From jumping up and down making loud, simultaneous noises to listening to the familiar strains of “Love Train” and the wit of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Saturday’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” merits comparison to the Land of Oz.
Tens of thousands of hipsters (scarecrows) descended on the United States Capitol just three days before a historic election They came not to rally for a candidate, an important issue, or a worthy cause - but to restore faith in the notion that those who really don’t care about much can get into buses and descend on the capitol in as many numbers as those who do.
They came to show their support for - or rather their lack of support - for caring too much about anything (not many tin men in the crowd). Many traveled over land courtesy of the Huffington Post; some Flying Monkeys came from all over the country on this quest. The rally was in response to the one earlier in the summer of Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck supporters, who waved patriotic banners hailing God and country.
The main draw was the comedic genius, Jon Stewart. Each day on the Daily Show he serves up laughter at everyone’s expense, putting his biting spin on the news of the day. During the last election, we learned that many young Americans actually get their news and information from Jon Stewart rather than traditional news sources. He has become a man of our times - larger than life - observing and commenting on the world without seriousness and giving the impression that he knows something we don’t.
And so at this strategic time in the nation, as thousands of lost Dorothys followed the yellow brick road leading to the rally, no doubt many thought proximity to Stewart would bring even more clarity to the confusion of the day. On the way they saw signs saying, “I masturbate and I vote.” “Jon 3:16” “ War is not free, Teabaggers. Pay Your Taxes.” “Ask. Tell” Yes, it was a real Oz, complete with “Witches for O’Donnell.” They heard an invocation thanking God for parking spaces. And then proceeding very much in the manner of Sesame Street fuzzy characters teaching “up” versus “down,” here is what they learned:
1. Littering is bad.
2. It is wrong to care very much about anything. Anyone who does is an extremist. Being an extremist is bad. We can’t be very upset about anything but we can be very upset about extremists.
(A participant with the “right” perspective gave the finger to the FOX News Satellite truck as a good example. He must have been the only lion.)
3. It is wrong to feel strongly about any religion. This lesson was begun by Father Sarducci of Saturday Night fame leading a “prayer” asking God which religion was the “right” one.
The “right” way to feel is that all religions are pretty much the same. None are worthy of personal strong devotion because that would be extreme. Muslims are exempted from this rule. Even though their Koran and their prophet Mohammed encouraged intolerance, subjugation and murder of those who don’t embrace Islam, we are not under any circumstances to confuse those who take this teaching seriously with those who don’t. The right way to think is always to assume the Muslims in our midst DON’T take the Koran seriously.
“Muslims for Peace” leaflets flooded the mall. Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, the radical convert to Islam who has openly encouraged violence to Israel, sang on stage providing a powerful example of the exception rule as Abdul Kareem-Jabbar, former just plain black American basketball player also known for caring very much about racism…took the stage.
Lesson 4: Muslim strong beliefs are the only ones to be tolerated.
Then looking in anticipation stage-ward, the crowd was held in rapt attention as their hip oracle stood to speak in somber tones.
What they experienced was as revealing as the moment Dorothy and her entourage discovered the Wizard whom they had so revered was simply a man with an artificially amplified voice sitting behind a curtain.
Stewart didn’t pretend to be anything else. He confessed his own confusion and proceeded to deliver a speech revealing more of his personal angst.
“We live in hard times…not end times.”
“If we amplify everything…we hear nothing.”
“Sanity will always be, and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today has restored mine.” End of speech.
The Wizard was done. Find the red shoes, click your heels together three times, and everything will be all right. Nothing is seriously wrong…no God should be taken too seriously…extremists (people who think otherwise) are to be derided and we can go our laughing, cynical way descending like munchkins further into Oz.
Except for one thing. The problems of this world are serious. The dangers are real. As the Rally Crowd was frolicking on the mall, Iran was readying a nuclear weapon that will undoubtedly start a world war. Terrorists who are Muslim are training in our midst to murder and the laughing people on the mall won’t be exempt.
No nation has taken a laissez faire attitude toward morality and survived. Greece and Rome were as powerful and certainly more long lasting than the United States and they crumbled from within from decadence. We shall not do otherwise. Abortion isn’t a band-aid to remedy an inconvenient injury, it is murder. China is rapidly taking control of our financial future. Without money we can’t defend ourselves…much less provide shelter and food for our families and ourselves.
These problems are real and anyone who laughs in the face of them is a fool.
Many of the people gathered on the National Mall for the “Rally to Restore Sanity” are as insane as the loveable characters in that old film. Unserious-minded minions following a lost wizard to the brink of destruction.
There may be no litter, but it doesn’t look like Kansas anymore.