Politics & Policy

Russell Brand Makes a Dummkopf of Himself

Russell unleashed (Mary Turner/Getty Images)
Flailing comedian's Nazi attack on Bill O'Reilly sinks like the Bismarck.

Skeptics of amnesty for illegal aliens are used to being subjected to lazy insults: that we are cruel, lacking compassion, prejudiced, foolish, and even racist. But is the crisis over unaccompanied child immigrants breeding . . . Nazis?

That’s a new one, courtesy of British comedian-turned-political-provocateur Russell Brand. “As Mediaite’s Matt Wilstein reports:

Last month, comedian Russell Brand called Fox News a “fanatical religious terrorist organization” that’s “more dangerous than ISIS.” In the weeks since, he has used his online video series “The Trews” to systematically break down everything he thinks is wrong with America’s #1 cable news network, and particularly its biggest star Bill O’Reilly. And in a new video posted Monday, he compares O’Reilly and his fellow hosts to Nazis.

In the video, Brand attempts to mock a Bill O’Reilly Talking Points Memo. The Fox News host proposed handling the immigration crisis through tighter border security and documentation. Rather than merely offer a rebuttal on the merits, Brand takes an appalling turn, declaring, “This is the day when Bill starts using, literally, Nazi policies on Fox News. That’s Kristallnacht stuff.” Imitating O’Reilly, Brand adds, “All we have to do is mark the shops of Mexicans with the Star of David and smash the windows.”

O’Reilly proposes that illegal aliens register their name and contact information, and that they face felony charges and potential prison time for failing to do so. Brand likens this to advocating “concentration camps.” He adds that that one could suggest Nazi policies to O’Reilly, simply without using the word “Nazi,” and that O’Reilly would find such policies “brilliant.”

Brand is probably best known in the United States for his 14-month marriage to pop superstar Katy Perry. Though his supporting roles in financially successful films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall led some show-business optimists to hope Brand might sweep Americans off their collective feet, to date he has proven to be one of those British exports, like Piers Morgan and taxation without representation, that struggle to find a stateside market. Brand’s 2011 remake of the Dudley Moore comedy Arthur barely made back its budget, and the production value evident in Brand’s podcast is poor.

After unfunny mockery that goes on far too long (Brand and brevity do not go hand in hand), the scattershot funmaker concludes that O’Reilly’s view is “inching as close to fascism as is possible without having the swastika tattooed on your head.” Brand then signs off with the Nazi salute, exclaiming: “Sieg Heil, Bill! Sieg Heil!”

The specific content of Brand’s argument is not worth responding to. The great attorney and online freedom advocate Mike Godwin diagnosed the argumentum ad Hitlerum back in 1990, and since then society has generally held that when you call your interlocutor a Nazi you lose the debating point.

This is also not the first time in the past year Brand has gone to the Nazis in hopes of big laffs. In September the press-dubbed “Mad Englishman” was hammered for joking about Hugo Boss’s history of designing uniforms for the Third Reich. Interestingly, mainstream media professionals, including the editor of GQ magazine, ostracized Brand over that comment even though — unlike his attack on Bill O’Reilly — it was provably true and structurally recognizable as a joke.

Brand in his podcast, however, seems to be portraying an intellectual rather than a comedian. He name-drops NATO and the definition of Manifest Destiny (good for you, Russell!), but no one would confuse Brand for a deep thinker. And needless to say, the defenders of Hugo Boss’s reputation have not shown a similar concern for Bill O’Reilly’s.

Would Brand even come out ahead of Bill O’Reilly in a Who Wants to Be a Nazi game show?

Consider: It is Brand who is eager to scoff at and berate democratic will. (The American public is largely skeptical of amnesty.) It is Brand who spits on the graves of Holocaust victims by comparing the Shoah to a government function — securing a national border — that may be controversial but is both constitutional and universally recognized as legitimate. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that there’s a clear distinction between requiring an illegal immigrant to register his presence in the country (something required of every American at birth, any person seeking a driver’s license or Social Security number, and even a tourist visiting the country) and requiring Jewish citizens to be marked with a star for public shaming, physical abuse, and eventual murder. Brand was also one of the signers of a January 2009 letter to The Independent condemning Israel’s “injustice, war, and military occupation” in Gaza. And since the National Socialists were after all socialists, note that last year Brand called for a socialist revolution — a revolution that, as Breitbart’s Christian Toto points out, Brand can watch from the comfort of his million-dollar home.

For the record, none of this means Russell Brand is a Nazi — only that you could make that case using arguments that are less stupid than Brand’s.

Now, maybe we can chalk up Brand’s ridiculous O’Reilly-sounds-like-a-Nazi attack to World Cup fever. After all, every bar during Sunday’s final surely had one or two fools making tired Blitzkrieg jokes. Let’s give Russell a break. If we must show compassion toward illegal immigrants, we must surely show compassion toward those who lack the mental ability to grasp world affairs. The left relies on folks such as Russell Brand, who mock, condemn, and criticize while lacking any common sense.

Forget all this talk of Nazis. What’s the German phrase for “useful idiot”?

— A. J. Delgado is a conservative writer and lawyer. She writes about politics and culture.

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