A vast herd of sheep descended upon The Mall in Washington, D.C. yesterday, and it wasn’t pretty or witty or fun. The air of smugness was so pervasive, it was hard to watch the footage and breathe a breath of fresh air. Instead, the mostly white crowd emitted a stink of condescension that seeped through the camera and onto our pixellated screens. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a circus with nothing but sad clowns clinging bitterly to their irony, their self-satisfaction and the ethereal reek of desparation. In stark comparison to Beck’s rally, this gathering told a completely different story.
Beck’s rally was conceived from sincerity. Beck wanted a day of restoring honor to the nation and to its ideals. He sought to engage the electorate into thoughtful introspection and meaningful action. The half a million who showed, respectfully listened with excited anticipation for talk of making ourselves a better people. To insist on a shared government that listened and acted responsibly. This could only happen, Beck opined, when people listened and acted responsibly themselves. He asked the viewer and participant to act according to their better angels and not in fear and loathing. Beck’s rally was a kind of spiritual event that tried to transcend the physical and reach into hearts and minds.
Stewart and Colbert’s rally was born of contempt for Beck’s rally. It was the stunted, warped twin that wanted attention for attention’s sake. It was a kind of ‘me too’ rally that was planned and intended to combat ideas like honor and integrity with scorn and ridicule. Stewart sought to make a stand for “where sheep may safely graze,” and found himself confronted with a herd of malcontents and weirdos. His crowd called for tolerance, but only for themselves. His crowd called for diversity, but only of melatonin and eye pigment. His crowd believed filling The Mall with derision and haughty self-adulation would make a difference. While Beck’s crowd brimmed with hope, Stewart’s crowd was filled with contempt for their fellow man.
Beck’s crowd made it’s way to The Mall alone and in self-starting groups. Beck provided the space, the people provided for themselves. Beck’s crowd took the message of doing for oneself and helping others to heart. They wanted something more for their children. They wanted a country that could do more for itself and make less of a burden on others. Beck’s crowd believed that through self-sacrifice and voluntary cooperation, the work becomes an easy load to bear. This crowd cleaned up after itself without having to be told to simply because it was the right thing to do.
Stewart’s crowd had to be directed. The Ruling Class had to provide buses and provisions. The collectivist Left had to support and urge this crowd to show up. They needed attention and care. They needed bells and whistles and bright, shiny objects to distract and enthrall. They needed costumes and themes, antics and hijinks. Stewart’s crowd needed a buffoon to lead them to their promised land. They had to differentiate themselves through bizarre employments like ironic signs and silly pronouncements. This was the crowd of singular expression of the collective bowing to their betters. Nothing was asked of these participants but attention. Nothing was received from them but jocularity.
While Beck’s mostly white crowd respected the diversity within each other, Stewart’s mostly white crowd mocked differences in critical thinking. While Beck’s crowd sought honor and dignity, Stewart’s crowd clamored for absurdity and irony. While Beck’s crowd cried for hope, Stewart’s crowd demanded satisfaction.
Really, now which crowd would you rather be in?