“The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” was a fake political rally that seemed awfully much like an outdoor music concert with live comedy acts interspersed. It was fun to watch, but there are an undercurrent of politics that was occasionally cringe worthy.
One of the best highlights took place after the first musical set when Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman to do-well-crowd myths. Savage, by the way, provided the best estimate of the crowd size-150,000. Considering how the Mythbusters are sticklers for exact data, we’ll go with that figure.
Anyway, Savage and Hyneman got the crowd to perform, doing the wave, making various sounds, and even jumping up and down in unison while technicians recorded the results. The unspoken myth that was definitely confirmed and not busted was that large groups of people will do whatever someone on a stage tells them to do, no matter how silly. It is fortunate for all concerned that the Mythbusters are responsible people; someone less so might have told the crowd to burn down the Capitol Building.
Other highlights of “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” included Stephan Colbert rising from his “fear bunker” beneath the stage like a Chilean miner from the bowls of the Earth much to the astonishment of Jon Stewart and the crowd. The climax of the event consisted of a debate with Jon Stewart championing “reasonableness” and Stephen Colbert advocating fear. Kareem Abdul Jabbar come out to show why one should not fear all Muslims-an obvious slam against Bill O’Reilly. R2D2 came out to show why one should not fear all robots, even if one of them is the slinky, beauteous Six from Battlestar Galactica.
Sanity awards were given out to people like the lady who confronted President Obama about his incompetent Presidency, but in a respectful manner. Fear awards were given out to recipients such as the news organizations that forbade their employees to attend. One of the organizations was NPR. Fox News, by the way, was not on the list.
There were some awkward moments for an event that was suppose to celebrate sanity and reasonableness. The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens appeared to sing “Peace Train” that eventually had him sharing the same stage as Ozzie Osbourne and the OJs, something that one would have never thought would have occurred on this earth.
Cat Stevens is a fine musician and was very big in the 1970s and early 1980s. But his new persona, Yusef Islam, is not so praiseworthy. Yusef Islam, as the artist is now known, publically agreed with the fatwa that called for the death of Salman Rushdie. Leaving aside the fact that Rushdie is a terrible writer, how sane and reasonable is that? Yusef Islam also has had ties to Hamas and for a long time had stopped performing in public because he maintained that Islam forbade secular music. Again, reasonable? Sane?
Oh, yes, Ozzie once bit the head off of a bat. Not exactly the act of a sane person.
Then there was the undercurrent of politics. The Democratic Party had set up a tent to sign up as many stone/slackers as they could manage from the mainly young, mostly white crowd. Then there were the signs.
Let’s leave aside the one that read “Palpatine/Harkonnen 2012”, which was kind of cute. There was one that seemed to be replicated a lot that depicted certain Republican stalwarts including Sarah Palin with Hitler moustaches. Sane? Reasonable? I think not.
The best part of “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” was the fact that it kept a 150,000 liberals on the Washington Mall while their parents and older siblings in the Tea Party stayed home to get out the vote and do last minute electioneering. The kids had their party on Saturday. The rest of us will have ours Tuesday night and the following Wednesday.
Sources: In election’s shadow, rally draws laughs, activism, Hope Yen and Calvin Woodward, AP, October 30th, 2010
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: Are They Pro-Islamofascist or Just Stupid?, Roger L. Simon, Pajamas Media, October 30th, 2010