What Breitbart leaves us

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. 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.

At the end of the day, do what my friend Andrew couldn’t do. No matter what you do, put it down and go home and relax.

While we still have the time and opportunity to do that. And if we don’t remember how, we need to re-learn it. Because we need to be engaged perhaps like never before. And we need to learn to detach, perhaps like never before.

Andrew Breitbart, rest in peace.

What did we learn from the Komen-PP fiasco?

It has been deeply revealing and we have learned much.

First of all, that the relationship existed. After all the years of doubt or uncertainty by many contributors to the Pink Ribbon campaign over whether the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure donated some of those funds to Planned Parenthood, it’s all out there now. So there will never be another Pink October or any other fundraising campaign in which ubiquitous pink ribbons  and the Komen logo of the breast cancer awareness giant will not be associated with Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant.

Second, we saw the full weight of Planned Parenthood’s power and fury. On a hair trigger, they and their supporters fired off relentless rounds of volleys through a vast social media network. And they either pressured or cajoled nearly two dozen US senators to leap into the fire and lobby on their behalf, all on practically no notice.

Senators Frank Lautenberg, Patty Murray and 20 other Democrats have prepared a letter, obtained by Reuters, saying Komen’s move “threatens to reduce access to necessary, life-savings services. We urge Komen to reconsider its decision.”

They certainly didn’t take the time to research the veracity of their claim about access and services, and anything else pertaining to the truth of the matter.

“It would be tragic if any woman, let alone thousands of women, lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack,” said the letter, which was due to be sent later on Thursday.

It all worked, and fast, which is a big lesson for the pro-life movement. Whatever else Planned Parenthood is, it is highly successful in everything it does nationally, at the local level and highest levels of government obviously up to the White House itself. And it is highly successful as a force to be reckoned with because it is relentless in applying pressure and mobilizing rapid response forces that frame a message, make it go viral and then make it stick. They make it clear that there will be consequences to non-compliance with their demands, and they follow through.

This, with another tenor but no less tenacity, is a model for the pro-life or any movement to notice and consider. Leave aside PP’s bullying for another post…

Social activism can change policies and laws when people unite behind a cause with a fervent commitment, make a clear statement meant to ‘stick’, mobilize a network through social media, make a sustained effort to make the message go viral, and refuse to go away or back down. And make it clear there will be consequences to the response or lack of one.

The movement should be unapologetically forceful, but unassailably positive and relentlessly determined. And it helps when it’s an election year.