More Like Insanity: Another Perspective

More Like Insanity

By Fatemah Meghji

Earlier this year, I stood for hours in the rain on the streets of New York to attend a filming of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And I had a good time- I honestly enjoy it when Jon rips apart Fox News, CNN, and the joke of a media that exists. I also had the opportunity to ask Jon a question, and so, I asked him if his political commentary had a point in the larger scheme of things as he exposed the hypocrisies of the media and in a way, brought the reality of some situations to the forefront (for example, his clip on Operation Cast Lead). His response was that he was not trying to pursue any agenda or even portray the real news, that it was just humor meant to expose every absurdity, and that if the Daily Show took a stance, they would become the very demagogues they seek to mock. In fact, he said, “There is no point. That’s the point.” I was slightly disappointed in his response, but thought to myself that if he did have a point in what he did, he wasn’t going to tell the whole world about it- that would defeat the purpose if his agenda was noble in any way.

After this weekend though, I have to say that I honestly believe that you meant what you said, Jon, and I apologize for doubting you. And I’m positive that there is no point meant in your comedy nor do you intend to inspire anybody to stand up for real change in a disintegrating society. At the so-called Rally to Restore Sanity, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, you proved that the rally (if it can even be called a rally since rallies usually have a point) should have been called the Rally to Restore Ignorance and Apathy.

Ever since you told me you had no point, I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to your show and the remarks that you make- which undeniably have to be based in something that you believe. You may hate to hear this, but it’s a bunch of typical liberal Democrat jargon. Watching the two episodes prior to the rally, this became much clearer to me. For someone who had no trouble interrupting Anna Baltzer every two seconds as she intellectually exposed the Israeli occupation, you seemed unable to speak as you continuously stuttered in your interview with Barack Obama- which I may add, answered nothing of substance. In fact, most of it was Obama campaigning for himself- priding himself on his twisted interpretations of the bills that have been passed, and justifying the failures of the American government. Obama also used your call to sanity against you, telling you to be reasonable and realistic in your demands about him being too ‘timid’. You have criticized the hypocrisy of many bills, the occupation of Iraq and Obama’s foreign policy on your show- but where was there any mention of that when you had the President sitting right across you?

On Thursday night’s show, I saw that a Muslim was chosen to go in The Daily Show van to accompany Jason Jones and John Oliver to the rally. But again, like a typical liberal, you give the Muslims that you like, a chance to speak. And I’m sure that your intentions are somehow based in a genuine want for prejudice against Muslims to stop, but, quite frankly, I don’t appreciate the image that you give of Muslims. They’re not the Muslims that exist at large, but the Muslims that you want to exist. And I know that as a typical liberal, you’re trying to present this image of the non-scary, ‘moderate’ Muslims, the ‘normal’ ones who mean no harm and love America. As the Muslim saluted the monument, and confessed his love for America’s ‘greatness’,  I couldn’t help but think of all the Muslims that you portray as ‘good’ on your show. They’re all patriotic and in love with America, and in agreement with so-called American values, and most importantly, silent when it comes to American crimes in Muslim countries.  Is this really an accurate perception of Muslims? Is there really something wrong with Muslims who criticize America and quite frankly don’t have a small degree of patriotism in them? When you start accepting and respecting those Muslims who dissent, as equally legitimate and logical, I might begin to regain some respect for you. You’re sort of playing into the whole game that any Muslim with a political opinion against America does not deserve to be heard. You can rally for the ‘liberal’ Muslims all you want, defend their rights to build mosques, and glamourize the “moderate” Muslims  that are in love with America and co-operate with the government in their facade of a war on terror, but know that there are rational Muslims and humans out there. Sane ones- the millions of Muslims and other people worldwide who wouldn’t dare wear the American flag as an outfit. You said accurately that “The inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more” and you were right. But more importantly, the inability to accept the fact that most people and Muslims are not in love with America and at the same time are not terrorists or crazy also makes you less safe, not more. It’s not crazy for people to call George Bush a war criminal, and it’s not crazy for people to seriously hate Obama, it’s not crazy for people to hate Israel, and it’s not crazy for most of the people in the world to hate America for its foreign policy. You might have the ability to have “animus and not be enemies”, but most people hate war criminals and rogue states, and have them as their enemies.

