Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear
On October 30, over 200,000 people, zombies, Waldos and pretend Tea Partiers gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” a three-hour event led by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
The rally was held to give Americans a voice over the 15 to 20 percent of “extreme” Americans who “control the conversations,” Stewart said on “The Daily Show” in mid-September. It was also considered a response to Fox News host Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in August.
“The country’s 24-hour politico-pundit-perpetual-panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder,” Stewart said in his 12-minute closing address that summed the rally up. “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing,” he added.
It was initially two separate events — Stewart announced “The Rally to Restore Sanity” on his show on September 16 and asked viewers to “take it down a notch for America.” The same night, Colbert announced “The March to Keep Fear Alive.”
The event drew over 215,000 people, according to Air Photos Live for CBS. Only 87,000 attended Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
In D.C., the Metro was crowded with people, making it difficult to even enter the station. The Metro saw a record 825,437 trips October 30, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. An average Saturday gets about 350,000 trips.
At the rally, Stewart and Colbert played up sanity versus fear. Stewart awarded “Medals of Reasonableness” to Armando Galarraga and Mick Foley, among others. Colbert, on the other hand, awarded “Medals of Fear” to Mark Zuckerberg, Anderson Cooper’s black t-shirt and several news outlets.
Yusef Islam. formerly known as Cat Stevens, performed “Peace Train” in support of sanity, but was interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne, who performed “Crazy Train” for Colbert. Stewart and Colbert finally compromised on “Love Train” performed by The O’Jays.
Stewart and Colbert also donned matching American flag zip-up sweaters and sang the “Greatest, Strongest Country in the World,” an original song for the rally, with Jeff Tweedy. Other performers included The Roots, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and Tony Bennett.
On the National Mall, people stood on overflowing trash cans and climbed on top of Porta-Potties to get a glimpse of the stage. The designated stage area was full, forcing police to only let people in as others exited.
Ralliers who couldn’t get near the stage marched in the streets around it, waving their signs and showing their costumes off.
Signs ranged from popular Internet memes to mocking Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell. Some were about serious issues, like “I am a Muslim and I’m afraid of terrorists too,” while others simply stated “This is a sign.”
Popular costumes included Smurfs, “Harry Potter” characters and robots. Many people dressed as variations of the Mad Hatter and attached tea bags to their posters. Others, like Nancy from Colorado Springs, Colorado, had serious costumes. She dressed up as the Invisible Man with her husband to symbolize the “disappearing middle class in America.”