Bono on the Best Way to Counter ISIL: 'I Think Comedy Should Be Deployed'

By Susan Jones | April 13, 2016 | 8:31am EDT
Irish rock star and activist Bono testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, before the Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee hearing on the causes and consequences of violent extremists. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

( - Bono, the Irish rock star, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the best way to counter violent extremism is to make fun of it.

"So I'm suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sasha Baron Cohen," he told a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

Bono admitted that his suggestion might sound "a little bizarre."

"We forget how elusive maleness is in a world where materialism decides your machismo," Bono said. "If you have no access to material things, you exaggerate your -- your maleness. I think we have to think about young men -- and think about that.

"And it's funny -- don't laugh, but I think comedy should be deployed. Because if you look at national socialism -- and Daesh and ISIL, this is the same thing, we've seen this before. We've seen this game before -- very vain, they've got all the signs up there -- really, it's -- it's  show business.

"And the first people that...Adolf Hitler threw out of Germany were the Dadists and Surrealists. It's like, you speak violence, you speak their language. But you laugh at them when they're goosestpping down the street, and it takes away their power.

"So I'm suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen."

"I'm actually serious," he added.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said it's not the first time she's heard experts make such a suggestion.

Bono made his recommendation after Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken explained how the U.S. government has changed the way it is trying to counter the Islamic State narrative:

"What we're doing less of now is direct messaging in the voice of the United States, because we found that wasn't so effective," Blinken said. "We were not the best messenger in this space. What we are doing instead is trying to identify, elevate and build the capacity of local, credible voices.

"Second, instead of playing this whack-a-mole game, where they would put something up on social media (and) we'd immediately try to counter it, we've worked on doing it much more thematically.

"And so for example, very successfully, we've found the testimonies of defectors from ISIL or from Daesh and we put those together in a way that's incredibly effective, because what it says to people is, what you think you're signing up for is not the reality, and they have much more credibility than we do saying that ourselves."

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