Slide Show: Reader Photos from the Rally to Restore Sanity | The Nation

Slide Show: Reader Photos from the Rally to Restore Sanity

  • Stephen Colbert (left) and Jon Stewart onstage at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, October 30 (1 of 9)

    One day before Halloween and three days before what will be a pivotal midterm election, the politically engaged, the politically blasé, pot-smoking seniors, families, hipsters and the occasional gaggle of people costumed as Chilean miners gathered on the National Mall Saturday to watch comedians Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert’s satirical Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive.


    “As I look out here today, I can see we have at least ten million people,” Stewart deadpanned to the crowd with faux Glenn Beck-ian certainty.


    Well, ish.


    In her coverage of the rally for The Nation, Laura Stampler reports that  CBS News via AirPhotosLive.com—the same company used to determine the number of participants at Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in August—put the rally's crowd at 215,000 people.  Beck had 87,000.


    Credit: Reuters Pictures

  • The view from the Mall (2 of 9)

    As early as 8 am, the Metros were overcrowded to the point that the doors had difficulty closing. Even AT&T couldn’t handle the traffic.


    “You want fear, Colbert?” shouted an iPhone waving twenty-something dressed as a giant tea bag. “I can’t text!”


    Given that Comedy Central’s permit was for an estimated 60,000 participants (although the Wall Street Journal noted that they ordered enough port-a-potties for 150,000), thousands were unable to get into the cordoned-off blocks of the Mall. Adolescents and senior citizens were cheered on as they climbed into trees and onto the tops of port-a-potties to get a glimpse of the elevated video screens.


    Credit: Flickr user howard_morland

  • God hates Fox News (3 of 9)

    Those who couldn’t get into the Mall to see the show gathered on the steps of the National Gallery, clogged the streets—it took 20 minutes to travel one block—or formed their own protest around a FOX News van.


    Parker Lawrence took a picture of himself flipping off the van before re-joining three other hat-wearing comrades, one with a cigarette cap, the other a femur and the last, a hat in the shape of pin.


    “We’re tea baggers, but that’s obvious. I’m a shithead,” the feces-capped Philadelphian said, “and then there’s a butthead, a bonehead and a pinhead.” Parker was untroubled by his inability to view the events onstage, saying that one of the most important parts of the event was seeing the people who came in support of it.


    Credit: Flickr user garybcross

  • An estimated 215,000 people attended the rally (4 of 9)

    Those who made it into the barricaded blocks of the Mall not only enjoyed the vendors’ kosher hot dogs and black bean burgers, but also reveled in a high-energy and well-choreographed spectacle that was in line with the style of the Daily Show and Colbert Report: a mixture of political commentary and comedic play.


    Credit: Flickr user mikarpman

  • The asses of evil (5 of 9)

    There was mock fighting, an award given to Anderson Cooper’s tight black shirt, a battle of the bands between Ozzie Osbourne and the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), sing-along songs and the reading of the worst poem in the world by the “most reasonable man in America,” Sam Waterston (cue the Law & Order “dun dun”… but really).


    Credit: Flickr user mac166688

  • OMG GOP (6 of 9)

    Serious social and political commentary did shine through the rally’s absurdity and grand acts of showmanship. For example, Stewart hailed acts of rationality by a diverse group of Americans (ranging from the YouTube sensation who stole a Koran that was about to be burned to a pro-wrestler who threatened to beat up homophobic middle school bullies) and had one of the Real Housewife of New Jersey apologize for flipping over a table and calling another housewife a “prostitution whore.” The rally was a reaction to overreaction and ended with Stewart giving a fifteen-minute speech calling for national unity and denouncing the media’s tendencies to sensationalize animosity between different political or social groups.


    Credit: Flickr user mac166688

  • Get your corporations off my free elections (7 of 9)

    Although the rally took place just days before the election, there were no statements encouraging people to vote. “I think people should do what moves them,” Stewart said in a press conference following the rally. “It’s not my place to make that choice for them.”


    However, President Obama’s Organizing for America did set up a “Phonebank to Restore Sanity” event that began directly following the rally.


    Credit: Flickr user tamalaa

  • Sanity prevailed (8 of 9)

    At their press conference following the march, both Stewart and Colbert emphasized the fact that at the end of the day their rally was not political, it was a TV show. “Our currency isn’t this town’s currency… we don’t have a constituency,” Stewart said. “We do television shows for people who like them, and we just hope that the people like them so that Comedy Central can sell beer to young people. As long as they do that, we’re allowed to do our shows.”


    Credit: Flickr user tamalaa

  • I disagree (9 of 9)

    Colbert said that his main goal was for people to be entertained: “[The audience was] there to play a game along with us… hopefully they enjoyed our intentions.”


    But with thousands kicking up the dirt surrounding the Mall as they exited, many lingered holding signs that reflected the many ways to construe the rally.


    Colbert-esque conservatism: “Take a bath hippies!”


    Reflection on the media: “Hyperbole is the best thing ever.”


    And commentary on many Americans’ current relationship with the political establishment: “It’s a sad day when our politicians are comical and I have to take our comedians politically.”


    Thank you to all the Flickr users who uploaded pictures from the rally to The Nation's group pool.


    Credit: Flickr user tamalaa

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