Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sanity Rally

John Stewart's Rally To Restore Sanity and Keep Fear Alive has now come and gone. Anticipating the rally for weeks, I wondered what to expect

I boarded the rally-bus in Lexington Kentucky. Have you ever tried to sleep on a bus; the odds are not good, but I copped the shot-gun seat next to our driver Rick and looked straight into a huge harvest moon as we rode into the mountains of West Virginia which were stunningly beautiful in the luminous moon-light.

Dawn found us passing through the Civil War towns of the Shenandoah Valley and closing on our nations capitol in increasingly heavy traffic.

Our driver was a veteran of many rallies and executed astute turns and redirects to arrive at our designated drop off point @ Union Station, but there we were abruptly turned away by a very sarcastic and ill-tempered cop who gave Rick a two-hundred and fifty dollar ticket for stopping and daring to ask, if not there -- -- then where, were we sup-post to disembark our bus!

Well, so much for sanity and / or civility so far!

We finally got the correct word and disembarked on foot a few blocks from the Mall. When I arrived at the rally proper it was a couple of hours downrange and getting close to the stage was an impossibility. There were some rock bands that are unknown to me and between sets I could just identify the voices of Cobair and Stewart.

The only set that I could hear clearly was Jon awarding the 'Running With Scissors Award' , an award for institutional cowardliness, to NPR for their having banned their employees from attending the rally!

I cannot begin to estimate the number of people in attendance; from my perspective on the ground and in an unfamiliar city it was very disorienting, but moving away from Stewart's show I found a large and fluid masses of people moving along the mall in every direction from the east steps of the Capitol to the Washington Monument.

What I soon discovered was that the crowd, it being Halloween Eve and all, was the show! I met some nice people with interesting signs and thought provoking ideas. It was some grand street theater all-right; lots of folks were not only in costume but in character also. I met Dick Chaney and Glenn Beck and a band of Merry Pranksters also!

Leaving, the same way I came in, through the Shenandoah Valley and through battle towns like New Market and Front Royal that are emblematic of Stonewall Jackson and the repeated defeats of the Union Armies -- -- My overactive mind could not help but make a compare-some to some present day culture wars -- --

The Civil War was a rich man's war and a poor man's fight, in which a tactically talented, materially poor but highly motivated minority (which espouse terrible and morally reprehensible idea by the way) was easily able to influence men to act against their own self-interest and repeatedly defeat a far more numerous and powerful opponent.

I think the nice people that I met at that rally were searching for an answer to that conundrum: How do you advance progressive ideas in an atmosphere that is so counter-intuitive, toxic and delusional? If the rally had a theme, it was about dispensing with anger and cultivating civility.

The whole progressive world is searching for a way to do that and has been for a long time. The world needs a way to address some tough issues like climate change and some really smart people are looking for ways to cross that line and find a consensus so that we can move forward while there is still some time.

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for that, but I do not think any degree of civility would have ever persuaded the likes of that 'blue eyed killer' Thomas Jackson and likewise I do not see that as ever persuading the present group of misdirected rebels!

I don't think there is anything for it but to quit cowering in the corner, when they bellow -- -- bellow back. I'm for being nice and reasonable, but being too nice to the wrong people has so far been Obama's only mistake!