“I have a dream” vs. “I have a joke”: The day after Rally for Sanity


Yesterday was awesome. We saw the Artist Formerly Known as Cat Stevens play live at the Rally for Sanity! (I’ve missed him.) And I remembered that Kareem Abdul-Jabar is a smart, funny Muslim! Tony Bennett sang! But now I’ve done the walk of shame home from my careless dalliance with those humorous Comedy Central personalities and my mind has cleared.

I’m worried. Because while liberals were laughing and making nice sanity, the insane Tea Party and friends have been making more insaneness like taking “challenger trainings” to literally keep young people and minorities from voting. I can hear you saying, “No! Don’t harsh my mellow, man!”

Hey DUDE, we had a great time. But in politics and in life, crazies have advantage. You can’t turn your back on them to celebrate your saneness. Especially when they have a crazy big bankroll.

I’m not ALL bristly, though. I am thankful this rally brought out 215,000 people to Glenn Beck’s 87,000 which helps me to cancel it out. Do I think that the library mall of Washington DC is the best place for ANY comedians or manipulative pundits to gather masses? Nope. This is the place where Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream.” I now will accept Jon Stewart coming there to say, “I have a joke” because Beck already pissed on it with his religious pandering in August. So thanks, Jon, for the revolution in moderateness. The civil descended upon Washington DC to have a good laugh, shake their finger at the craven media, and pick up litter.

I feel embarrassed. I hoped the rally was going to be a little bit more… strident. But if I’d done a little more homework, I’d have known Jon has always maintained that he is not a leader, he is a joke teller. He stated at the National Press Club following the rally that “We’re not running for anything. We don’t have a constituency. We do television shows for people who like them. And we just hope that people continue to like them so that Comedy Central can continue to sell beer to young people….We wanted to do a really good show for the people…”. And when asked if he and Colbert want people to vote, he said, “I think people should do what moves them. That’s their call to make, not mine.”

Stewart has only promised to remain a jester, helping people to cope with the changing times. Is it really his fault they won’t change the times themselves?

Writer Mark Ames says that the people who gathered at the rally are too afraid of looking uncool: “Let’s gather together in an ironic self-aware way and celebrate how we’re really not rallying or laying anything on the line – not even now, not even when the whole fucking country is collapsing.”

That self-aware irony is being memed into smugness by the Americans for Prosperity here. The freedictionary.com site say “smug” means “Exhibiting or feeling great or offensive satisfaction with oneself or with one’s situation; self-righteously complacent“ Oh my Lord. Now I am really embarrassed. I might be in some agreement with AFP.

Alex Pareene at Salon says their call for civility is reminiscent of the original Obama call for non-partisan government. Yawn. This is a non-plus. I do hope Pareene is onto something when he says the crowd got “inspired about our nation” and “excited about sincerity” (which means they’ll vote?)

Maybe I’m just too narrow and serious to get what might be a new way of agitating – without agitating. I’ve gone to rallies from DC to Northern Wisconsin. All with homemade signs that were both spelled correctly and earnestly clear in message. At no time did it occur to me to look cool or feign niceness. I wanted to be a bad-ass protestor! My messages weren’t clever. “No Crandon Mine” or “NO WAR.” Just as direct as a hard rain. We yelled. We marched. We defeated that Crandon mine. But not that war or any war since.

For a while I entertained the idea that at least this Rally for Sanity made the U.S. Look better to the rest of the world. I read this article in Foreign Policy which shows the world’s fearful interpretations of the rise of the Tea Party in America. And then I realized in that context, 215,000 people in the Party of Nice who descend upon DC for laughs is equally frightening for its blissful ignorance of reality. We are still embroiled in two wars, a deep recession, and hey, we’re still fixing the world’s greatest environmental disaster in the Gulf and insert your own laundry list of problems I don’t feel like writing here.

Worry, disappointment, fear, embarrassment…all caused by those nice, very funny people and their intelligently rendered signs. I do retain some hope because they’re smart. They’ll give me greater hope if they also take action.


TPM Summary w. link to full text of Jon Stewart’s final speech.

Activists loved the rally, and they hated it.

My favorite signs: If you can read this…I am a veteran…I am a muslim., This is a good sign.,

This is what 215,000 people looks like from the Washington Monument.

NPR’s highs and lows from the rally for sanity.

Glen Beck rants stoke real life violence.

Jeff Jarvis took hope in the rally and absorbed it’s media criticism with good nature.

And here’s the BBC’s reaction to the rally for sanity.


  1 comment for ““I have a dream” vs. “I have a joke”: The day after Rally for Sanity

  1. Carlos
    November 1, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Hey, you can write! “crazies have advantage” I don’t know if calling Tea Partiers crazies is fair (if it was Tea Partiers you meant) but I agree with your sentiment. I find so many of their views unreasonable like healthcare and social security. Keep up the good writing!

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