Sunday, 19 September 2010

A rally to restore sanity

I am a big fan of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Channel 4 and his ‘big announcement’ had me in stitches. Stewart is planning a 'Rally to Restore Sanity’ in Washington on October 30th in response to the increasingly bellicose tone of politics in the US. He suggests rally slogans such as “I Disagree With You, But I’m Pretty Sure You’re Not Hitler,” and “Take It Down a Notch, America”!

Stewart is a comedian but he is really making a serious point about growing rightwing extremism in the US. Historian Simon Schama makes the same point in this video, arguing that Islamaphobia is worse now in the US than after 9/11. Against a background of growing unemployment and economic recession, he describes large sections of America as being in a state of ‘neurotic defensiveness’ about being under attack, whether by Muslims or illegal immigrants. One expression of this is the 20% or so of the population that believe 'President Obama is a Muslim and a Trojan horse for a Stalinist Soviet Union being planted in Idaho’! Funny as this sounds on the surface, the reality of what is bubbling underneath is anything but. If I was in the US, I know where I would be heading at the end of next month.