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There may have been lots of lucid thinking going on at Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity over the weekend, but his bizarre choice to compare the American citizenry to a bunch of cars stuck in traffic was not an example.

Stewart was making the point that Americans have identities separate from their political affiliations when he gestured to a video showing the congested entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan.

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“This is where we are! This is who we are, these cars!” he shouted. He went on to point out that drivers squeeze into the tunnel by making “concession after concession — you go and then I’ll go, you go and then I’ll go.”

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Really, Jon? You’re holding up the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel as a model for civil behavior and compromise? (It was especially ironic considering the political maneuvers that recently killed a commuter rail tunnel designed to relieve the traffic congestion between New York and New Jersey.)

I guess it would have been just silly to suggest that people might best be able to see each other as human beings when they’re walking around and able to see each other’s faces and all.

Stewart did succeed in making a point that he probably didn’t intend: We’ve gotten to a place in our car-crazy society where we’re more likely to be able to tolerate each other, to acknowledge each other’s right to exist, when we’re separated by shells made out of metal and glass.

He didn’t seem to consider the possibility that those shells might quite literally be helping to drive us apart.

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