As Medea Benjamin rightfully stated on Huffington Post- Sane people protest insane wars.  But your skewed presentation of the problems of American society and the world at large were either naively simplistic or strategically stupid for an apathetic audience. Do you really think that ‘talking’ to each other is going to fix every problem? You compared co-operation on a worldwide scale to the ability to successfully merge traffic. Seriously? That’s your attempt at a profound metaphor for the world’s problems? That’s what is going to make poverty and corruption disappear, and war-mongerers stop mongering? Well, try it, and we’ll watch you epically fail. As Malcolm X wisely said many years ago: “Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”

Your quote of the night was “If you amplify everything, you hear nothing.”

You’re right, Jon. But the problem is, nobody is amplifying anything, nor are they saying anything. In fact, if this world had given the “due” anger in regards to injustices of today’s world, it would be infinitely louder than we have already heard. Apparently though, this is already too loud for you? When Pakistanis are continuously killed by American drones, they don’t really hear much. Neither do the million dead Iraqis and the thousands of dead Afghans. But let’s not get too loud or too angry about that. That might disturb our comfortable lives, and the music to the Peace Train. There’s no such thing as being too loud or too amplified when it comes to speaking out against injustice.

We can pretend that everything is okay. That it’s ‘hard times not end times’.  That “we work hard every damn day” and that Americans don’t represent what the news shows them. We’ll fool ourselves into thinking that we’re already doing enough to help society by simply doing nothing and being us. And we will pretend, because in our apathetic society, when we are too busy thinking about what kind of car we’re going to buy (you exemplified our obsession with cars very well), people will continue to die and be oppressed. Afghans, Iraqis, and Pakistanis will continue to die. Children like Omar Khadr will be incarcerated. Imams like Luqman Abdallah will continue to be assassinated by the FBI. Muslims and others who have a hard stance and political opinion (note: not terrorists) will be demonized- both by you and society at large. Capitalism will suck the life out of many more countries, the poor classes of America will continue to become poorer, and the richer become richer. And your comedy will continue to make people laugh at the absurdities of the world… and then do absolutely nothing about it. They’ll go to your rally, feel good about themselves as you pat them on the back for “working hard” (it’s tiring to engage in this much consumerism), and American society will be stuck in the hole that it has dug for itself. You spoke of how Americans carry their “values” with them every single day. What do these values mean when no action accompanies them? The irony in your rally was that people aren’t too loud… they’re not loud enough. Apparently, not loud enough is too loud for America.

So Jon, after your epic failure of an attempt to be profound, I found a speech for those who actually care about the situation of the world and want the inspiration to make real changes, for those who do have families and lives and are too busy to go to rallies- but nevertheless, make the time to do so.  I’m honestly disappointed that more people can take the time and effort to revel in their apathy and go to your rally and watch your show as opposed to taking an active stance against the oppression that their own government perpetrates. It’s time for action, and I close with the great Malcolm X, someone sane, not by your standards, but mine.

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31

10 2010

22 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. Shama #
    1

    Seriously???Whom are we talking about?A comedian..who never claimed himself to be anything more than that.
    I used to watch Jon stewart regularly, but due to their choice of language I am not comfortable watching them anymore.
    Is he the role model? Ofcourse not!But yes I do prefer him than the bunch of people who either sit around slashing muslims left and right or the ones who take no stance whatsoever.

    [Reply]

  2. Yahya Naqvi #
    2

    Sister, this article stems from disappointment. I had no problem with Stewart and Colbert’s rally, because I don’t have high expectations of them.

    Did you for a second think that Jon ever had Malcolm X, or MLK type potential? I hope not. I’m really surprised that you thought his comedy had some sort of hidden agenda, which was aimed at taking society to higher moral ground.

    Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert always made their lack of political ambitions very clear. Your article is only valid if Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert somehow deceived us. They did not. They did not promise anything, because they do not want people thinking of them as Mahatma Gandhi, or Rosa Parks. Your fault is the rant of a misguided mind.

    I find it quite humorous how there are disgruntled fans out there like you. It’s funny, because you expected revolutionary results from stand up comedians.

    People are being laid off left and right. The economy is in a downward spiral. This rally was to cheer up the distressed people of an economy in recession. This rally was never supposed to be a catalyst of socio-political change LOLL! Jon Stewart ignored people trying to use the rally as a platform for political statements, because that was not his end goal.

    The “rally” was a 4 hour concert/stand up comedy session. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Does anyone ever walk into a concert thinking, “this will end the war in Afghanistan”? Does anyone walk into a stand up comedy show thinking “this will end hyper-inflation”? No. If somebody does, they don’t understand where change comes from.

    This article didn’t make sense to me, because I don’t walk into concerts, or stand up comedy shows expecting intense government reform. You do realize Jon Stewart’s show is on prime-time COMEDY central, right?

    This article didn’t make sense to me, because I don’t walk into concerts, or stand up comedy shows expecting intense government reform. You do realize Jon Stewart’s show is on prime-time COMEDY central, right?

    [Reply]

    Yahya Naqvi Reply:

    Typo:
    Your fault here is that you’re a misguided fan*

    Also, I pasted the last part twice.

    [Reply]

  3. H 314 #
    3

    I agree with Hafiz

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  4. I.S. #
    4

    At least for the second, as even the story headline notes:

    tongue-in-cheek

    adjective
    1. cleverly amusing in tone; “a bantering tone”; “facetious remarks”; “tongue-in-cheek advice” [syn: bantering]

    adverb
    1. in a bantering fashion; “he spoke to her banteringly” [syn: banteringly]
    2. not seriously; “I meant it facetiously” [syn: facetiously]

    [Reply]

  5. Salman #
    5

    This post is validated by some of the rater idiotic and degrading signs some Muslims were carrying at this:

    http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/v/4020

    “Proud to be a marine & Muslim?”
    “Kiss Me, I’m Muslim”

    [Reply]

  6. Chief #
    6

    The right hates. The liberals laugh. And the country is taken hostage.

    [Reply]

  7. Hafiz #
    8

    I’m sorry if my comment spurred anything malicious towards Sr. Fatemah. I was simply puzzled why an anonymous article would be written in the first person. It was not meant as an insult.

    That being said, if you were looking for political gravitas from Jon Stewart and Stephen that agrees with the revolutionary Shi’a (stress: this is meant as a compliment, not insult) view of the world, you haven’t watched much of Stewart or Colbert. I watched the Rally for Sanity and expected to see humor, particularly towards the mainstream media and exaggerated political talking points.

    That’s what I got, and I got to see 200,000+ people cheering whenever a Muslim celebrity came to the stage or Islam was mentioned. Yes, Stewart and Colbert are mainstream comedians. They are there to make people laugh. But they are the most fair media personalities towards Islam and Muslims today, as low of a standard as that is. One can be a fan of them without agreeing with many of their views and one can support them without glorifying them. We shouldn’t think of each other as being less of a Muslim or Shi’a for doing so.

    You mentioned a littany of problems in the second to last paragraph. Are they all Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s fault? Do you even think Stewart and Colbert are even aware of them? Do you really think they contribute to the problem by encouraging people to laugh? Ouch, that laughter and satire really convinces people to not care.

    If you want to see some substantial criticism of American policy, or a detailed effort to mobilize people to take action, start at home. The biggest way to end ‘slacktivism’ is to get you, your family and your friends out there doing something. It’s going to take a lot more than a small protest rally or campus event.

    I realize you’re Canadian, but 49% of Americans have a negative view of Islam and Muslims. Perhaps we should start with the basics. Let’s stop being afraid of being part-time Muslims and practice our religion openly. Let’s stop living in our bubble and promote ourselves and our religion. We can build on that and attract more people to fight injustice and oppression.

