Friday, April 5, 2013

I Smite Thee, in the Name of Andrew!

We miss you, happy warrior.

Since then, there have been endless discussions about how best to honor his memory, pondering over whether anyone could possibly fill his shoes.

As I look back over the past year, I'm sad to admit that I think we as a conservative movement are doing a very poor job of carrying on Andrew's legacy.

Now, I don't claim to speak for Andrew. I never worked for him and I certainly wasn't one of his inner circle. But I was privileged to get to know him during the last year of his life. One of my all-time favorite interviews ever was the one with him about his book, Righteous Indignation, and I spent time with him at CPAC Florida and CPAC 2012, and saw him speak at countless other blogger conferences and conservative gatherings. I think it's fair to say I was able to observe a lot about what made the man tick. I admired him greatly and considered him a friend, as did so many others who describe him in terms very similar to what I'm writing here in this post.

One of the best qualities about Andrew was that he was exuberantly, enthusiastically, almost overwhelmingly, encouraging. Thinking about blogging? Great! He'd tell you to just start writing, and often invite you to submit story ideas to his websites as well. Have a story you want to investigate? Andrew would tell you to just go for it, and probably introduce you to someone who could help you. Remember his constant reminders that all we needed was a smartphone and we were all investigative reporters? Anyone who heard him speak at any of the conferences noticed he was so talented at not just getting the crowd fired up, but fired up to go do something, specifically to do something that expanded the reach of the conservative message.

Andrew Breitbart was a one-man cheerleading team for the entire conservative movement. He was a walking, talking idea factory, going a million miles a minute, wanting everyone to write, organize, knock on doors, launch investigations, research history and legislation, even run for office, just go, go, go. Hearing that someone had decided to get involved - in whatever way they could - always brought a grin to his face.

My point that I'm trying to make is that Andrew was inclusive, not exclusive. The more people active in the conservative movement, the more people writing, and showing up, and making noise, and the more places and venues they were, the better. Lots of voices in lots of places doing lots of things. 

Now, Andrew wasn't some benign, passive character. He viewed a significant part of the mainstream media as failing America, being negligent in their duty to tell the truth and ignoring valid issues that contradicted their political views, and he didn't pull punches when pointing that out. He also didn't shy away from fighting the battle on the enemy's turf, happily going on Bill Maher's show and giving interviews to those who were openly hostile to him.

The important thing to remember, however, is that his fight was directed at the left, the mainstream media, and those who were being dishonest. The whole idea behind the hashtag "#WAR" originated with the trailer for the Hating Breitbart movie, where he railed against those who would use political correctness as a weapon to shame people  who disagreed with their views into silence. "Truth isn't mean, it's the truth," he famously said, and he relentlessly fought for that principle.

But what do we have today?  
  • People freaking out when conservative bloggers write for non-conservative websites;
  • Bloggers getting attacked in tweets that use the #WAR hashtag, not because the blogger didn't tell the truth, but because the attacker wasn't comfortable with the truth the blogger was telling;
  • Blogger parties where the organizers brag about the "exclusivity" of the event and seem to take joy in denying access;
  • People not content to just battle it out on Twitter, or in dueling blog posts, but actually trying to interfere with people's personal and professional reputations;
  • Self-righteous decrees over what websites are "important" or "worth reading" or "acceptable" for conservatives to admit liking;
  • Activists claiming that their chosen candidate or cause represents the "true" conservative grassroots, and all others are automatically impostors and frauds;
  • People responding to criticism by screeching that the critic is trying to "undermine the entire movement," or similar nonsense; and
  • Anyone who asks questions before blindingly devoting their time and money to the latest conservative cause du jour is accused of being a RINO, an establishment hack, or worse.
These things are being done by people who have Andrew in their profile pictures, who are supposed to be carrying on the Breitbart legacy, who are using Andrew's favorite hashtags in their attacks, who cite Andrew as an inspiration every chance they get, who mention something Andrew did or said years ago as if it gives them carte blanche for them to act without consideration or restraint now.

Enough. Enough. ENOUGH.

We all tweeted away after he died, "#IAmAndrewBreitbart!" but the brutal truth is none of us are.

We are not honoring the man with these actions. Whether we are engaging in this behavior ourselves or tolerating it in others, We Are Not Andrew Breitbart, and it makes me sad.

We do not honor him by trying to exclude each other, by trying to silence each other.

We honor him by using our own voices to tell our story, and encouraging others to use their voices to tell their stories.

Andrew's voice should be one that inspires others - many others - to come forward. We don't all need to sing the same song, but I cannot believe he would want any of us to tell others not to sing.

Andrew Breitbart: One Voice

More voices, more people, in more places, more, more, more. 

Not less.

[Cross-posted at RedState. And yeah, I'll cross-post it at BuzzFeed if they invite me, haha.]

