The comedian Jon Stewart headed a large rally in the U.S. capital for those who prefer calmness to political shouting. “In bad times, you have to be strong and not succumb to racism and injustice,”* a young couple in attendance proclaimed.
What a great day to restore sanity! It was cold but sunny, and seemed to stay that way throughout the day. Tens of thousands of people, mostly young people, gathered Saturday at the National Mall in Washington in response to the rally launched by political comedian Jon Stewart under the name “Rally to Restore Sanity.” It was a rally, three days before the crucial legislative elections, for those “who feel that the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones that get heard” (a veiled allusion to the large rallies promoted by the ultraconservative movement of the tea party). “We’re tired of so much yelling,”* assured one of the organizers. “Shouting is annoying, counterproductive and terrible for your throat,” he said in a fun tone. “I calculate that around 10 million people will attend the rally today.”*
This is how Stewart appeared before his excited followers. "It's a perfect demographic sampling of the American people," continued the comedian. "As you know, if you have too many white people at a rally, your cause is racist. If you have too many people of color, then you must be asking for something — special rights, like eating at restaurants or piggy back rides" (in reference to a comment made by a senatorial candidate from Kentucky who questioned the civil rights law that ended racial segregation in the United States in 1964).
Stewart asked the participants to identify themselves by a number, starting with the number one, and they defined themselves as follows: "half-Mexican, half-white," ''American woman, single" and "Asian-American from Taiwan." This was a party. This was when the other event co-host arrived — Stephen Colbert, also a comedian and Stewart’s channel mate on Comedy Central, paying homage to the Chilean miners. “Chile, Chile, Chile…” Colbert came out of a capsule that looked like the one that freed the miners.
Because of Stewart’s energetic appeal, even dogs have returned to reason! The phrase “I promise not to eat my owner’s shoes anymore” was written on a scarf that an owner tied around his labrador’s neck. Only two days before the midterm elections Tuesday that could completely change the Democratic Congress, the attendants, as much as Stewart said that it wasn’t a political event, mostly showed themselves to be inclined towards progress and renounced the ultraconservative assault that appears to be ambushing the capital.
Two young people from Atlanta, Ga. were taking pictures with the Washington Monument behind them and swore that they would “never ever” let fear form a part of their lives. “In bad times, you have to be strong and not succumb to racism and injustice.”* Shouts of “Stewart for president!” mixed into the conversation of a more spirited youth.
The weekend in the capital of the United States promises to be intense. This Sunday is Halloween so many of the attendants are debuting their costumes at the march. It is also the day of the Marine marathon. “We’ll see how we leave things,”* a girl comments while she picks up the leftovers of the sandwich she just ate.
This much is true, whoever doesn’t want to restore their sanity today has the opportunity to succumb to fear. Stephen Colbert’s rally was combined with Stewart’s. “Well, mostly I’m afraid that no one showed up to our rally…”
*Editor’s note: These quotes, which translated accurately, could not be verified.