U2 frontman Bono has suggested the US should use comedians such as Amy Schumer and Chris Rock to fight extremist groups.
“Don’t laugh,” Bono said as he brought his star power to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and called on members of Congress to take swift action to deal with the global refugee crisis and violent extremism.
In testimony before a subcommittee, he suggested the Senate “send in” comedians to counteract the violent message of militants.
“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,” he said. “So I am suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen, thank you.”
Bono also drew a bleak picture as he described the flood of people fleeing their homes in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The human torrent threatens the very idea of European unity, he said.
Lawmakers need to think of foreign aid as national security instead of charity. “When aid is structured properly, with a focus on fighting poverty and improving governance, it could just be the best bulwark we have against the extremism of our age,” Bono said.
Members of Congress need to confront an “existential threat” to Europe that hasn’t been seen since the 1940s. Countries such as Poland and Hungary are moving to the right politically, a shift he described as “hyper nationalism.”
Britain is even considering leaving the European Union. “This is unthinkable stuff,” he said. “And you should be very nervous in America about it.”
Africa is grappling with what Bono called a phenomenon of three extremes – ideology, poverty and climate. “Those three extremes make one unholy trinity of an enemy and our foreign policy needs to face in that direction,” he said.
Bono said he understood the financial stress the US and other nations are under as they debate how much foreign aid to allot. But he warned the bills will only get bigger without action.
“If you don’t do it now, it’s going to cost a lot more later,” he said. “I do know that.”
In Syria, five years of violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced another 11 million. Nearly 174,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea since the beginning of this year and 723 are missing or dead, many drowning in the cold, rough waters, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Before sitting at the witness table, Bono posed for photos with three members of the anti-war group Code Pink, who wore pink tiaras and held cardboard torches and signs reading “Refugees Welcome”.
Bono took part in a congressional delegation led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the subcommittee chairman, that had just returned from Africa and the Middle East.
The U2 singer co-founded the One Campaign, an advocacy group that works to end poverty and preventable disease.