Bono calls for comedy to counter extremism

WASHINGTON • U2 frontman Bono has offered a novel suggestion to counter violent extremism.

Use comedy and comics such as Amy Schumer, he told Congress on Tuesday, as he turned up to ask United States lawmakers to act against the global refugee crisis and extremism.

"Don't laugh," he said, "I think comedy should be deployed... 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, thank you."

Bono, 55, who co-founded the international advocacy group ONE, has lobbied in world capitals for causes including debt relief, alleviating poverty and fighting Aids.

Addressing a Senate subcommittee that oversees funding for campaigns against violent extremism, he said he met refugees recently in Africa and the Middle East.

"The fact is that aid can no longer be seen as charity, as a nice thing to do when we can afford it," he said.

"If there's one thing I would like you to take away from this testimony, it is that aid in 2016 is not charity. It is national security," he told lawmakers.

He also appealed for a "Marshall Plan" to provide aid to the Middle East, much like the massive relief the US provided to rebuild Europe and counter extremism after World War II.

"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," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Bono calls for comedy to counter extremism'. Subscribe