Rally for Sanity from Jon Stewart was long in ideas but maybe short in practice

Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

I was in Washington D.C. on Saturday when the Rally for Sanity, put on by the crew at the satirical Daily Show, which is already been billed as the Woodstock for my generation.

I didn’t really see or hear much,  as there were some big audio problems and, well, maybe as many as 215,000 people were there. But I suppose that won’t much matter.

I was there, or near there, specifically, and, of course, there in the broader sense of being 24 at a time when people my age were trying to do something.

I’ve read through quite a bit of what happened there, listened to the speeches and read the words.

Listen to Stewart’s closing speech below, read it here or watch it here.

I don't find this constructive. Photo by Kim Baker

Ultimately, no one can argue with the populism of calling to back down the divisiveness and trying to work together. I can support that like anyone.

But I’m always skeptical of too much enthusiasm there. Despite Stewart’s words, which were beautiful and will be surely remembered for a long time, I don’t much believe anything much will happen because of it. Woodstock didn’t cause anything, to be sure, it just came to represent something.

Maybe this will too.

When I was leaving the Online News Association, which actually had me in D.C., and walking toward the Mall, I kept walking across mostly young people — but not entirely — who wore the stickers and T-shirts of the rally and held a sign or had a word or flashed a bumper sticker of attacking as abruptly the right as most at the rally would accuse the right of attacking the left.

There were a lot of signs and a lot of people, so I’m certainly not speaking about everyone. But I’m not convinced that those in Stewart’s camp who would criticize without hesitation those with dissenting views are necessarily the minority.

Some of those examples could be seen in the wildly popular rally signs like here, here, here, here and certainly here.

It’s that circle — in which we justify name-calling and derision by saying the other side did it first — that leaves me less than moved by the moment I was so near to.

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