Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear


Posted on Friday, November 5, 2010 by Deb Phillips | 2 Comments 

OVER THE PAST YEAR, I’ve traveled to the nation’s capital numerous times to document a variety of rallies — both conservative and liberal.

None of the previous rallies, though, was anything like the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear held on October 30, 2010 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the rally, as it was billed as a “non-protest” and a non-political event. But since it was hosted by Comedy Central comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — masters of irony and satire — it promised to be entertaining, at the very least.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear - National Mall - Washington, D.C.

This Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear info marker stood at the 7th Street entrance to the rally on the National Mall.

The rally program included antics by Stewart and Colbert, along with musical performances by The Roots, John Legend, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, The O’Jays, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and Tony Bennett.

C-SPAN provided live coverage of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The video can be viewed online at C-SPAN Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

The crowd size was estimated as high as 215,000, a number that seems plausible to me, based on the estimates of previous rallies I’ve covered. Absent press credentials, I was not permitted to photograph at the front of the rally, so I set out to capture as many images of the crowd as I could, which involved lots of walking, even heading back to the Washington Monument at one point for some distance shots.

View of U.S. Capitol from the edge of the National Mall at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

The rally crowd is shown here expanding northward to the vicinity of the National Gallery of Art from the stage’s location near 3rd Street on the National Mall.

Sharing Some Observations

Indeed, the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a comical and satirical event. That didn’t, however, preclude it from also being an arena in which the crowd enthusiastically expressed their political viewpoints — in varying ways and degrees.

In the remainder of this article, I’ll share my observations and opinions related to the mainstream media’s double standard regarding how they typically cover Tea Party events versus liberal/Left events. But first, I’ll share some observations regarding the hypocrisy of the Left, which was very much on exhibit at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Signs of the Times

Uncivil Signs
On the morning following the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Christiane Amanpour, host of ABC’s This Week, described the rally as having been a “comic appeal to civility and unity.” That phrasing caught my attention, because it wasn’t long after I had arrived at the rally that I became aware of the incongruity between the altruistic messages I was hearing from Jon Stewart and the not-so-civil messages I was seeing on signs scattered throughout the crowd.

(NOTE: I’ve chosen not to display any of the more offensive signs in this article. However, they can be seen in the PHOTO GALLERY. The gallery link is provided at the END of the article.)

A woman holding a sign at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C.

You’ve been warned: The “Tea” can be harmful to your health!

Unexamined Derision
The Tea Party was a favorite object of derision at the rally — on signs, clothing and in casual conversations that were overheard or in which I was personally engaged. In discussions with liberal or Leftist individuals, I’ve found they typically have very distorted views of the Tea Party. For many of them, their distorted views of the Tea Party movement appear to stem from such politically Left-leaning sources as MSNBC, CNN and even The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Whenever I’ve challenged such individuals to actually visit a Tea Party gathering, they usually bristle — or sometimes appear a bit nauseated! — at the very thought. They’ll typically refuse to budge from their distorted views of the Tea Party, and are usually unwilling to examine their largely baseless presumptions on the Tea Party.

Similarly, I find the aversion of liberals/Leftists to Fox News to be more irrational than fact-based. Their claims against Fox News typically are often generalized and/or are based on hearsay. When probed for specifics, they too often cannot sufficiently back up the charges of bigotry or bias they constantly level against Fox News.

Young girl holds sign about Fox News at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C.

She’s not a fan of Fox News, it’s safe to assume!

Religious faith and traditional values were a close second as objects of derision by the signs exhibited by the rally crowd. (You’ll see numerous such signs in the photo gallery. The gallery link is provided at the END of the article.)

In addition, the so-called benediction for the rally given by the fictional “Father Guido Sarducci” (comedian Don Novello) was a mockery of religious faith and God Himself. Rather than including that farcical “benediction,” I believe it would have been best to have omitted such a pathetic segment from the program.

I will also bring up at this point the controversy surrounding the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, who performed his well-known song, “Peace Train,” at the rally. Decades ago Cat Stevens converted to the religion of Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. Jon Stewart, curiously, introduced the singer simply as “Yusuf,” leaving off his last name. Yusuf Islam claims that his past statements allegedly supporting a fatwa against author Salmon Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses have been taken out of context.

Inexcusable Vulgarities
The “F” word and other vulgarities were proudly displayed on some signs found in the rally crowd. Another particularly vulgar sexual pejorative — “tea**gger” — that’s become a favorite reference to Tea Party people was displayed on numerous signs and clothing. Masturbation and witchcraft were also topics of some signs mocking Tea Party-backed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (Delaware).

(NOTE: I’ve chosen not to display any of the more offensive signs in this article. However, they can be seen in the PHOTO GALLERY. The gallery link is provided at the END of the article.)

Vulgar sign at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C.

During the campaign season, it’s critical that we focus on the nation’s most pressing issues. Apparently, for the Left, masturbation is near the top of the list.

