Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

Jon Stewart on American tolerance and turning our backs on hate

Assisted by a colorful cast of characters, Comedy Central funnymen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a raucous rally on the National Mall. Amidst all the hilarity, the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” carried a message about Americans turning their backs on hate and working together to make the world a better place.

“The country’s 24-hour politico pundit perpetual panic conflictinator” did not cause the nation’s problems, Stewart said, “but its existence makes solving them that much harder … If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”

“There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned,” Stewart said. “You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate — just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.”

Most Americans, he said, don’t live their lives solely as Republicans or Democrats, but as “people who are just a little bit late for something they have to do, often something they do not want to do. But they do it.”

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One Response to “Jon Stewart on American tolerance and turning our backs on hate”

  1. Similar thoughts from Jim Leach, a Republican member of Congress for 30 years – from: AARP Bulletin, October 1, 2010

    Politics has high and low moments. For instance, Thomas Jefferson was described as anti-Christian by partisan critics. At the zenith of anti-Catholic sentiment in the 19th century, rumors were circulated that Abraham Lincoln was Catholic. In the 20th century, in an era of rampant anti-Semitism, it was suggested that Franklin Roosevelt was a Jew.

    Today, President Obama has been referred to as a fascist. And in a period of rising Islamophobia, our president is even described as a secret Muslim.

    What is wrong with false accusations and preposterous hyperbole? Plenty. Some frameworks of thought describe rival ideas; other frameworks define enemies or, worse yet, infidels.

    Today’s rancorous politics is becoming radicalized in manipulative ways that divide Americans. That is why, in this election season, fidelity to civility may be as important as any stand a candidate may take.

    Civility is not simply about manners. It doesn’t mean that spirited advocacy is to be avoided. What it does require is a willingness to consider respectfully the views of others, with an understanding that we are all connected and rely on one another.

    And civility is a central ingredient of a democratic society.

    Citizens should be expected to disagree vigorously with each other and take their disagreements to the ballot box. But the outcome that matters most after divisive campaigns is whether the prevailing candidates have the commitment to work together for the common good. A government of, by and for the people is obligated to conduct the nation’s business in a manner that respects dissent.

    We cannot lead the world unless we morally rearm, not with intolerance for others, but with faith in traditional American ideals — honor, dignity, love of or at least respect for neighbors, near and far. As Lincoln noted in words borrowed from Scripture, a house divided cannot stand.


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