I really don’t have anything to say about the passing of Breitbart other than I am really sad for his family. These poor kids just lost their dad.
I don’t see any purpose in getting my jollies trashing the guy as he is dead and can no longer defend himself, and I really think that when you can’t wait to spit on someone’s grave, it doesn’t reflect badly on them. I’m a deeply flawed person myself- vulgar and profane, often times bitter, often too quick to judge, I don’t do enough for my fellow man, and many other flaws too numerous to count, but I do honestly try to be a better person. In my estimation, part of trying to be a better person is showing a basic level of decency that includes having the self-restraint to not trash the recently deceased. I know some of you don’t feel the same way, and I know for a fact Breitbart himself didn’t feel constrained by any similar notions of restraint or respect for others, but I’d like to try to be a better man.
I’ve seen a lot of obits and personal remembrances, but this Frum piece is measured and outstanding:
In time, Andrew Breitbart might have aged into greater self-control and a higher concept of public service. Premature death deprived him of the chance at redemption often sought and sometimes found by people who have done wrong in their lives and work.
And this is where it becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness—when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas—how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career?
Especially when that career was so representative of his times?
We live in a time of political and media demagoguery unparalleled since the 19th century. Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die. What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them? Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.
In my estimation, Breitbart was far more damaging to the causes he claimed to support than he was to “teh left.” He got a few scalps, but he was one of the ringleaders fueling the insanity in the current right-wing circus. He’s as much an architect of the tea party sickness infecting our body politic as anyone, so there really is no reason to trash the guy. His legacy does that by itself.