This was pretty much the last thing I expected to read yesterday when I was browsing the news. I figured he would be around for a while, long enough for me to possibly get more conservative with age and actually want to read his stuff. I haven’t really read anything he wrote, haven’t patronized his websites, and haven’t had the highest opinion of those things that I did happen to read in passing. I definitely didn’t like what he did to Shirley Sherrod. However, people of all political persuasions say he was a devoted husband and father, and I don’t doubt it. Just like all the other vocal, opinionated, antagonistic pundits that dominate political commentary in American media, once he leaves the political media arena he’s pretty much just a normal guy.
It’s far too easy to forget that fact in the American political climate; people on both sides of the spectrum want to paint their political rivals as not just politically flawed, but personally flawed. And not just the pundits; that particular poison has spread far and wide, and I personally have seen too many reasonable and rational people fall into that trap.
In today’s political media, too many are content to go beyond political discussion and do this, personally attacking their opponents; Conservatives are labeled as “Greedy Heartless Racists,” and Liberals are “Godless Communist Traitors.” It’s the same inflammatory tactic that’s been used all throughout history to shore up one’s cause with a minimum of proof and evidence; make one side out to be moral and the other side to be the opposite and you have an easily understandable and attractive paradigm: “Right” vs “Wrong,” “Righteous” vs “Wicked,” “Patriot” vs “Outsider,” etc.
It seems to me that Americans buy into this because, honestly, which way is easier? A: Putting in the work to objectively prove one’s viewpoint and discussing it reasonably with one’s political opponents, or B: Saying one’s political opponents are evil and crazy and have to be stopped, and parroting the loudest voices of one’s “side” to prove the point? I wish A were easier. But since it’s not, we have almost all the most vocal and opinionated figures on both sides of the aisle choosing option B. I get the impression that Breitbart was one of the big players fanning these partisan flames. However, I haven’t read enough of Breitbart’s stuff to really know, and in my opinion his political antics are not the most important thing when discussing his death. Whether loved or hated in the political arena, he was loved by his family and friends, and personally important to them. At the end of the day, he’s a guy who died young and left behind a lot of sad folks, just like most other people dying young will do, and that’s what’s most important to remember.
The sad thing is that this savage political culture is going to keep on going, and his passing will be just more fodder for the political flame wars. What I’ve tried to read of Conservative news coverage has pretty much confirmed this. Liberals apparently can do no right when it comes to his passing, being portrayed as celebrating his passing, only sarcastically memorializing him, or being disrespectful if they even mention anything about the controversies he created during his career. Conservative and Liberal news sources will appropriate his death for any number of agendas, and any mention of the kind of man he was outside of political media will quickly fade into the background.
So RIP Andrew Breitbart, my heart goes out to your friends and loved ones. While some are celebrating, and some are already attributing your passing to a Liberal conspiracy, the rest of us are just shaking our heads… The monster that is American political media, a monster you probably helped to create and did nothing to hinder, is already feeding on your bones, quicker and more thoroughly than any Vulture could.