I attended the October 30th Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for two simple reasons: the first was to demonstrate that all the noise being generated by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party was not representative of my opinions. The second was to avoid the sentence, “I’d like to go, but…” In the end, Stewart was right. It was nice to demonstrate and remember that by and large we are a nation of rational, non-angry people trying to figure stuff out. And our 24/7 News system is severely broken.
As a fan of Keith Olbermann, I am disappointed that he spent so much time finding fault in the Rally4Sanity to defend his little corner of the world instead of applauding Stewart for not being divisive in his rally. Just targeting Fox News or the Tea Party would have defeated the purpose. Yes, Fox and The Tea Party are the biggest culprits and we all know it, but they are not the only ones guilty of using fear and polarizing arguments. Stewart was right, and Olbermann’s response demonstrates it.
I am also a Cat Stevens’ fan. People trying to use the presence of Yusef Islam as an reason to show the Insanity of this rally also demonstrate Stewart’s point. Yusef Islam never called for or supported the death penalty for Salman Rushdie. From Rolling Stone:
I’m very sad that this seems to be the No. 1 question people want to discuss. I had nothing to do with the issue other than what the media created. I was innocently drawn into the whole controversy. So, after many years, I’m glad at least now that I have been given the opportunity to explain to the public and fans my side of the story in my own words. At a lecture, back in 1989, I was asked a question about blasphemy according to Islamic Law, I simply repeated the legal view according to my limited knowledge of the Scriptural texts, based directly on historical commentaries of the Qur’an. The next day the newspaper headlines read, “Cat Says, Kill Rushdie.” I was abhorred [appalled?], but what could I do? I was a new Muslim. If you ask a Bible student to quote the legal punishment of a person who commits blasphemy in the Bible, he would be dishonest if he didn’t mention Leviticus 24:16.
For the most part, the coverage of the Rally to Restore Sanity demonstrated just how right Stewart was in his closing remarks. Having attended myself, I am refreshed and renewed in the knowledge that we are still a nation of reasonable, hopeful people trying to help each other out, no matter what the television tells me.