Breitbart: Noooooo!

I never met Breitbart – and now tragically I never will. But of all the heroes fighting the culture wars on our behalf he was probably the one I admired above all – and the one whose feisty, rumbustious, no-prisoners style I’ve striven most hard to emulate.

One of the big problems with conservatives, another of my heroes David Horowitz has argued, is that we’re just too darned nice. As I noted, once, in the Spectator:

Often former leftists make the best conservatives — think Paul Johnson and Peter Hitchens — for they suffer fewer illusions about how devious, dangerous and unprincipled the left can be. Schooled in Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and the Leninist method, Horowitz knows all too well that the left will lie, besmirch, cheat, character-assassinate, bully, threaten, blackmail, ballot-box-stuff, bomb, kill, anything to get its way. Conservatives are no match because ‘they’re too decent, too civilised,’ up against ‘destroyers, racists, bigots. I refuse to call them liberals — we are the liberals. They are totalitarians.’

Not for a moment am I suggesting that Breitbart wasn’t nice. What I am saying is that, like Horowitz, he understood rather better than most conservatives just how vile and unprincipled the liberal-left can be: and wasn’t afraid to use their tactics against them.

You saw this, especially, in his devastating use of Twitter. If you subscribed to @andrewbreitbart, most of the Tweets you’d get were Retweets of the spectacularly horrible insults which had been Tweeted to him by his leftist opponents. I now do this myself. When, as happened the other day, some college kid Tweeted asking for someone to knife me (because, apparently, he disagreed with my views on global warming) I simply Retweeted it – and allowed public exposure to do my work for me. Pretty soon, that college kid had been so inundated with criticism from my other Twitter followers he felt compelled to apologize profusely. (Though I don’t doubt fear of prosecution for incitement to murder may have been a factor in this, too).

Another of Breitbart’s techniques was simply to turn up at leftist rallies – and film himself being abused. Can you imagine if, say, Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher were simply to turn up at CPAC they’d get the same level of abuse? I honestly don’t think they would. It’s not how we conservatives roll. I know there are some Ricochet commentators who disagree with me on this point, but I say they’re wrong. Put crudely, conservatism is a philosophy of ideas, liberalism a philosophy of emotions. We don’t really go in for character assassination like the other side do because we consider it cheating.

Who will replace Breitbart? No one will and that’s my worry. Whether we polite conservatives realize this or not there’s a war going on here and unless we take the fight to the enemy like Breitbart did it’s a war we’re going to lose.

  1. Johnny Dubya

    James, I have exactly the same concern.  Breitbart’s scalpel-like wit, fierce intelligence, and indefatigable nature are irreplaceable.

  2. AmishDude

    Breitbart simply held a mirror up to the Left and they were repulsed by what they saw.  And they blamed him for it.

  3. Matthew Bartle

    Very well said, James. Agree completely.

  4. Diane Ellis
    C

    James, today was a rare morning where I opened Ricochet before I opened up the Drudge Report, so I learned the tragic news here with your post.  How devastating and sad.

  5. James Gawron

    James, Ben and Mollie,

    I just logged on.  I am really shocked.  Breitbart was of the best among us.  It will be difficult to replace someone so unique and effective.

    My condolences to family and friends who knew him well,

    Jim

  6. Limestone Cowboy

    My favorite recollection of Mr. Breitbart, and the one which most illustrated his aggressively good natured style was when he wandered into the Anthony Weiner “farewell” press conference  and simply took it over when Mr. Weiner failed to show up on time. Priceless.

  7. Mel Foil

    Maybe his greatest value was as a clearinghouse for information. There are a lot of people with unpleasant secrets, that would be important for voters to know about, but not many of those whistle-blowers want to walk into the hurricane of backlash. Andrew loved hurricanes. So much so, that they named a giant one after him before they even knew why.

  8. EllieP

    This is such a sad day. A devastating loss for conservative media in addition to his poor family . I grieve with them and will hold them in my prayers during this terrible time. Thank you for writing this tribute. The passionate rapier force that was Andrew Breitbart will be mourned for a very long time, indeed.

