An Open Letter to Jon Stewart on his call for a “Rally for Sanity”

By Dennis Loo 

Dear Jon:
Have you lost your mind?
While the contemporary American right-wing’s unfettered-by-facts screeds are as extreme as their policies, the left (and others such as Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba)[1] calling out Bush as a war criminal are as valid as saying that the sun came up this morning.
Have you forgotten Bush and Cheney’s proud admissions that they authorized waterboarding (i.e., torturing) detainees? Do you recall Cheney calling it repeatedly “a no-brainer?” Do you not remember the Downing Street Memos that revealed that Bush and Blair were consciously fabricating grounds to attack Iraq and that their WMD claim they knew to be false? Did you not know that even if Iraq had had WMD that attacking a country that has not first attacked you is the supreme war crime under international law?
Equating anti-war activists, such as Code Pink’s political actions illustrating these wars’ criminality by putting fake blood on their hands, with those who ludicrously claim that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim socialist/communist/Nazi, and who don’t hesitate to call blacks ”niggers” and women bitches and worse, doesn’t make you appear to be a proponent of the sensible middle. It makes you look like someone who can’t tell the difference between truth and falsehood and between those who propagate war crimes and bigotry and those who seek to expose and stop those war crimes and bigotry.
Your call for a 10-30-10 rally in Washington to “Take It Down a Notch for America” is based on the notion that what is wrong with politics today is the tone. Glenn Greenwald points out that acrimonious debate in American politics goes back to as early as the 1700s and that torture-advocating extremists like Bill Kristol and John Yoo are very polite. While the right-wing’s tone overall is reprehensible and deliberately designed to foreclose rational thought and investigation, the main problem with them isn’t their tone, it’s the content of their arguments and the ends that they seek: endless wars of aggression, torture, and suspension of all civil liberties, establishing a theocracy, and blind American xenophobia perpetuated by indefinite and cultivated fear of the “Other.”
When you indiscriminately tar both sides in this fight as extremists you are opposing those who are actually opposing what you yourself oppose. You are also providing ammunition for the right-wing to claim that their despicable lies and 24/7 rants are a reaction to the same emanating from the left and that they are only doing it because “the other side is doing it.” Is this what you want to do?
The left does not own Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Ask yourself, who does? Who gets to put out their distortions, outright lies, cover-ups, and self-serving interpretive framing and make literally millions of people take it all as gospel?
As long as the right-wing dominates the airwaves, print, and bureaucracy, and gets its way, whether Democrats or Republicans are in office, any talk of an alleged middle-ground acts as a cover for the really ugly and malicious policies and agendas being implemented as we speak.
Comedians who skewer the rich and powerful, the corrupt and maleficent are a treasure to the people because they use the power of humor and point out the truth through contradiction, exposing the blatant hypocrisy of those who seek to deceive and whose positions and privileges are protected through their lies. Those comedians who skewer those who seek to right injustice and who speak truth to power, on the other hand, act on behalf of the rich, powerful, smug and self-serving. Which kind of comedian are you?
The so-called middle ground you seek to promote is fast disappearing while those with malicious purpose gain ground relentlessly. Those who are in this middle ground because they have “s*** to do,” as you say, need to recognize the real “s***” that’s been going on and get the hell out of the agnostic middle and join those who are fighting against these atrocities.
Which ground are you on Jon? Which kind of comedian are you?

Writing the forward to a Physicians for Human Rights study of 11 former detainees who were apparently tortured by US military personnel and later released, Army Maj. General Antonio Taguba (Ret.) writes that "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
Taguba, who led the Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib scandal, says that the report from the doctors' human rights group based in Cambridge, Mass., "tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors."


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.