News / USA

    Tens of Thousands Rally for Laughs, Activism in Washington

    Comedians Jon Stewart, right, and Stephen Colbert, left, perform during their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010.
    Comedians Jon Stewart, right, and Stephen Colbert, left, perform during their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010.

    Three days before the midterm elections, a crowd of mostly young Americans swarmed onto the National Mall for a rally hosted by two comedians. The gathering was jokingly called "The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" - and it drew people who said they are disillusioned by the tone of America's political debate.

    The National Anthem and the backdrop of the Capitol building gave the rally a patriotic flavor with the trappings of a rock concert.

    Jon Stewart is the host of the Daily Show, a satirical news report on American cable television. The show is so influential that the President Barack Obama himself appeared as last Wednesday's guest.

    Watch Nico Colombant's Behind the Scenes Look at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear:

    Stewart's cohost at the rally on the mall was Stephen Colbert, who also has a mock news show. "Prepare yourself to tremble, behold it is me John. it is me in true fear form," he joked.

    Colbert's character was meant to represent fear-mongering. Stewart said there is too much of it these days. "We hear, every damn day, about 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. But 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," he said.

    Washington politics and Cable TV news programs have provided much fodder for these two comedians. And they used it to full effect at the rally by showing a video montage of on-screen name-calling.

    "Crazed Tea Baggers, criminal illegal aliens, far right cranks, far-left loons, right wing nut jobs, practicing homosexuals, the lamestream media, radical imans, unamerican bastards, harvard elites, gun nuts, tree huggers, yahoos and birthers, Fabian socialists, crazies let's say. They are what's wrong with America!"

    The crowd carried signs that targeted some of those commentators. And the conservative Tea Party movement got its share of criticism.

    But most people just wanted to have fun, and even poked fun at themselves. One protester's sign said "Make reasonable protest signs, not war!"

    Rally-goer John Powers said politicians and real news show hosts should be the ones calling for a more reasoned and thoughtful debate. "It's a sad statement of where we are with our political dialogue today that it's got to be comedians. But they're the ones that are able to create the dialogue that's missing in our political debate," he said.

    The crowd filled the Mall, from almost in front of the Capitol to the Washington Monument. This is a place where some of America's most momentous political protests have been held.

    Shawn Fisher said the rally was about giving ordinary people a platform to express themselves. "We really are reasonable people. Reasonable people have a voice, and are ready to be heard again, for both sides. "

    Pat De Concini stood in the crowd holding his young daughter on his shoulders. "We are here to take our kids, and show them that there's other voices in America that are more interested in speaking about politics in a more civilized manner," he said.

    More civility in politics was something President Obama said he hoped for when he was elected two years ago.

    This rally underscores the failure of that hope, just a few days before his Democratic Party is expected to sustain losses in midterm elections.


    Jerome Socolovsky

    Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.