I’ve gotten a lot of flack for taking a critical look at the Rally to Restore Sanity last weekend. Most of the commenters argued that the rally was important because it served as a much-needed call for civility and a critique of the mainstream media for its fear-mongering and sensationalism.
I couldn’t agree more. While I wasn’t able to watch the whole rally, the excerpts that I heard of Jon Stewart’s closing speech were very poignant.
My problem was that I thought the way Stewart framed the rally on his show was insulting to traditional activism. By arguing that real Americans don’t protest because they have “shit to do,” I felt Stewart implied that demonstrators are often on the street because they don’t have anything better to do. For most of the activists that I know, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Perhaps in response to others who made similar critiques, Stewart explicitly said during his closing remarks that his intention was not to ridicule “people of faith or people of activism.”
Nevertheless, his inclusion of Kid Rock in the lineup showed not only his poor taste in music, but his disregard for the power of everyday folks to effect change and make the world a better place.
Preforming “Care” off his new CD, Kid Rock sang to the crowd of more than 200,000:
“I can’t stop the war, shelter homeless, feed the poor… I can’t change the world and make things fair. The least that I can do is care.”
When I heard that refrain, I was shocked. What an incredibly disempowering message to give anyone, let alone an enormous throng at a rally. We can stop the wars if we work together, and I’m good friends with people who shelter the homeless and feed the poor every day. These things are desperately needed and completely doable, and there is absolutely no justification for telling anyone otherwise. Simply “caring” is not enough.