    The problems we have aren’t because of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. The problems are because of our inaction.

    [Reply]

  8. Henna #
    9

    I think this was an excellent piece. I am a fan of the comedy central, and do appreciate some positive light being shed on Muslims, simply because it is all we have for now. However, the author is correct. Don’t settle for just that.

    [Reply]

  9. I.S. #
    10

    Oh, and Mohammad, fair enough. Neither were you.

    [Reply]

  10. I.S. #
    11

    Despite Saheb’s assumptions, Jon Stewart and Colbert aren’t particularly “near and dear” to me. Nor did I write anything pro or con about the criticisms expressed in the editorial which do represent “the issues” in a particular point of view. The Economist is an interesting example; I’m fairly certain you can find a list of their editorial staff who produce the articles in the magazine.

    Ms. Meghji, kudos for expressing your views in your piece. In hindsight, which is always 20/20, my comment should have been worded differently.

    [Reply]

  11. Fatemah #
    12

    For those interested, here’s another article that I thought articulated the issues very well. http://wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/stew-n01.shtml

    Thanks for the feedback (both negative and positive) to the article :)

    With prayers of peace,
    Fatemah

    [Reply]

  12. Wajahat #
    13

    Salam. I believe the point of the rally and the shows are pretty clear, which is to point out the sensationalism in the media and poke fun at it. This was an interesting commentary, but maybe such in depth pieces should be reserved for actual political events.

    [Reply]

  13. 14

    Regardless if the post is anonymous or not this does not change the fact that the post properly expresses the issues with the rally and Mr. Stewart. The Economist is one of the most widely read and respected news sources yet if you notice none of their articles are credited to the specific authors. The message is what is important not who pens it.

    Unfortunately some of the comments in this post show the various commenters inability to be critical of something that is near and dear to them when honest criticism is necessary. Kudos to Ms. Meghji! If you want to stay anonymous feel free to. You have my support so long as the message remains on point!

    [Reply]

  14. Nabeela #
    15

    Which beloved American personality will this blog pillory next? Dr. Seuss or Sponge Bob Squarepants?

    [Reply]

  15. M.Z #
    16

    In a time when so many Muslims are praising Jon Stewart for being one of the few figures in Western media to give a “fair” representation of Islam, I really commend the sister who wrote this. This type of analysis shows critical thinking and a sincere concern for justice. She makes a strong argument that Muslims really need to consider before going around and glorifying figures like Jon Stewart.

    [Reply]

  16. Fatemah #
    17

    My name is Fatemah Meghji- and no, I’m not ashamed of what I wrote, nor am I going to shy away from putting my name on it. The only reason I didn’t initially include my name was because (a) I really don’t have a reputation in terms of writing so my name would mean nothing and (b) I wanted those who know me personally to take what this article said as it was, not as something inherently associated with me. No other reason. No shame or fear in anything that I wrote. I also didn’t expect that many people to read this or comment on it- let alone care who wrote it. But I’m glad you care so much about about who wrote it- don’t let that take away from anything that was said. Sometimes, we fixate ourselves a little too much on who said it as opposed to what was said.
    With prayers of peace,
    Fatemah Meghji

    [Reply]

  17. Mohammad #
    18

    Apparently you weren’t “courageous” enough to put your name on your “courageous” comments. Just maybe there are specific reasons why the author chose to be anonymous…

    [Reply]

  18. I.S. #
    19

    Apparently the author wasn’t courageous enough to put his or her name on this piece. If they believe this, they should have been.

    [Reply]

  19. Hafiz #
    20

    Who wrote this post? It seems a bit odd to have an anonymous poster writing in the first person. I’ve enjoyed this blog, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen an anonymous post here before. It seems less courageous, considering the point of the article, for someone to keep their identity hidden.

    [Reply]

  20. 21

    If you’re looking for serious political commentary I’d suggest Comedy Central is likely to disappoint. The hint’s in the title.

    [Reply]



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