Candidates for anti-Loons of the Year, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their combined Rallies to Restore Sanity and March to Keep Fear Alive on the Washington Mall, Saturday October, 30th. The event was held to promote a dialogue of reasonableness and restore rationality to the divided discourse that exists in America. Over 250,000 people showed up, more than Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor which garnered around 90,000.
Among the many messages, one was explicitly addressing the irrational fears Americans have of Muslims.
Jon Stewart on his intentions for the rally,
JON STEWART: I’m really happy you guys are here, even if none of us are really quite sure why. So, what exactly was this? I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.
But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s twenty-four-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the résumé. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate—just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
Stewart and Colbert also awarded Jacob Isom a medal for his contribution to restoring sanity,
JON STEWART: Our next honoree reacted quickly when he found himself face-to-face with a flammable situation.
JACOB ISOM: Snuck up behind him and took his Quran. He said something about burning the Quran. I was like, “Dude, you have no Quran,” and ran off.
JON STEWART: I like that. Can we hear that again, maybe with a dance remix?
JACOB ISOM: [remixed] You have no Quran. Snuck up behind him and took his Quran. Said something about burning the Quran. I was like, “Dude, you have no Quran. Dude, you have no Quran.”
JON STEWART: Thank you, YouTube. Now, obviously I don’t normally condone ripping things out of people’s hands, but I think in this situation it was the most reasonable thing to do. Ladies and gentleman, our final awardee, Jacob Isom. Sir? Come on up, brother. Oh, there you go.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Boo-ya! Dude, you have no medal! How’s that feel?
Finally, the pair of comedians had an exchange with Karim Abdul Jabbar to highlight the fact that Americans shouldn’t fear Islam and Muslims and those who are doing criminal actions are a very tiny minority:
STEPHEN COLBERT: What about Muslims?
JON STEWART: What? What about them?
STEPHEN COLBERT: They attacked us.
JON STEWART: Stephen, “they” did not. Some people who happen to be of Muslim faith attacked us. But there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Most of them—
STEPHEN COLBERT: Did not, is what you’re saying?
JON STEWART: That is correct.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Oh, Jon, oh, so you’re saying—you’re saying that there is no reason at all to be afraid of Osama bin Laden?
JON STEWART: No, Osama bin Laden is a specific person. He’s bad.
STEPHEN COLBERT: He is a specific bad Muslim person.
JON STEWART: Yeah, but that’s not—there are plenty of Muslim people that are not bad and that you would like, and that’s fine.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Oh, really? Who? Who would I like?
JON STEWART: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
JON STEWART: Yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Kareem!
JON STEWART: That is someone that you would—
STEPHEN COLBERT: Watch your head. Kareem, my man! Hey, Kareem!
JON STEWART: You know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is Muslim.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Well, that’s not fair, Jon. That’s not a fair example. Kareem is cool. We’re friends.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, we’re acquaintances. You know, a real friend understands that no matter what religious position someone plays, we’re all on the same team.
It was an amazing rally, and despite all the attempts to undercut it and underplay its significance by both the media and certain politicians it was a tremendous success! The message at the end of the day was that we can have disagreements in a reasonable manner and that what binds us as humans is stronger than what divides us. As cliche as it sounds, at the end of the day it was a call for peace and love.
I leave you with this duet between Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and Ozzy Osbourne doing their respective Peace Train and Crazy Train: