I’m a huge fan of Jon Stewart and his counterpart Stephen Colbert, and I think what they do is tremendously important. In response to Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honour, Stewart and Colbert hosted their own Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) on the mall in Washington on 30 October, and drew a crowd of around two hundred thousand people. Looking at the pictures and quotes (here), I am touched and inspired by this mass demonstration of friendliness and whimsy. The mock protest was punctuated with costumes and signs that ranged from the political:
Your friendly neighbourhood Muslim
Hands off our death panels!
How many people have checked 'Atlas Shrugged' out of the public library without realizing the irony?
to the nerdy:
Plurals don’t need apostrophes
What do we want? Moderation!
When do we want it? In a reasonable time frame!
to the satirical:
I’m mildly irritated and I’m going to keep taking it.
Don’t believe everything you think
God hates Fox!
God hates figs! (Mark 11:12-14)
to the absurd:
Bears are people too
This sign intentionally left blank
What’s your zombie plan?
(My favourite) End Road Work
In response to fear and anger, this rally smacked of gentle mockery and intellectual generosity. One might expect only the hot-headed and single-minded to rally in these numbers; it was refreshing to find the rational, the nerdy, the ironically self-aware, the comically bemused gathered to a crescendo that was really a collective humourous shrug. Only Jon Stewart could have pulled that off. But he was pulling at (a different) ‘real America’, and up it came in reassuring plenitude.