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.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora