On Saturday in Washington Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive. The purpose of the event, which drew more than 200,000 people, was to help Cat Stevens win support for his fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
What, you didn’t know that? You must have missed the rightblogger coverage. You probably also missed that the rally was a huge failure and not funny. Well, that’s what you get for relying on the Lame Stream Media, sheeples.
You probably recall that Cat Stevens some years ago converted to Islam, took the name Yusef Islam, and backed the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence on author Salman Rushdie.
Stevens/Islam now claims he was kidding, so maybe it was his sense of humor that got the planners to invite Stevens to the stage. Or maybe it was the idea of him doing “Peace Train” with Ozzie Osbourne doing “Crazy Train” and the O’Jays doing “Love Train” that they found exciting.
Or maybe Colbert and Stewart just wanted to do their bit for militant Islamic jihad.
“It’s worth remembering the insanity that this man has endorsed,” said the American Spectator. “Remember when Jon Stewart was against those who use threats of violence to suppress freedom of speech?” asked Patterico’s Pontifications. “A Fatwa at the Sanity Rally,” said Solomonia. “Jon Stewart likes to lecture about political extremes,” huffed Say Anything. “Is there anything more extreme than wanting someone to die because of something they wrote?”
“Are [Stewart and Colbert] such shallow middle-aged men that they have the need to tell adults they think it would be cool if America were destroyed, so that they feel as if they have street cred?” cried The Infidel Bloggers Alliance. “They are telling us they are cool with Muslims destroying the First Amendment.”
Nick Cohen claimed to have heard from Rushdie himself regarding the rally: “If [Cat Stevens’] a ‘good Muslim’ like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then I’m the Great Pumpkin.” Well, it sounds like Rushdie, anyway.
“Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert,” asked Roger L. Simon, “Are They Pro-Islamofascist or Just Stupid?… why not invite Khalid Sheik Mohammed to perform? He actually took the head off Daniel Pearl. He didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk.” After many insults, Simon finally decided Stewart and Colbert were stupid, and that the Democratic Party, dragged into it at the last moment for some reason, was both stupid and evil.
“The irony is, that the organizer of this insane wankfest, Jon Stewart, is a Jew,” said Winds of Jihad. “For him to suck up to Islamofascist ex-pop idol Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam… is the ultimate irony. Sanity is hard to come by in a madhouse. Among these loons, drug addled Ozzy Osbourne is probably the sanest of them all.” Oh, well, at least they liked Ozzie.
Those rightbloggers who noticed anything else about the rally hit a few basic themes. For one: That there weren’t many black people there. For the most part, this was a joke, because liberals are always making fun of the whiteness of conservative events, and turnabout is fair play — though some of the brethren seemed not to be kidding.
Instapundit wrote, “AN OVERWHELMINGLY WHITE CROWD at the Stewart/Colbert rally. Well, Stewart and Colbert are Stuff White People Like.” “Just look at the predominantly white crowd at their rally,” said The Scratching Post. “If that doesn’t make them racist, nothing does.” “At right a rare shot of the only African American within 10 miles of the Mall yesterday,” said Phil Butler, who also said the attendees were “stoned.” “WHERE ALL THE BLACK FOLKS AT?” asked Angry White Dude. (If only these guys had been around for the Million Man March! We bet they would have loved it.)
Freedom’s Lighthouse found video evidence of “Racism & Hate At ‘Restoring Sanity’ Rally” — a guy who said that in America “we’re lynching niggers,” and that U.S. soldiers called Arabs “sand niggers.” The fellow seems to be going for irony, but that’s never a safe bet with rightbloggers, and the thing went viral. Now your grandmother will send you an email informing you that liberals don’t like those people, either.
As if their racism wasn’t bad enough, some ralliers also compared conservatives to Nazis.
Matthew Sheffield at the San Francisco Examiner said, “Rally for Sanity mostly zany but somewhat hateful too as Palin, Beck, Boehner tagged with Hitler mustaches.” Bluegrass Pundit got in on this, as did Blogs for Victory — “It just goes to show,” said BFV, “that in the end, the left is motivated by hatred, and dare I say bigotry.” “Stewart rally shows a Jewish congressman as Hitler,” reported Don Surber.
Hitler mustaches! Comparing public figures to Hitler! Whoever heard of such a thing?
Given that the rally’s comedians and ironic signs and costumes predominated media coverage of the rally, charges of racism and indiscriminate Hitler accusation probably couldn’t be expected to get much traction. So the smarter play would be to find something wrong with the satire itself. Some went with the venerable America-hating angle. Doug Ross noted at the rally a flag “made up of destroyed American flags. But don’t you dare question their patriotism.”
“Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart openly advocate Fabien Social Communism,” said World News Heard Now. “Both are traitors and should be treated with the contempt that entails.” “Colbert & Stewart Bash America,” added a YouTube poster, “& Mock America in Worst Rally Song Ever.”
Others complained that the thing just wasn’t funny. “It was a lot less bitchy and biting than I thought it would be,” said National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg. “It was also a lot less funny.” Goldberg then told his laugh-starved readers to check his own Twitter feed. Samples: “I like Stewart & Co, too. But the MSM ass-kissing of these guys is really an amazing thing to behold. Why R nerd-boomers so enthralled?” and “Shorter Stewart: If all media commentators were David Gergen or David Broder, America would be super-awesome.” This man is obviously qualified to school Stewart and Colbert in the art of getting laffs.
OK, so maybe the jokes were funny, but they were also mean. And partisan. just a conservative girl saw a bunch of snotty signs (e.g., “Don’t Like Government? Move to Somalia. [Take Your AK-47]”) and called it “More Moderation from Sanity Rally.” American Power saw a “Death to Rightwing Extremists (But In a Nice Way)” sign and exploded, “Kinda like ‘humane’ executions.” They see through your “jokes” of death, Sanitards!
“Why, it’s almost as if they intended to appeal to the nuts,” said Jay Tea of Wizbang. Also, Cat Stevens!
Given this, you have to admire the restraint of the many rightbloggers who kept their composure, and simply dismissed the ralliers as smug.
Instapundit denounced the event as “Smugapalooza” — linking to an Americans for Prosperity video which supported the point mainly by playing a funny song (“I’m in love with myself”) over clips the rally’s humorous signs and costumes, which are signs of elitism.
Death By 1000 Papercuts offered a photo funny in which a self-professed “clueless, vapid, ironic hipster doofus” didn’t want someone to “kill my smug buzz, man” with the news about the UPS bomb threats (the proper response to which, we assume, would have been a denunciation, at the very least, of Cat Stevens).
“Sea of smugness,” said Jim Treacher. “Hipsters Rally to Restore Smugness,” said Holy Coast. “The air of smugness was so pervasive,” said RedState, “it was hard to watch the footage and breathe a breath of fresh air.” “There was an atmosphere of imperial smugness in the air,” reported a HillBuzz correspondent, who also denounced the attendees as “rude” seven times, as well as “accusatory,” “nasty,” and given to “bad language.”
“Sane or Smug?” asked National Review‘s Brian Bolduc. Guess. While some attendees were non-partisan funny, “most ralliers were unabashedly liberal,” and some even “blatantly partisan,” said Bolduc. Stewart and Colbert “showed a similar bias in their mock debate… true,” Bolduc noticed in a moment of clarity, “these were comedians joking around… But standing in the crowd, you got the sense that when the ralliers applauded Stewart, they also applauded themselves.” Aha, smug, then! For a moment we thought he was going to surprise us.
And the best antidote to the ralliers’ treasonous humor? Anti-Democrat humor! Instapundit linked to Gateway Pundit’s video of Democorps, which attended one of the satellite rallies and mocked Dem corruption (“The only good deal is a backroom deal!”). It’s a miracle they were tolerated; presumably the other ralliers were too smug to beat them up.
Or you might dismiss the very idea of political humor itself. Americans for Limited Government had their own video, which accused Stewart and Colbert of “Mocking Serious Ralliers For A Few Laughs.” Several Serious Ralliers were shown being serious, and compared with clips of Colbert’s and Stewart’s “culture of mockery.” “While the liberal elite joke,” said ALG, “many people have been involved in these events to voice their opinions seriously.”
And maybe that’s the final lesson. Satire’s been around for a long time, but there’s little evidence that it does much more than provide comfort to those who notice that the world around them is more than a little mad. It’s a refuge for the powerless. Seriousness, on the other hand, is for closers, and conservatives feel themselves on the verge of closing a great electoral victory. That’s why rightbloggers, even the smart ones, admired the August Glenn Beck rally — it was imbecilic, but it was serious as hell, and they knew it represented a source of power for themselves. They can’t laugh when they’re not winning, and they’ll never understand anyone who can.