Stephen Colbert talks fear with student journalists

By R.P. Hitt

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Stephen Colbert is blurring the lines between fake pundit and national icon with his recent announcement that he will be holding a “March to Keep Fear Alive” Oct. 30 on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

He hopes his march will be a “counter rally,” to Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” set to take place in Washington on the same day.

Colbert elaborated on the motivations behind his march and what he truly fears in a teleconference last Friday, taking questions from student journalists from across the nation, including the University of Massachusetts, Columbia, Yale and Rutgers.

Colbert began the teleconference at 3:37 p.m., telling the mediator, a representative of Comedy Central, that he was, “ready to rock and roll.”

The first question posed questioned why Americans should attend Colbert’s rally over Stewart’s.

“I don’t think it’s easy to get exited about sanity,” quipped Colbert, claiming that the theme of his rally, fear, is much easier to get people riled up about.

Glenn Beck held a rally in Washington D.C. called, “Restoring Honor,” in August. A student journalist pointed out similarities in the themes of Beck’s rally and Colbert’s and asked Colbert if he saw any parallels.

“Glenn Beck’s [rally] I believe was a religious festival,” said Colbert, who admitted he would not be reading passages from the Bible, as Beck did at his rally. Colbert claimed that Beck’s idea of God was an angrier power, while his own understanding of God is a more soothing and calming one.

Colbert stated his main motivation for holding his march is to spite Jon Stewart, and said he sees no good coming from a rational, grounded American public.

“Rationality will get you the atomic bomb,” said Colbert, who also claimed fear was the reason why the United States and Soviet Union didn’t annihilate each other during the Cold War.

Colbert claimed the “fight or flight” response is the reason why the human race has survived for 200,000 years.

“People who were afraid of snakes survived,” said Colbert, who furthered that those who didn’t have the same fear didn’t last long enough to make babies.

A student journalist from Georgetown University in Washington asked a question regarding the importance of the march relative to the midterm elections, which will take place just four days later. Before answering the student’s question, Colbert jokingly took a minute to tell the student journalist he used to have a girlfriend that went to Georgetown.

“She broke my heart,” Colbert said.

“I don’t care about elections,” he added. “I am just there to make sure people do not think rationally about who they vote for.”

When asked about his biggest fear, Colbert gave an interesting response.

“Bears, gay immigrant bears; is that possible?” said Colbert, “I guess Canadian bears.”

“[Stewart’s] people might get dangerously reasonable,” said Colbert, describing his fears about the attendees of the “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

If Jon Stewart manages to bring more people to his rally, Colbert said he plans to “curl up in the fetal position.”

Despite his stated opposition to Stewart’s sanity-restoration efforts, Colbert cracked when a student journalist asked him why the two rallies should not be combined into one broader march.

“OK, you’ve convinced me,” said Colbert, seemingly agreeing to combine the two rallies.

A student journalist from Boston University asked what Colbert expected from his march.

“I can only hope it defines a generation,” said Colbert, “I’d be OK with that.” Colbert also stated that he wants Jon Stewart to admit that he is terrified as a result of the rally.

Colbert has told people to dress up as their biggest fear for their rally. During the teleconference, Colbert recommended attendees wear the scariest costumes they can find, which he says would be a mosque or Stewart.

Throughout the teleconference, Colbert touted the website donorschoose.org, where he hopes attendees will go to donate to schools in need. Colbert is on the board of donorschoose.org, which he used as a tenet of his quasi-serious 2008 presidential bid. Colbert said he could not legally take donations, so people who wanted to donate to his campaign could instead donate to schools on donorschoose.org.

The Collegian asked Colbert to respond to conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly’s mock threat during a recent appearance on Stewart’s “Daily Show” to launch a predator drone strike against him.

“That’s terrifying,” said Colbert. “It’s good; clearly he is on the side of fear.”

When asked what people should do for after-parities following the rally, Colbert told the reporters there should, naturally, be fear parties.

And the next day parents should bring their kids out to, “spread fear door-to-door.”

Another student journalist asked what college students should be afraid of.

“Graduating should be the biggest fear of college students,” said Colbert, referencing the bleak job market for graduating seniors. “Students should stretch those credits out.”

When asked whether he would be inviting the Westboro Baptist Church to the fear rally, Colbert clarified what the march is about.

“[My rally is] no place for hate,” said Colbert.

But he did expect attendees to become angry.

“Fear is the horse that anger rides,” said Colbert.

Colbert also floated the possibility that he would hold another fear rally in 2012, as well as intimating that there is a possibility he could mount another presidential bid.

Colbert did not give any hint about the special guests that will be attending his rally on Oct. 30.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at [email protected]