- - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Satirizing Beck

“In an obvious poke at the stage-managed sanctimony of [Glenn] Beck’s ‘Rally to restore America’ [last] month, [Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert will hold dueling rallies on the National Mall on [October 30] — just three days before the US congressional midterm elections.

“During his Daily Show appearance on Thursday, Stewart announced his plans for a ‘million moderate march,’ saying: ‘Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement.’

“Not to be outdone, Colbert on his show announced a ‘March to keep fear alive.’ In his persona as a parody of a rightwing talkshow host and foil to Stewart, Colbert explained: ‘America, the greatest country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our freedom and liberty. … They want to replace our fear with reason. But never forget ‘reason’ is just one letter away from ‘treason.’ …

“Stewart’s rally will have firm rules banning portraits adorned with Adolf Hitler-style moustaches, unless on an actual photograph of Hitler or Charlie Chaplin. ‘You may be asking yourself, but am I the right person to go to this rally?’ Stewart said on his show. ‘The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question, as opposed to just jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of burnable holy books, strapping on a diaper and pointing your car towards DC — that means I think you just might be right for it.’

Colbert, meanwhile, advised ‘freedom-loving patriots’ to bring five extra pairs of underwear to challenge Stewart’s ‘dark, optimistic forces,’ saying the nation can’t afford a rally to restore sanity in the midst of a recession.

“Assuming the rallies go ahead — the permit has yet to be finally approved — the real question is whether it is possible to satirize Glenn Beck, a man who once spent half an hour on television explaining the hidden ‘communist’ conspiracy behind the design of Rockefeller Plaza in New York.”

Richard Adams, writing on “Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ape Glenn Beck with ‘Rally to restore sanity’,” on the Guardian’s blog Sept. 18

Mixed messages

“Here’s a fact you’re not likely to see on tonight’s evening news broadcasts: According to a recent poll, Arabs living abroad are more likely to be opposed to the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ than the American media are.

“According to a recent survey by the Arabic online news service Elaph, 58 percent of Arabs think the construction should be moved elsewhere. And according to a Media Research Center study released last week, 55 percent of network news coverage of the debate has come down on the pro-Mosque side.”

“That study also found that on the question of whether opposition to the mosque demonstrated a widely held ‘Islamophobia’ among Americans, 93 percent of network news sound bites answered in the affirmative. In contrast, when asked whether the United States is a ‘tolerant’ or ‘bigoted’ society, 63 percent of Elaph respondents chose the former.”

Lachlan Markay, “Survey Shows Arabs More Opposed to GZ Mosque than American Media”, Newsbusters.com, Sept. 20

Hitchens on the afterlife

“Christopher Hitchens … took to the stage at Cooper Union last night to argue against the existence of an afterlife, only to have his adversary, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, tell him he was destined for eternal happiness — because of his support for the war in Iraq, ‘because of his stand against Halabja’ (where Saddam gassed 5,000 Kurds). …

“In an effort to mix things up a bit, Hitchens said the afterlife was ‘a verdict against which there is no appeal,’ and called the Orthodox Boteach a ‘Jewish secularist,’ and Pope Benedict an ‘overdressed little ponce.’ As an example of what draws people to religion, Hitchens cited Louis Farrakhan’s exhortation at Madison Square Garden in the mid-1980s: ‘Remember, Jews, when God puts you in the ovens, it’s forever.’ …

“Shmuley[‘s] … only real salvo came when he called on Hitchens to account for the crimes of Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. ‘Secular atheism,’ the rabbi said, ‘has killed more people than all religions combined.’

“This provoked the only bearish swipe of the night, as Hitchens pointed to the Nazis’s claim that their ‘work on the Jews was done on the word of god. The Nazi soldiers had it inscribed on their belt buckles: Gott Mit Uns. With God on our side.’ …

“But Hitchens became furry himself when asked by the moderator Lisa Oz if he believed in the soul. ‘It’s like reducing love to sex,’ he said. ‘Not that we haven’t all tried. All I can say is that it is the phenomenon we can’t quite see, but you can’t do without it.’”

Walter Owen, writing on “Christopher Hitchens Still Doesn’t Believe in the Afterlife,” on vanityfair.com Sept. 17

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