  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    James Delingpole: I never met Breitbart – and now tragically I never will. But of all the heroes fighting the culture wars on our behalf he was probably the one I admired above all – and the one whose feisty, rumbustious, no-prisoners style I’ve striven most hard to emulate.

    Rumbustious…

    Well, if it’s any consolation, you are rumbustious, so part of his legacy lives on in you.

  10. J.Voss
    If it could be said that Goldwaters’ book taught me that I was a conservative; and if it could be said that William F Buckley taught me that being conservative was alright; then it could definitely be said that Andrew Breitbart taught me what do to with that conservatism to make a real difference in the world. RIP Andrew, you made a difference.
  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    (Feisty, on the other hand, is a word I associate mostly with cats and little old ladies.)

  12. Percival

    His children have lost their father, his wife her husband, and for them and the rest of his family and friends I pray God’s peace.

    WANTED: One fearless, rambunctious, hyper-partisan conservative.  Must have skin like a rhinocerous, a thorough knowledge of Alinsky tactics, the capacity to attract attention to that which the main stream media have elected to ignore, and the ability to trigger spittle-flecked rage in progressives by force of will.

    If only it could be that easy.  Rest in Peace, Mr. Breitbart.

  13. David Knights

    Wow.  I am in shock. 

  14. Douglas
    AmishDude: Breitbart simply held a mirror up to the Left and they were repulsed by what they saw.  And they blamed him for it. · 17 minutes ago

    More than that, he exposed their deepest, darkest secrets to the world, the kind that loses elections for liberals. The kind that before Breitbart came along, were considered conspiracy theories before the light of day fell upon them. Without him, no one really would have believed how ACORN did business. He took a camera into their world, and damned them with their own words and actions for all the world to see. He did what journalists used to do. THAT’s what they really hated him for. He exposed them to such a degree that even the likes of Jon Stewart had to mock his own side. And to the left, that was devastating. 

  15. ParisParamus

    Apparently I’m now old enough to not be shocked at anyone’s death; I just feel somewhat sad and confused by this. And wonder if those Obama tapes promised are safe.Breitbart was, and is one of my heros. Breitbart was a conservative convert, and a right-brained one: creative, non-linear, not a rule abider. Such an inspiration! Has this really happened?I met him at CPAC a few weeks ago. I have him in a video arguing with a betraying reporter on my iphone!To those who care: we must redouble our efforts to confront the left a la Breitbart. He understood that this is a political war, but equally a culture war. WE NEED TO DE-DEMONIZE CONSERVATISM. Once the right is no longer seen as evil and uncool, the Left is done.RIP Breitbart. I hope you’re watching. And bless your family. And thank you!

  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    In fact, Mr Delingpole, I believe you run on an internal rumbustion engine.

  17. Idahoklahoman

    I agree with your characterization of liberals, even the ones that aren’t Alinskyites. I work with a guy who declares himself to be a proud liberal. Other than so declaring, everything he does is the stereotype of the uncaring right-winger. He’s reasonably well-off (he’s also very hard-working, so I don’t begrudge him that), plays tennis at the country club, wouldn’t cross the street to help a neighbor. And he feels no qualms whatsoever about telling me to my face, “I hate Republicans. I wish they’d all die.” I just laugh and tell him to get ready for a lot of pain next November.

  18. Grantman

    Baruch dayan emet.  Bless the judge of truth.   Andrew will be missed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children.   

  19. Israel P.

    Came in  after being out for about an hour and saw 187 unopened Twitter messages.  I knew something must have happened, bigger than Hines Ward.

    This is terrible.  Probably as close as we get to “unique” and “irreplaceable.”  The need to pick up the fallen torch is a cliche, but this time it’s real.

    Baruch Dayan Emet.

  20. Leslie Watkins

    Delingpole: We don’t really go in for character assassination like the other side do because we consider it cheating.

    I’m not into we statements, but how you’ve put this, James, is exactly how I try to roll. … To, me, that’s what Andrew Breitbart was all about: let’s roll.