Andrew Breitbart passed away of natural causes around 12 am today in Los Angeles. He was 43 years old.
He was known for his loud defense of conservative ideals, for his fearless fervor, for his aggressive approach which translated into an honest, down-to-Earth likability. His websites, Big Government, Big Journalism, Big Peace and Big Hollywood each have a great memorial to him today, but the best words are probably his own, from the conclusion of his book, Righteous Indignation:
I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.
Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.
I’ve only seen Andrew Breitbart in person once, and it’s not as though I have ever had a personal connection to him. But I’ve been crying for most of the morning, because I already feel the void left where his loud roar used to be, rumbling through the blogosphere, laughing at the haters on Twitter and fearlessly covering scandals and corruption like no one else would.
So many people are afraid to stand up for what they believe in, and the internet can be a cruel place, filled with angry anonymous commenters and not-so-anonymous loss of friendship and fellowship over an unpopular opinion. And I’m nobody, just a little libertarian/conservative gal sitting on her couch, hollering at the teevee and blogging about it, but Breitbart gave me courage. He gave me courage to take the hyperbole in stride, to call things as I see them and never back down from my convictions. He was the big voice, the honest critic of “the way things are” – legitimizing bloggers and video-makers and Tea Party people all over the country.
He proved to us that truth, honesty and a healthy gut-check is vital. He long roared that the First Amendment doesn’t just belong to the politically correct or the corporately paid, and he lived up to that sentiment, proving that you don’t have to have an anchor desk at CNN to influence people and policy, and that all of us little opinion-makers and bloggers and passionate hopefuls have something to say. I’m going to leave you with Steven Crowder’s memorial video from this morning because I can resonate with his words. I haven’t arrived yet – I may never get to write anywhere but this little corner of the internet – and I only hope that we, Breitbart’s beloved citizen-journalists – can carry on his mission and help each other keep speaking up.
Go with God, sir. We already miss your roar, but we are going to strive to continue the fight in your stead.