Paul R. Hollrah
The Anti-Rally Rally
September 27, 2010
On August 28, 2010, Fox talk show host and commentator Glen Beck held a rally on
the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The theme of the rally was
"Restore Honor,” a most worthy goal...one that modern day America needs to
pursue with renewed passion.
People from all over the country bought plane, train, and bus tickets, or
carpooled with others to attend the rally. So many traveled to Washington for
the rally that hotel rooms were impossible to get. Some rally-goers were
required to book hotels and motels forty or fifty miles away.
The rally was a huge success, drawing some 500,000 to 650,000 people from every
state in the nation. They were orderly and well-behaved, and when the
professional black rabble-rouser, Rev. Al Sharpton, announced that he would hold
a counter rally in southeast Washington, just a few miles away, some feared that
the two groups might clash and that the competing rallies would devolve into 60s
There is little doubt that that was precisely what Sharpton had in mind. If
there was to be yet another opportunity to convince black Americans that the
American Dream was not there for them unless they maintained their solidarity
with the Democrat Party, in spite of decades of professional black agitation and
welfare pimping by himself and Jesse Jackson, he wanted to be sure that he was
there to lead the attack, violent or non-violent, for the network TV cameras.
Clearly, Beck and his organizers understood that the potential for violence lay
just beneath the surface. In response, and to prevent his peaceful rally from
becoming just another excuse for the mainstream media to bash the Tea Party
movement, Beck requested that those attending his rally not come armed with
anti-big government, anti-tax, anti-spending, and anti-Obama picket signs. And
in spite of the fact that those attending his rally had transported tons of
poster board and other sign-making materials for just that purpose, they all
honored his request. Hardly a picket sign was to be seen in the immense crowd.
It must have been a big disappointment for Sharpton, who had already scheduled
appearances on every network to deliver his post-mortem on the Beck rally. As it
turned out, he was at a loss for words. His only point of quickly-manufactured
controversy was the charge that Beck and his mostly white crowd had attempted to
hijack Martin Luther King’s legacy. Most viewers responded with a yawn or a
But now we learn that the rally concept is about to grow a painful wart. Seeing
a grassroots patriotic movement take shape right before their eyes, where
millions of hard-working, tax-paying Americans have become sufficiently aroused
to take to the streets...a phenomenon that has heretofore been largely the
province of the violence-prone elements of organized labor and the radical
left...some leftists see the need to mock the process in such a way as to
discredit the Beck rally and the Tea Party movement. Late night comedians Jon
Stewart and Stephen Colbert have announced plans to hold a rally in Washington,
DC, a la the Beck rally.
The question is, will it work or will the idea fall flat on its face? I say it
will fall flat on its face...for a number of very good reasons.
First, who is to lead the effort? Who are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? These
are men of marginal comedic ability who are cheap imitations of David Letterman,
who is a cheap imitation of Jay Leno, who is the widely-accepted heir to the
throne of Johnny Carson. They are the pied-pipers of a segment of our population
who are simply too intellectually lazy to form real political opinions of their
own and who find it convenient to mask their ignorance of history and current
affairs with a bit of humor.
After graduating from our public schools, where they learn so little about
American history and government that few could compete with naturalized
citizens, they are suddenly thrust into an adult world where they find
themselves with both free speech and voting rights...real grown-up
They haven’t the foggiest notion of what to do with those newfound
responsibilities so they tune in to either Stewart or Colbert where they are
sure to find safety in numbers. As members of that audience they will never be
required to embarrass themselves by publicly displaying their ignorance. That is
what Stewart and Colbert are all about, and nothing more. They provide comedic
cover for the politically ignorant and the intellectually lazy.
In August 1969, thousands of mostly young people gathered on a large farm near
Bethel, New York for an outdoor rock concert. It was what came to be known as
Woodstock...a three-day orgy of incredibly bad music, drunkenness, sex, and
drugs. It was an opportunity for teens and twenty-somethings to get drunk,
stoned, and laid, all in broad daylight and with all of the world looking on. In
many respects, the level of irresponsibility that Woodstock meant to the music
world, is little different from what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert mean to the
serious business of politics and government.
The one great difference is that Woodstock represented a memorable moment in the
American culture. It will be long remembered as a generational sea change; the
Stewart-Colbert rally will not. It will be quickly forgotten because it will
have no real purpose, much like the lives of most who will attend. It is not
political advancement or enlightenment, it is pure political escapism.
Will Stewart and Colbert attract large crowds to their rally...comparable to the
Beck rally? Not likely. Unlike the Stewart and Colbert audiences, those who
attended the Beck rally were people who had attended primary and secondary
schools when it really meant something; they were people who behaved themselves
in school and who did their homework; they were people who had jobs, who showed
up for work every day, on time, and who gave their employers their very best
It is people like these who would drive for days to attend a day-long rally with
the theme, "Restore Honor.” It does not describe the Stewart and Colbert
Can we expect those who are too intellectually lazy to form their own political
opinions to travel all the way to Washington for nothing more than a pointless
counter-rally designed to mock the Beck rally? Not likely. If Stewart and
Colbert are able to draw a tenth, or even a hundredth of the crowd that attended
the Beck rally, they will be locals...mostly government employees who will take
off work, on the taxpayer’s dime, to attend.
It will be yet another metaphor for left wing politics in America.