I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity this Saturday. Glenn Beck made it out to be a failure unless it was larger than whatever made up number he was using for his for his rally that day. Believe it or not, I agree with him this time. Congress and cable news won’t ever stop. They think they’re sane after all. Colbert, who was dragged off the stage by Peter Pan, had a bit more luck. His message to Keep Fear Alive (mock fear mongers) is something we all enjoy doing and always will.
One of the first groups I saw when I entered was a well known liberal internet campaign. “Vote Republicorp!” shouted a young man dressed in a suit and tie wearing sunglasses “we already bought this election fair and square!” The people holding up the giant sign were there to make a point by mocking the Republican’s business-friendly policies. With signs like “Creating Jobs… (In China)” and “Keeping Democracy Safe with 60,000 Attack Ads” they were getting a lot of attention. At least they knew they were on the side of Colbert, on the side of extremism.
Most ideological and partisan groups weren’t so self-aware. A wheelchair bound man who preferred to remain anonymous told me he was there to deliver a message of sanity. “9-11 was an inside job. And it’s insane that Bush and everyone else got away with blaming it on the Muslims”
He’s right. It is pretty crazy that everyone’s blaming Muslims. As for Al-Qaeda, I’m pretty sure they deserve whatever they get.
Another man, who was there to advocate for the deporting of all illegal immigrants, also told me about the importance of sanity. “It’s insane that we ain’t trying to do more to stop them… First it was the Germans, then it was the Irish, then it was the Italians, and now they all think they’re better than us blacks. They got here, called us n*****, and kicked us in the balls!”
“Sir is there any evidence of ball kicking?” I asked to no avail.
A few people gathered during his rants, but all of them looked at him with one eyebrow raised. Well known fringe groups such as Code Pink, Socialists, and (non-ironic as far as I can tell) Tea Partiers were all in attendance, all hoping to enlighten their fellow Americans. It would seem that sanity is in the eye of the beholder.
The rally was successful, but only because it created some magical memories. On a national level, the rally is a complete failure. Glenn Beck, who attracted less than half the number of people the comedy duo did, had a lot more long term success with his rally. He energized a movement that can vote for Republicans this November. His adversary wasn’t so lucky. After all the work he put into it, Jon Stewart’s request for sanity may be impossible to fulfill this November. For people to cast a vote for sanity, it has to be on the ballot.
Sorry Jon. At least Eric had a good day.
“I’m a gay man, not a hell beast and allowing me to get married wont eternally damn you, I promise.” is what Stony Brook sophomore Eric Blaney wrote on a piece of oak tag last Friday night. The next day, he carried that sign in front of an estimated 215,000 people in Washington D.C. at the Rally to Restore Sanity.
“I knew that I wanted to make a poster on gay equality—as it’s such a good example of insanity in our current nation,” He told me. The statement on the poster perfectly describes how the use of religion to dehumanize anyone in this country, especially in a legal sense, is ridiculous.
Blaney has voiced his opinion on the topic before this, but on a smaller scale.
In moving up to the national level, he was more successful than he could have imagined. In the five minutes I spent walking with him at the rally; at least 10 people snapped a quick picture of him holding his sign. By the time I talked to him back on the buses, I was his 5th interview that day. One of them was even televised.
The best part of the day for Eric was all of the support that he received. He took home 8 hugs and quite a few words of inspiration. “I’m so sorry that you have to carry that sign” one woman told him. He wasn’t harassed or attacked like he probably would have been at another rally that began with the words ‘to restore’. In fact, a couple of Canadians invited him up to their more accepting country. “Well, I ignored them because…” Eric took a moment to laugh, then finished, “it’s Canada”