October 19, 2010

Thoughts on the Rally to Restore Sanity

restore sanityI just read a thought-provoking post over at Cubik's Rube about Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity." For the record, I am a fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart even if I don't catch every episode. And yet, I have mixed feelings about his rally. To the degree that it is designed to mock Glenn Beck's Christian extremist rally, I'm for it. I also applaud the effort to bring some civility back to political discourse. But to the degree that Stewart's rally is designed to promote the false belief that the far right and far left are equally wrong, equally delusional, etc., not so much. I find this particular both-sides-are-equally-wrong approach dangerously misleading.

To be clear, there is plenty of crazy on the left. One has to look no further than the obsession with homeopathy, all things holistic, and other New Age bullshit of the sort breathlessly promoted by Huffington Post to see what I mean. But this is hardly equivalent to what we find on the right. The left has some nutty conspiracy theories too, but again, they are hardly equivalent to what we see on the right. Efforts to equate both sides are mistaken.

Both sides use dirty campaign tactics designed to mislead and manipulate (Rep. Grayson's recent "Taliban Dan" ads come to mind). Both sides are so saturated with corporate money that we are unlikely to see anything but the status quo without major campaign finance reform of the sort both sides will oppose. So yeah, there are similarities.

But at the same time, much of what we see from the far-right sounds dangerous whereas some of what comes from the far left is just silly. And what are we to make of the many issues where one side is clearly wrong? The far-right says that gays should be killed, while the far left says that they should be treated equally. Should we really be seeking a middle ground here? The far-right says that atheists are evil, while the far left says that atheists should just shut up and be nicer to religious people. What is the middle ground here? Is it even wise to be civil in the face of some of the hatred and bigotry spewing from the right?