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.

Multimedia

Audio

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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid