WASHINGTON — U2 lead singer Bono told a congressional subcommittee that “comedy” should be “deployed” to counter Islamic extremism.
Bono, co-founder of the ONE Campaign, also urged Congress to bring in more refugees.
“We’ve seen this thing before – very vain and they’ve got all the signs up. It’s really – it’s show business and really the first people that Adolf Hitler threw out of Germany were Dadaists and surrealists,” Bono said at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on consequences of violent extremism and the role of foreign assistance.
“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,” he added.
In response, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told Bono “that’s not the first time I’ve heard experts on how to counter violent extremism talk about that.”
“Thank you. I’m actually serious,” Bono replied.
“It is one of the things I know we’re looking at,” Shaheen said.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) asked Bono what he thinks is the most effective way to invest taxpayer dollars to ensure “we do not lose a whole generation of Syrian children.”
Bono encouraged the committee to listen to witness Kelly T. Clements, deputy high commissioner at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“I think they are doing a spectacular job. I’m glad to hear you are think about that,” he said. “Syrians I will tell you though are particularly industrious. I would never underestimate them. They are definitely worth the investment.”
Bono mentioned the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who was the son of a Syrian migrant.
“He had that industriousness,” Bono said. “These are the best people in the world. They are extraordinary people and they would be so moved to hear you talk about them today.”
Bono also said German Chancellor Angela Merkel deserves a “peace prize” for deciding to accept a large number of refugees.
“She faces criticism from her own party but the German people have shown the way here. Actually, they have become the very heart of Europe – that’s brilliance and I think she deserves a peace prize or something like that. She’s done extraordinary things,” he said. “I think all countries need to take in more refugees. My Pink friends back here will back me up on that.”
Bono was referencing the Code Pink activists who posed for photos with him in the hearing room.
Tony Blinken, deputy secretary of State, told the subcommittee that technology experts from the Silicon Valley spent a month with his department and made some recommendations about fighting terrorism. Blinken said the department ultimately changed its approach to countering ISIL’s narrative.
“In a nutshell, what we are doing less of now is direct messaging in the voice of the United States because we found that wasn’t so effective. We were not the best messenger in this space,” he said. “What we are doing instead is trying to identify, elevate and build the capacity of local, credible voices.”
Blinken also said ISIL’s online posts are “no longer as prominent on the most visited social media sites” compared to a year ago.
“Now many sites are overwhelmingly populated by anti-Daesh messages, and it is beginning to have an impact—measured not only in tweets and followers, but also the growing networks of researchers, young people, and civic leaders inspired now to take positive action,” he wrote in his full testimony.