Random thoughts on the fifth anniversary of his death
Andrew Breitbart died five years ago last week, so I’m thinking it might pay to remind people where the name “Breitbart” hails from: a man who is no longer on this earth, but seems to be felt everywhere.
First, Andrew was one of the deepest, funniest, smartest individuals I’ve ever met — and the world deserves to know him. Most people know of my relationship with A.B. — though I don’t talk about it much, unless I’m asked.
[Order Andrew’s legendary book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!” from Amazon.com]
In short, we wrote together, talked daily about everything. We conspired hourly for weeks at a time — from our start at the Huffington Post (yes, kids, he launched that site, and I wrote for it) to the Anthony Weiner episode — almost entirely and accidentally choreographed by Breitbart himself. He graced my show Redeye many times, peppering it with memorably absurd appearances. We always drank and sometimes got into trouble afterward (see the Opie and Anthony appearance after the Anthony Weiner press conference). I edited his pieces sometimes, helped organize his second book and helped when I could on his latest endeavors. This went on for nearly a decade, until his death.
“Andrew died a great man, and his life — and death — spawned a movement. In my humble opinion, you could not have had the election of Donald Trump without the phenomenon that was (and still is) Andrew Breitbart.”
Sadly, I had the honor that no one wants when it comes to a close friend: to speak at the reception following his funeral.
If Breitbart is part of your everyday lexicon, then you should know where the moniker hails from. Andrew Breitbart was a joyful, hilarious man. How many people know that? They must know that.
There is a grim silver lining when you die young. There’s no additional 30 years of assorted career changes, gaps of non-exciting employment and detours into events that muddy early great achievements. If you live
long enough, you become disappointing.
Andrew died a great man, and his life — and death — spawned a movement. In my humble opinion, you could not have had the election of Donald Trump without the phenomenon that was (and still is) Andrew Breitbart.
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Andrew was about waging war with the left by using the left’s tactics. His foot soldiers are everywhere now, and their footprints are all over the faces of the shocked liberals who never saw them coming.
Andrew was inclusive, not solely ideological. He was a party leader who wanted a tent big enough for everyone, not a litmus test for locksteppers. He might have rubbed shoulders with the religious, the vocally right-wing, the hardcore moralistic — but he had no tolerance for those who demonized by lifestyle. Did you know Andrew backed out of CPAC because it initially refused to allow gay groups to speak?
When groups planned to boycott CPAC 2011, Andrew promised to throw a bash for right-wing gays. He wanted to call it the “first annual Roy Cohn CPAC Breitbart Homocon Welcoming ’80s Extravaganza.” Breitbart loved exceedingly long titles. Overdoing it was his way of doing it.
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Andrew once was a liberal, but like all liberals with a brain, he wised up. He was a crappy student (he wasn’t much of a reader, he admitted) who liked to party, and he was a default liberal — simply because it was easy and without risk. But when he saw the Clarence Thomas hearings, he transformed from a goofy, partying liberal into a libertarian/conservative Reaganite. He worked for Matt Drudge and then he gravitated toward Arianna Huffington, working as her researcher before helping launch her celebrity-drenched site. He told me his purpose at HuffPo: By giving a voice to liberal celebrities about political issues, he could show the world how absurd their beliefs really were. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Barone writes: Something like that is happening now — but the violence is coming from leftists, not Trumpists. Take the University of California, Berkeley, [long pause] please. That’s where a speech to the Young Republicans by rightist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by a screaming mob on February 1, as this eyewitness account from Power Line’s Steven Hayward records. Not only was the speech shut down, but gangs of ski-masked and bandana-wearing protesters roamed the streets just off campus with sledgehammers, smashing ATM machines. In one instance, Hayward reports, a 62-year-old Republican who voted for Hillary Clinton held up a sign reading “1st Amendment Protects All Speech” and, on the obverse side, “Even Milo’s” was punched in the nose and dropped to the ground.
Where were the police? Not in a position to help—by design. In this “lethal, horror situation,” said University of California Berkeley campus police chief Margo Bennett, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We have to do exactly what we did last night: to show tremendous restraint.”
They made just one arrest. As for City of Berkeley police, according to the San Francisco Chronicle they came equipped with riot gear, but “as the violence escalated, officers pulled back.” Police on a balcony ordered rioters to disperse, but made no move to stop them, supposedly to prevent injury to “innocent protesters and bystanders.” City police made no arrests. “Our primary objective with the resources we had was the protection of life.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘The enemy of my enemy is my ally’
Human monkey behavior is often an under-explored element in articles about group dynamics in politics. That’s why we’re pleased to find National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg liberally including quotations from evolutionary psychologist John Tooby. This is from Jonah’s weekly column in the LATimes:
Jonah Goldberg writes:
…From the outset, many on the right who do not consider themselves part of the Cult of Milo opposed his invitation. The disturbing thing is that, absent these videos, we would have lost the fight.
