Sunday, September 19, 2010

Daily Show's Jon Stewart calls on American voters to rally for sanity.

I think this is the perfect riposte to Glenn Beck and his rally for nothingness.

Jon Stewart, the arch-liberal US news satirist, is planning a "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington next month to draw voters to an anti-extremism demonstration sold on witty irony. He's calling it the Million Moderate March.

His tongue may be in his cheek but it doesn't muffle the star TV host's rallying cry to an exasperated mainstream just days before the midterm elections in November.

Sent up as "a few hours of fun" but in reality a serious riposte to the rightwing Tea Party movement now stealing the spotlight, Stewart promised to supply signs declaring "I Disagree With You, But I'm Pretty Sure You're Not Hitler" and other deadpan slogans.

The day after he announced the rally on his political satire programme, The Daily Show, mainstream news channels were calling the Washington DC police to check it wasn't a hoax.

They were told Stewart had, indeed, applied for permits for a public gathering on 30 October.

It will take place on the National Mall below the Lincoln memorial, site of so many historic demonstrations over the decades

I can't even remember which blogger it was who first came up with this idea, but - shortly after Beck held his rally - I do remember reading one person posting that they thought Stephen Colbert should hold a rally to answer Beck's one. I thought it a very funny idea but I had no idea that Colbert and Stewart would get together and actually arrange one.

I hope lots of people attend but worry that irony is not as good a rallying cry as the hatred which fuels the Tea Party protests.

Stewart's event is designed is to counter what he called a minority of 15% or 20% of the country that has dominated the national political discussion with extreme rhetoric.

News of Stewart's rally came at the end of an extraordinary week. It began with a narrowly avoided Qur'an-burning on the anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks and ended with former Alaska governor and rightwing darling Sarah Palin stoking suspicions that she will run for the White House in 2012.

In the middle came the giant Tea Party upset, where inexperienced but blowhard conservatives – opposed by their own official Republican party – won primary elections and will now fight for congressional seats in the midterms.
There is a minority currently dominating the American news cycle and one can only hope that Stewart's predominantly young audience rise to the challenge. Beck has claimed that something miraculous took place simply because people showed up at his rally.

He had nothing of any substance to say to them, indeed, he admitted that even he didn't really know what the rally was for, but he has since claimed that what took place was significant and will go down in history.

No-one sends Beck up better than Jon Stewart, as this video shows.

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I wish his rally well. Irony is the perfect way to puncture Beck's preposterous self importance.

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