Roundup on the Stewart Rally
This might be useful if even one right winger gave a damn. Essentially he’s just telling the left to pipe down. They sure won’t.
For example, Juan Cole points out that while Stewart was urging the left to tone it down, Ted Nugent was in Charleston urging white fascists to fumigate rats like Nancy Pelosi, people who he helpfully clarifies are not “bad” but actually “evil”:
Nugent’s rhetorical technique is to dehumanize his opponents. Pelosi does not have a political ally but a “puppet.” The Democratic representatives are not humans, but “rats.” He is talking about Al Franken, John Dingell, and Nancy Pelosi. They are rodents and ‘varmints.’ He even uses the language of mass murder against them. He calls for them to be ‘fumigated.’ That the Democratic Party is the party of urban ethnic minorities, of Italian and Polish Catholics, of Jews, of Latinos and African-Americans, and that Nugent was demonizing them before an all-white rally in West Virginia, underlines the ethnic tensions on which he was implicitly playing, and in that context his imagery of extermination is extremely smelly.
PZ Myers calls it “an afternoon of false equivalence, of civility fetishism, of nothing but a cry about the national tone, of a plea for moderation”:
Once again, we have someone bravely standing up and telling the people on their own side to stop being dicks, while being vague on the names and specifics…So I’m at a loss about what we’re supposed to do in the world according to Jon Stewart. Hey, all you people working for gay and lesbian equality, all you women asking for equal pay, all you workers trying to unionize, all you peaceniks trying to end the war in Afghanistan, all you nurses and doctors and clinic workers trying to maintain reproductive freedom and keep women alive, all you teachers trying to teach science and history without censorship, all you citizens trying to build a rational health care policy, all you scientists and doctors who want our country to progress in medical research, all you damned secularists who want to keep religion out of our schools and government, hey, hey, HEY, you! Tone it down. Quit making such a fuss. You’re too loud. Shush. You’re as crazy as the teabaggers if you think your principles are worth fighting for.
Per Myers, this is Jules Boykin on civility fetishism:
…in the run-up to the Rally to Restore Sanity, Stewart’s ever-growing audience has been dished up a hefty dose of civility fetishism. While many are tired of the obnoxious and the obstreperous dominating the political news cycle, the ‘truthiness’ of the matter is that the villains of history have all too often cloaked their iniquity in civility, convincing us the inequality du jour is simply the new normal. In fact, it has taken quite a bit of civil-and uncivil-disobedience to undo the damage unleashed by the zealous civilizers of the past.
In his original call to action, Stewart lumped together the Tea Party Movement with 9-11 Truthers and anti-war groups like Code Pink. Later Stewart dubbed Belgian protesters demonstrating against state austerity measures “lunatics” on par with Tea Party activists who screech from the screen, “The only good communist is a dead communist.” But by equating high-pitched tone with extremist politics, he plunks an unreasonable correlation at the center of his plea for reason. This logic touts the tone and tactics of the messenger in order to discount the message. Apparently, if you sport a suit and advocate unequivocally unreasonable practices like waterboarding, but do so in a friendly, down-home way using “your indoor voice,” you may well escape Stewart’s incisive wit. However, should you dip your hands in fake blood and attend a congressional hearing in order to make the completely reasonable argument that foreign wars are wasting precious lives and squandering scarce funds, you can expect to have the comedian slot you in the nutjob category.
In addition to noting that it was bad comedy, Gerry Canavan notes that it was also really bad organizing:
From my place in the crowd it seemed to me that what many people in the crowd wanted was recognition that they too are a collective, that they too constitute a “movement,” that there are other people who think like they do and want what they want and that all such people might get together and work together to make things happen. They’re people who believe alternatives are possible and necessary and want someone to show them where to go to get it. But Stewart’s supposed call for civility and “reasonableness” is completely orthogonal to that drive, if not actively destructive of it—and the Rally to Restore Sanity a pointless, poorly executed exercise in self-promotion that is already completely forgotten.
Destructural explains to Samantha Bee what “Make Total Destroy” means:
In last night’s segment, [Daily Show and Colbert Report people] talked to Washington’s indigenous protesters, including one prominent DC anarcho-cutie. When asked to write an encapsulating slogan on a piece of poster-board, the masked anarchist wrote “MAKE TOTAL DESTROY.” Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee says, “That makes no sense,” but that’s because she’s not familiar with contemporary ultra-left mythology.
Here’s the way I remember hearing the story, I don’t know if it’s true per se, and I don’t suppose it much matters. There was an anti-IMF consultation in DC, and representatives from all over the world were discussing what actions their communities would take locally. Person by person, they detailed comprehensive plans for direct actions, balancing risks and possible rewards, the various statements they would be making, the composition of coalitions, etc. These kinds of meetings can stretch on and on, and are often filled with all sorts of bullshit posturing and rarefied code words. In short, they can be insufferable. The discussion finally gets around to a Greek anarchist group. The Greeks are internationally known for being especially militant (and awesome). Their spokesman addresses the assembly and says simply, “We will make total destroy.” Everyone looks incredulous and confused. The Greek spokesman, fearing he has miscommunicated, excuses himself to confer with his group. He speaks with them in hurried Greek, and the rest of the assembly seems relieved that there will be further explanation. After the short clarification, the spokesman turns to the room again and says, “Yes, we will make total destroy.”
Michael Barthel on what the hell has gotten into Jon Stewart.
But Tim Burke points out that civic rituals like Halloween (and the RfS, by extension) are rocket fueled awesome.