“John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the ‘coalitional instinct.’ In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership … This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird’.”
Even now, Schlapp defends the initial decision to invite Yiannopoulis. On Monday’s ”Morning Joe,” he insisted: “The fact is, he’s got a voice that a lot of young people listen to.” A lot of young conservative people, he should have added, precisely because he enrages so many young liberals.
“If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,’ Tooby wrote on Edge.org. ‘This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.’”
John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the “coalitional instinct.” In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If “you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,” Tooby wrote on Edge.org. “This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.”
We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.
Today, the right sees the left as enemies — and, I should say, vice versa. Read the rest of this entry »
Simon & Schuster’s Adam Rothberg announced that the company and its Threshold Editions division would be canceling its publication of Yiannopoulos’ book, ‘Dangerous.’ It was due for release on June 13.
The decision comes amid a controversy involving a video from January 2016, in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend pedophilia. It resurfaced after it was recently shared on a conservative blog, and has gained traction and backlash over the past week.
— (((Adam Rothberg))) (@AdamRothberg) February 20, 2017
“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt said in a statement. “It is up to him to answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments.”
In the video, a 2016 episode of podcast “The Drunken Peasants,” Yiannopoulos discussed his own experience with sexual assault as a teenager. Read the rest of this entry »
BERKELEY, CA—A protest at UC Berkeley turned violent Wednesday night into Thursday morning as hundreds of rioters set fires, assaulted people, damaged vehicles, and smashed storefronts. But in the midst of all the chaos: an inspirational moment. After beating a man unconscious for disagreeing with him, a masked protester pulled out a black marker and […] Read the rest of this entry »
“I wrote a book called ‘Liberal Fascism’ about a decade ago, and even then the best working definition of a Fascist in America is ‘a conservative who’s winning an argument’. The way the Left operates, they just try to shout down anyone who disagrees with them, these campuses are little, sort of soft-Totalitarian states where disagreements is actually a heresy.”
“By all means, Milo has a right to speak, he has free speech rights, they should have let him speak, the far smarter strategy would be to ignore these things, but the clampdown on free speech that’s more troubling is when they block people like Condoleeza Rice from being able to give a speech. The whole point to protecting outrageous speech is that it keeps the zone of speech for reasonable important speech safer, the way they do this kind of stuff is so counterproductive, it feeds into the worse impulses on both the right and the left, and Berkeley, and the administration of Berkeley should be ashamed of itself.”
[NEW – Berkeley’s Shame – NR Editors]
[More – Populism Is Not Fascism]
MSNBC reporter Hallie Jackson ironically referred to Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos as a “flame-thrower” on Thursday while scenes played out of people at California-Berkeley literally setting fires the night before in protest of him speaking on their campus.
“Jackson’s use of the term ‘flame-thrower’ was humorous given that Yiannopoulos was not the one who actually caused parts of campus to go up in flames.”
“This protest developed overnight out at Berkeley because Milo Yiannopoulos, sort-of noted troll, sort-of flame thrower if you will, was set to speak,” Jackson said, as images showed of the chaos. Read the rest of this entry »
Rioters break windows, set fire to force cancellation of Breitbart editor’s UC-Berkeley talk
A planned talk at the University of California-Berkeley by polarizing Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled Wednesday evening after protesters threw smoke bombs and flares at the student union building where he was scheduled to speak.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 2, 2017
“Violent left-wing protesters stormed the building and forced me to be evacuated by police and by my security detail,” Yiannopoulos told Fox News‘ Tucker Carlson in a phone interview from an undisclosed location.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or arrests.
Yiannopoulos, 32, is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and a self-proclaimed internet troll whose comments have been criticized as racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim and white supremacist.
The decision to cancel was made two hours before the start of the event because a crowd of more than 1,500 people had gathered outside the venue, the university said in a statement.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display, and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives,” the statement read, in part.
Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators carrying signs that read “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech” had been protesting for hours before the event.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 2, 2017
In the evening, a small group dressed in black broke windows, threw smoke bombs and flares, and set a large bonfire outside the building. Some members of that group were wearing hooded sweatshirts.
The demonstrators were met by tight security in the form of law enforcement armed in riot gear. Some rioters broke windows and lit fireworks, while others pulled away the metal barricades in front of the building.
A shelter in place order was in effect and the Cal campus was placed on lockdown. Read the rest of this entry »
PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 23 (UPI) — An Oregon man was filmed doing his part to keep Portland weird by dressing up as a Scottish Santa and playing flaming bagpipes while riding a unicycle.
Brian Kidd, aka The Unipiper, posted a video to YouTube showing him ringing in the holiday season in a festively eccentric fashion.
The video shows Kidd riding a unicycle while dressed as Santa from the waist up and a kilt-sporting Scotsman from the waist down. Read the rest of this entry »