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Arts & EventsRallying the American Public with a Comedic Twist

Rallying the American Public with a Comedic Twist

Flanked by the Capitol Building and Washington Monument, witches and Where’s Waldo impersonators carried signs promoting coffee over tea among a massive crowd on a sunny Saturday. With estimates pegged at 250,000 people, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was deemed a success, demonstrating a clear enthusiasm for its cause. The message was clear: the American public is discontented with its current discordant political sphere and extremist rhetoric from the media. Despite political allegiance, many were there to show they were not happy with the disinformation fed through cable, newspapers and other mouths. Standing by the satellite trucks amid such a diverse mass of people, from teens to disgruntled seniors, was inspiring and proved sane Americans did exist, showing their disgust for Fox News Channel host Glen Beck, who held his rally, Restoring Honour in August.

Getting to the rally was an event in itself. We parked at the Branch Ave. Metro Station, approximately 25 minutes from downtown Washington. People overflowed everywhere and all the escalators were frozen and littered with garbage. Vendors sold laminated rally logos of the two comedians on lanyards for $5, as well as t-shirts, buttons and hats. Overall the mood was happy and exciting. People were polite and considerate of those holding hands while pushing through crowds. Musicians Sheryl Crow, The Roots, Ozzy Osbourne and Yusuf Islan (formerly Cat Stevens) extended their support of the event and after Stewart’s closing speech, Tony Bennett sang ‘America the Beautiful.’ Stewart’s tone turned serious when he began explaining that Americans were living in “hard times, not end times.” A thunderous applause flowed through the crowd as he continued to say that if “we amplify everything, we hear nothing… “Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate,” he said.

"This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. The image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. [Americans hear] how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don't is here or on cable TV."

Although there have been many defensive remarks from the press about the rally, I thought they deserved to have their feathers ruffled as those media outlets promoting accurate and balanced political coverage would easily outshine their exaggerating counterparts. It should also be pointed out that the media is society’s reflection of itself and while it’s easy to create a scapegoat out of the messenger, we should look more closely at the message.

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