19, ISIS has "perverted" not only its religion but also "the traditions of the Arabic people, a once-glorious set of civilizations that preceded Islam."

All of us, including members of ISIS, should try to remember that Islam derives from the Arabic word, Salaam, or Shalom in Hebrew, which means peace.

I feel for Zakaria and for other Muslims in this country and around the world. They are facing a dire threat within their religion. In some sense, Islam never experienced the Enlightenment, which was borne on another continent.

During this time of fear, we must all keep in mind the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity, as it comes to refugees and other issues, but we have every right to criticize those aspects of Islam that have been perverted by ISIS.

I hope that when President Obama gives his Oval Office address later today, he says more than that ISIS "is on the wrong side of history," one of his famous phrases.

He should admit that right now we have a significant problem with terrorism, instead of playing down the real fears of Americans. Until now, the president has seemed almost in denial that this could happen under his watch.

But it has happened, and it is not any one person's fault.

It is because, as Bono said, ISIS embraces death, while we embrace life.

Perhaps, Obama could enlist thought leaders like Zakaria, who can continue speaking out on behalf of Enlightenment values, so Islam can more fully embrace the modern world.

And perhaps, somewhere in his law professor's brain, Obama can conjure some of the "defiant joy" of U2 and speak from the gut.

The world needs the fighting spirit and romantic idealism of the Irish band.