Related posts:

The Man in the Arena: Remembering Andrew Breitbart 

Two videos, one voice: #IAmAndrewBreitbart

We have lost a giant: RIP Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012) [UPDATED to include lots of links] 

Andrew Breitbart is going to save the world

They hate, Breitbart laughs

Follow me on Twitter at @rumpfshaker


  1. Excellent piece, Sarah. I couldn't agree more. I don't recall any of the Big-sites ever being used as a cudgel to impose groupthink on other, non-Breitbart-affiliated conservative bloggers when Andrew was still with us. It seemed to me his energies were always directed at defeating the left as opposed to dictating what is acceptable and what's not acceptable when it comes to critiquing one another within the conservative movement.

    I can't imagine he would've ever tolerated what's been taking place in his name over the few days in particular. And it's a sad comment on the direction things have taken since his passing that I'm not aware of much else that's been taking place in his name over the past year.

  2. Sarah is right. We can do a lot better than this. I can't even think what AB would say if he were around to see this.

  3. The contretemps really is a minor nothing but I think you skate past the problem.

    Imagine you have a sibling. Like all families there are times when things aren't happy sunshine days, and imagine one day your sibling decides to go to a neighbor's and unload your family's dirty laundry. Not to just any neighbor, mind you, but one with a track record of wanting to see your house burn down and your entire family dead.

    Few people, particularly those with a sense of self-worth, would be ok with that. Ben went to that neighbor and unloaded. Buzzfeed wants nothing more than to see conservatives exiled to the political wastelands if not real honest-to-Jehovah concentration camps.

    So while this is a bit of nothing, a kerfuffle without any quantifiable outcome, being punched in the junk by a friend isn't something we have to be ok with.

    1. I've met a number of the BuzzFeed writers and absolutely positively do not believe any of them wanted to put me in a concentration camp.

      But go ahead and believe that if it makes you feel better.

      And my post was about a LOT more than the overreaction to one post on one website, or as I'm calling it, The Great BuzzFeed Heresy of 2013. No, this is much more widespread problem.

      ...and you're missing the whole point of my post. Andrew was dedicated to 1) encouraging more people to "enter the arena," 2) fighting for the truth, regardless of if it upset people (See, infra, "The truth isn't mean..."), and 3) being willing to leave the conservative comfort zone to get the message out.

    2. Ok, I'm going to be the petty one and ask you again, would you be ok with a sibling confiding with a nasty neighbor or not?

      BTW 'if not' means 'not.'

    3. Honestly, I don't see Ben's post as "confiding with a nasty neighbor." I see it as a legitimate criticism of one specific piece of work. Apples and oranges.

      Being a conservative does not mean that we are required to join the fan club of every Republican candidate, donate to every conservative cause, or mindlessly cheerlead for every work created by a fellow conservative.

  4. This is a great post. I think people who treat the conservative movement as a zero sum game are doing a disservice. But certain people are just like that, no matter what field they're in. They see success as a fixed portion and, ironically if they're conservatives, view it in a redistributive context. If someone else is successful, it takes away from THEIR success. Nothing could be further from the truth, but sadly, when they view competition that way rather than as something that can lift us all up, they bring everyone down. We should learn from economics and take a more capitalist approach to the conservative movement.

    Now of course this gets complicated, because everyone wants to fight for their vision of the GOP's future. It's no secret, for example, that I promote the liberty wing. But I try my hardest (and I know I fail sometimes) to show that intellectual diversity is a net benefit for our movement, and we can disagree and fight our battles without trying to create exclusivity. If it's primary season and we're fighting each other, which inevitably happens, that's fine. But I don't understand why we can't accept that the more wings the movement has the better. You can have your favorite and even constructively criticize the others without trying to force the other elements out of the movement out completely.

    When it's appropriate, I will fight the Republicans. That's how we got Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, my three favorite Senators. However, that doesn't mean I think other Republicans shouldn't be allowed in the party. The Democrats are amazing at using factions to ensure victory. Instead of worrying about the definition of true conservatism, just fight your battles constructively and realize that one person succeeding isn't bringing YOU down.

  5. WONDERFUL piece Sarah. I know on my radio show (Red, Right, and Blue every Saturday at 1:30 PM over at I had been going through Andrew's Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Revolutionaries (which he had written in Chapter 7 of Righteous Indignation) as my editorial. What I do is read the rule and Andrew's explanation therein, and then I chime in with just how we can apply it now

  6. Excellent post Sarah\

    I added it to the TMR News Links


  8. Great post Sarah! This is exactly what a ton of the people I know have been thinking since some of the earlier schisms started up last year, thank you for putting it into text form!

  9. Just wanted to add that it's good to not attack other conservatives for voicing their opinions and views, however, and it's a big HOWEVER, maybe we do need to do a little housecleaning.

    You quote Andrew Breitbart for fighting for truth. "Truth isn't mean, it's the truth."

    Well the truth is we have some bad people. Some bullies. Some people who are unapologetically doing the things you list. Maybe we should be clear that we aren't going to put up with it anymore.

  10. Thank you for saying this. This needs to be said more often.

  11. It is not written to smite folks. But it is written to try to get them fired by calling their employer. I think Jesus did that on several occasions.

  12. Sarah, your sentiments are well-taken. I also miss having an ally like Andrew. But practically everyone misses what was unique about him, IMHO, and in commenting on that, I’d also address your preceding post about “Eeyores” and glimmers of “hope”…


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