Jon Stewart, Are You Really That Sane?

Jon Stewart, less than one month ago, I marched in the Socialist Contingent at the October 2 March for Jobs and Justice. (Yes, I am one of those Marxists “undermining the Constitution,” but we’ll get to that in a minute.) We demanded good jobs for all and an end to racism, but in the end, the entire march—liberal and radical elements included—got almost no media coverage, even though we were demanding things that would seem to be incredibly “sane” policy goals for any government with real interest in promoting “national security.”

After all, poverty—which is the complete absence of all human rights—at home and around the world, undermines any chance we have at achieving real security. Poverty—and the neoliberal policies used to perpetuate it—are the real roots of “terrorism” and working class “insanity.” You tell us that “we live in hard times, not end times,” but to working people who are under constant attack from Republicans and Democrats, hard times are end times.

Jon Stewart, are you seriously suggesting that humans subjected to these conditions in order to expand corporate profits and imperial power structures don’t have the right to voice or demonstrate their opposition to these policies and practices—and loudly if necessary?

Jon Stewart, you often offer a left wing critique of American policy and political culture—something I look forward to after along day of living in a place still littered with Confederate flags. To say I was disappointed in your rally and your closing speech would be, to say the least, an understatement.

In fact, I was sickened at drastic swing to the right:

“There are terrorists and racists and Stalinist and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and 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.”

Well, Jon: the Tea Party is racist and Juan Williams is a bigot. When the Tea Party scapegoats Latino immigrants, they are being racist. Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate running for Senate in Nevada, tried to win the Latino vote by suggesting that many Latinos “looked Asian”—Asian of course, being the almost-good-enough-to-be-white-since-we’re-not-interring-the-Japanese-anymore model minority. In other words, something to which every person of color should aspire.

Juan Williams is also a bigot, which Merriam-Webster defines as “a person intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions or prejudices, especially one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.” Williams, by stating that people in “Muslim garb” make him feel nervous, equated “Muslim” with “terrorist.” By “admitting his nervousness,” Williams legitimized state racism on national television, so how on earth do you separate his actions from bigotry?

This turn of affairs was worse than I could have imagined. I knew your rally would be a run to center, but I didn’t know you were going to go diving for a warmonger’s foul ball in right field.

Your attack on the left is old and tired. Perhaps we Marxists are “undermining the Constitution.” I’m all for it. It’s not a holy document. It’s a racist treatise that divides American society into the have and have-nots. Even the rights we are granted are politically moderated. Attacking the injustices embedded in the Constitution is not an attack on the American people; it is an attack on the ruling class.

I refuse to buy into the American liberal notion of bipartisanship: that somehow “reaching across the aisle” is somehow better for everyone and is the only avenue to “change.” Call me insane if you will, but the right wing is my enemy. I have no interest in working with them, or compromising away my rights for war funding. The Democrats are not even the other side of the same coin. If the Republicans are the raised edges that cut into the skin of the working class, the Democrats are the pits that give the edges definition. It is not in my interest to murder my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, to continue the occupation of their country in order to pass the DREAM Act or to repeal DADT. That is an unacceptable compromise. If that is sanity, then sanity is inadequate and unacceptable.

By claiming that “the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land, it’s just New Jersey,” you are telling the people to settle for health care “reform” that increased insurance profits but neglected to establish access to health care across the board. We cannot all rest in your quiet sphere of middle class liberalism—some of us must do more than casually hope for things to get better. Our lives depend on it. We aren’t “amplifying” our voices just to add to the corporate media din. We have to scream so loudly because the ruling class tries so hard to ignore, works so vigorously to evade our power and dismiss our demands.

Your rally was a mockery of the process of protest; it was intended to be, but it was clear in the lead-up to the event that attendees wanted the event to be steeped in progressive politics. What happened to the Jon Stewart who presented clear analysis on the imperial motives that might be behind the “discovery” of trillions of dollars in mineral resources? Perhaps those people now feel disillusioned, but we will not let you deter us from our fight for real progressive reform and for revolutionary change.

We will hold you accountable for your rightward swing. Taking turns driving through a tunnel is not anywhere close to the dynamic of two capitalist parties running a country. You know that. You know these parties aren’t moving forward together towards “the light.” Instead, they’re holding us in the tunnel. They’re robbing, raping, and murdering us in that tunnel without any sense of conscience and we’re going to fight back. You better believe it.

TRISH KAHLE blogs at “I Still Can’t Believe We Have to Protest This Shit.


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