Liberal/Leftist Re-Definitions

Upon reviewing the signs encountered at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, I’ve drawn my own conclusions on the liberal/Leftist re-definition of terms commonly used at the rally:

  • INSANITY is a euphemism for views that are incompatible with progressive liberal/Leftist views.
  • FEAR is the irrational behavior supposedly generated by Fox News, Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. (Yet a more accurate definition of “fear” would be the intellectual dishonesty exercised by liberals and Leftists, in order to sustain their deficient worldview.)
  • ANGER is the defining quality of every so-called “irrational” Tea Party member.
  • HATE speech is typically nothing more than politically incorrect speech (that quite often has a solid basis in fact) or is a long-standing religious or moral tenet that the Left cannot tolerate.
  • REASONABLENESS is the opposite of whatever the Tea Party or Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin advocates.
  • MODERATION is viewed as non-traditional, non-conservative viewpoints — no matter how far to the Left they are.
  • CIVIL DISCOURSE — Pleas for civil discourse by the Left are often used as nothing more than a tactical deflection, in order to avoid substantive Tea Party/conservative issues.
  • EXTREMISM is behavior or beliefs applicable only to individuals on the Right.
  • USING YOUR “INSIDE VOICE” means you should NEVER raise your voice, as that would be “uncivil” — but this rule only applies to Tea Partiers.
  • INTELLECTUAL is a term attributed only to those who reject traditional tenets of faith and who completely embrace such theories as evolution and catastrophic climate change.

Discussing the facts would be nice, wouldn’t it? Instead, the Left seems quite comfortable doing anything but honestly examining the facts and accepting legitimate differences of opinion.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear attendees hold sign about Sarah Palin.

This was just one of many signs featuring Sarah Palin — the woman the Left loves to hate.

Crowd Demographics

I was very surprised to see such a large percentage of whites at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Based on my subjective observations, I believe the percentage was much higher than the 73% figure that Jon Stewart mentioned in his opening remarks. As Stewart also alluded to, a mostly white crowd at any large gathering routinely draws charges of racism from the media and other special interests — or at least that’s what’s routinely alleged of the Tea Party. I find it strange that Stewart said of the rally crowd: “It is the perfect demographic sampling of the American people.”

I believe I saw more blacks at Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally than I saw at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. That’s neither a negative nor a positive statement. I simple bring it up, because the Tea Party is routinely falsely charged with being racist.

Media Double Standard

Having documented several Tea Party rallies, I’ve observed how the mainstream media tend to focus on one or two extreme signs in Tea Party crowds, and they IGNORE all the others. They then use any few questionable signs to paint the picture of extremism on the Tea Party.

So where were the same vigilant media at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear?

  • Did the mainstream media focus on the PROLIFERATION of extreme, profane and vulgar signs at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear?
  • Did the mainstream media point out the overwhelming percentage of whites in the rally crowd and speculate on racism?

Not that I’ve seen.

Don't Poop on Me Sign at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Watch out for falling Tea Party poop!

The Great Irony

In his closing remarks, Jon Stewart said:

This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument….we can have animus and not be enemies.

Even if Stewart did not intend to ridicule or be condescending, clearly many in the crowd were NOT on the same page. The abundance of ridiculing and condescending signs was glaring evidence of that.

Moreover, it’s been my observation that individuals who lean Left politically often have great difficulty NOT ridiculing people of faith or people with opposing ideologies. They find it difficult NOT to be condescending toward those who hold traditional views on such topics as marriage or creationism — or even on constitutionally limited government.

The GREAT IRONY of the satire-rich Stewart/Colbert rally was that some participants and attendees personified the very bigoted characteristics they so proudly detest and allege of their political opponents.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear attendee holds up sign in Washington, D.C.

Christians are regularly portrayed as heartless, narrow-minded bigots by those who hatefully misrepresent or distort their positions and motives.

Websites Displaying Despicable Signs

More signs of debauchery, hate and condescension from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear are displayed on the following pages — on some, quite proudly:

Visit the Photo Gallery

The PHOTO GALLERY contains nearly 300 photos depicting a wide range of scenes from the Rally to Restore Sanity, including people of all ages, wide shots and some zany Halloween costumes. Even if you disagree with the premise of this article, I believe you’ll enjoy the variety of HIGH-QUALITY PHOTOS in the gallery. Follow me from the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, where I began photo coverage, to the National Mall, where I captured images of the huge crowd from various locations.

To view the GALLERY PHOTOS, CLICK to visit the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear photo gallery. Allow yourself approximately 20 minutes to view all of the photos. NOTE: Be aware that the gallery includes photos of signs with VULGAR content.

About Deb Phillips
Deb Phillips is a freelance photographer and writer based in Lewisville, NC (USA). In addition to reviewing Deb's documentary coverage here at, check out her inspirational photo blog at and her personal photo portfolio at Deb Phillips Photography, where Art & Life Converge.


2 Responses to “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear”
  1. Jone Reid says:

    Deb, thanks for going and reporting fair and balanced coverage. It’s very sad that ABC, CBS & NBC have two outlines they use in covering events: a derogatory, condemning one for conservative gatherings, and a positive, cleaned-up view for liberals that’s devoid of garbage signs. The mainstream media continue to wish their ratings would go up. That could happen if they provided unbiased coverage.

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