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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Rally transcends politics, comedy to unite moderates

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was held at Washington DC’s National Mall on Oct. 30. The purpose of the gathering, according to comedian and Rally host Jon Stewart was to restore civility through dialogue across the political spectrum. (Rachael Travis)

On Oct. 30, I woke up early in Washington, D.C., having forsaken homework, dances, and festivals to drive all night to the city. I waded through floods of pedestrian traffic, ate only a bagel, and had the right side of my face sunburned until I looked like Two-Face. I was on my feet all day and drove all night once again.

Many news organizations forbade their employees from attending the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Luckily, The Guilfordian was not among them.

After making signs, my friends and I started our march down 7th Street to the National Mall in a group that snowballed until it became an avalanche upon reaching Madison Drive.

A rally-goer behind me commented, “This is almost like the march for equal rights, but less important.”

But after hearing Jon Stewart’s closing speech, and seeing the National Mall fill up from the U.S. Capitol all the way back to the Washington Monument in an estimated crowd of 215,000, I realized that this rally cannot be dismissed as insignificant. While nowhere near as important as the civil rights movement, this rally was more than just a traveling comedy show, even if much of it was humorous.

Understand that I don’t go to rallies, protests, and the like. I avoid them because the overwhelming sense of partisanship turns me off. I didn’t sense that at this rally, and I felt more American there than I have anywhere else.

Of course, I am one of those delinquent youths who gets all his news from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” and I am unashamed about it. So, standing on the National Mall in my “Jon Stewart for President ’08” shirt, I was more inclined to see importance in this rally than most.

The mainstream media seems to be pegging this as either a comedy show or a political rally. It was funny, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy show. People carried political signs, but I wouldn’t call it a political rally. At the end of the day, the phrase “Rally to Restore Sanity” is the best descriptor available; it was a gathering of people ready to work together reasonably, regardless of politics. Having a good time and laughing didn’t diminish that sentiment.

“It solidified Jon Stewart’s status as my favorite person in the world,” said UNC Chapel Hill junior Hanna Bustillo. “It was funny, but it had a serious message, which I appreciated.”

“It made me feel like our generation does cool stuff,” her companion, UNC Chapel Hill sophomore Ben Berk, added.

Berk’s comment about “our generation” caught my attention. I don’t want to be so arrogant as to say that this was a defining moment of this generation, but being there and hearing Stewart say, “Everyone has a right to be patriotic,” it sure felt that way. This was something I’ll remember like the last generation remembers Woodstock. Sadly, I cannot do justice to the event and Stewart’s speech in particular.

“Sanity will always be and always has been in the eye of the beholder,” Stewart said in closing. “To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine.”

Mine too, Jon. Mine too.


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