What Breitbart Leaves Us

Andrew Breitbart

Andrew Breitbart

Andrew Breitbart was passionately invested in the battle of ideas engaged through social media. He was a thought warrior whose presence was so pervasive, it’s hard to believe we’re talking about him in the past tense.

There are too many remembrances to keep up with, though WaPo combines friends and foes in this one.

“Media Matters has a long history with Andrew Breitbart,” said Ari Rabin-Havt with the liberal watchdog that was a frequent Breitbart critic. “We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed.”

And…

Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, on her website:

“I was asked many times this morning for my thoughts on what Andrew meant to the political world, but all I can think of at the moment is what Andrew meant to me as a friend, starting from when we worked together — his passion, his exuberance, his fearlessness. And above all, what I’m thinking of at the moment is his amazing wife Susie and their four beautiful young children. My love and thoughts are with them right now.”

And…

Paul Krassner, co-founder of the 1960s radical group the Youth International Party (Yippies), who interviewed Breitbart last year for a lengthy, spirited debate that was published in the December issue of Playboy magazine:

“We should put our political and social differences aside at a time like this. It (death) humanizes people in a way that transcends politics.

Death and near-death, tragedy and natural disaster, have a way of focusing the collective mind on our common fragility. It’s good to see respect for that in otherwise adversarial arena.

But here’s something that captured something else, a compelling message that may not have occurred to others engaged in the relentless news cycle: Know when to unplug.

It resonates with those of us who stay online and connected most of the time, for reasons we think good if not necessary, or at least it did with me. I’ve been working on cutting back for weeks if not months. I blog and write articles and host a daily radio show and post updates and thoughts and links to Facebook and Twitter, and it is consuming. Time to be more prudent.

A week or two ago, I finally felt there were too many coarse and uncivil messages interspersed in the Twitter feed, and realized they were retweets by Andrew Breitbart of probably a fraction of what he was receiving, but it was too much. I decided to ‘unfollow’ him just to avoid encountering such harsh language. ‘Why in the world does he retweet these things?’ I wondered. Self-effacing humor? Good-sported exchange with detractors to say ‘have at it, I’ll help you spread your discontent’? All I knew was that I didn’t want to see it anymore.

And now he’s gone. We see no more of him or his huge presence anymore. What to say? Bill Whittle puts it well.

‘We asked him how he was doing. He pulled out his iPad to show us his latest vido and we said: Put the thing away. Tell us how you are doing…Disappear for a few weeks. Return all fit and rested and we’ll talk then.’…

Go get a heart check while you still can. Once you have a heart attack, if you survive it, you’re a heart patient for life.

I believe that Twitter killed Andrew Breitbart. Twitter is lovely for people who want to meet for a movie or ask your friends to cross their fingers for a big job interview. But Twitter meant that Andrew had with him at all times of day and night a little device that went ‘chirp’ when he was under attack and it went ‘chirp’ all the time. My friend Andrew could not simply walk away from that. So that’s another lesson I’m passing along from my friend Andrew: put it away. It’s important, but it’s not worth your life.

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Sheila Liaugminas

By

Sheila Gribben Liaugminas, of Chicago, is a member of the Voices editorial board, and was host of The Right Questions on Relevant Radio and Issues and Answers news show. She and her husband have two sons, one a seminarian and the other a college student. Follow updates on this story (and contact Sheila) at www.inforumblog.com.

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