HONOLULU, March 1, 2012―At 6AM Hawaii time, my phone began blowing up like a Hollywood marriage.
Text after text came in, making it impossible to ignore the outside world. There, in bold letters and exclamation points, came news that would crush hundreds of thousands of people all over America.
Andrew Breitbart, only 43 years young, had died.
One minute the world seemed awful because of a petty, sleep-shattering annoyance. A moment later it was awful for what it had lost. Andrew Breitbart collapsed on the street, and would never awaken again. One minute he was a genius with ideas flying fast and furious. The next minute he was gone.
For those truly sadistic individuals who took glee in his passing, look in the mirror and remember two things that go beyond politics. A good woman, Susan Bean, no longer has the love of her life. Four children no longer have a loving father. No human being should ever find joy in this.
Beyond his family, Andrew Breitbart affected so many people. Death is sad, but the pain of this one is spread wide. It also strikes close. Andrew Breitbart helped me personally, perhaps more than he ever knew.
When he formed his site “Big Hollywood,” my blog already had a loyal following. “Loyal” is code for “small.” Andrew added me to his list of writers.
The only rule was that since I was not in the entertainment industry, I could only write about entertainment. That may seem counter-intuitive, but he wanted people to branch out. The entertainment people could discuss politics, but political people like me were relegated to entertainment. This kept his site from being like every other site where political people talked about politics in the same way.
It was a mismatch from the start, and his chief editor kept reminding me to just stick to entertainment and avoid politics. When the business relationship ended, my main worry was not about myself. I felt guilty that I had wasted Andrew’s time and space, and that he would be upset with me.
The next time I ran into him, he was as nice as can be. He had a hearty handshake for me. He said that he would be creating another site (Big Government) that was more political, but to have a guy writing about entertainment who hated the entertainment industry made zero sense. We laughed about it.
I only wrote for Andrew for three or four months, but many people hired me based on his reputation. Even a guy who wrote for Breitbart badly had to be good for something.
My blog traffic exploded because I wrote for Andrew Breitbart. My speaking career began with a paper thin resume stating that I had written for Andrew Breitbart. Google search engines still pull me up several years later with the headline that I wrote for Andrew Breitbart.
I saw Andrew several months ago when he spoke to the Hollywood Congress of Republicans. This was just after he spoke at the press conference where disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner would resign.
Breitbart had the crowd rollicking as he tossed out words at a rapid clip. He said that some people thought he was on drugs because he would literally forget in mid-sentence what he was saying. He had so many streams of consciousness that they often interrupted each other. Yet the result was sheer brilliance. The wheels were always turning in his head, and his circles to get to the rhetorical flourish of a conclusion far surpassed the more traditional linear approach most of us communicate by.
After the speech, we spoke for the last time. He was complimentary of my achievements, but I told him “You gave me a great opportunity, and I made the least of it.” He disagreed, and then said some gracious things that shall remain private.
In the spirit of Andrew Breitbart, my memories of him are not in chronological order as veering backward momentarily brings another memory. During the time I wrote for him, he was the featured speaker to the Los Angeles chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition. My job was to speak for three to five minutes and introduce him.
After politely requesting that everyone turn off their cell phones so as not to interrupt Andrew, he interrupted me and said, “May I keep mine on?”
Everyone laughed, and since I was writing for him at the time, I replied, “You’re my boss. You can do whatever you want.”
Andrew’s cell was always on. On airplanes, when flight attendants were not looking, he would furiously try to find air pockets in the sky where he could receive cell service and check his messages. His phone was a metaphor for his mind. Those cells were always working, always churning, and always moving to produce a great result.
Was he controversial? Absolutely. Were many of his critics fair? Absolutely not. He was a conservative in Hollywood, and the message he communicated was that too many liberals, especially in Hollywood, were simply bullies. He was tired of the bullying, so he decided to fight back. He did not hate liberals. He simply wanted them to stop hating him and other conservatives. He wanted conservatives in Hollywood to stop having to be silent for fear of being blacklisted.
He wanted people to be treated equally. He wanted “tolerance” to include ideology and politics in addition to the politically correct forms of racial and ethnic tolerance. My first book “Ideological Bigotry” was inspired by the very abuse that Andrew and many of his friends experienced not for anything they did, but just for being and believing differently than those who ruled with an iron liberal fist.
Andrew gave a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. In Hollywood, that would be conservatives and Republicans.
Journalists talk about “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” In Hollywood, he stood up for the afflicted conservatives against the powerful liberals. His goal was not to turn Hollywood conservative. He was just wanted people who thought the way he did, which is about half the nation, to be treated like human beings. Hollywood is not all-knowing, and Middle America are not yokels and hicks. Andrew understood this.
He exposed corruption. People who do that make enemies. Yet from the many people he helped along the way, Andrew Breitbart earned friendship and loyalty.
My life is better for having met Andrew Breitbart. His death at age 43 is a kick in the gut, for he was only three years older than I.
Yet if life is about making the world a better place, Andrew Breitbart did much more than most in a much shorter time span. He was the voice for many people who had been browbeaten into silence out of fear of ideological ostracism.
He was Jewish, and Synagogues are often hotbeds of liberalism. His speaking up gave other politically conservative Jewish people such as myself the courage to let Rabbis know that Judaism was not liberalism, and that a Synagogue that attacks conservatism is welcoming for nobody.
Mr. Breitbart was not as passionate a warrior with his religion as he was with his vocational field, but the fact is every segment of society where conservatives were on the run is now (in some cases very slightly) better because Andrew Breitbart spoke up.
So yes, his life was heroic. Like many heroes, he was cut down way too soon. He once joked about Hollywood executives “snorting cocaine off of a naked woman’s (redacted),” but it was natural causes that did Mr. Breitbart in. He worked in Hollywood, but did not get sucked into the culture. This was because at the end of the day, he was more than just a pundit, a writer, a blogger, and an entrepreneur.
He was a husband and father. Like any family man, he understood what love was about. Those who attacked him faced a fierce contra attack. Yet those who treated him with dignity and loyalty received the same in kind. His critics savaged him with hatred. He responded with precise rapier wit. As he has passed so tragically unexpectedly, even many of his fiercest critics acknowledged his professionalism, love of life, and common decency.
So to Andrew Breitbart, a man who gave the world journalism forever in the best possible way in the modern era, there is only one thing left to say.
“Shalom, Haver.” Goodbye friend.
Thank you Andrew. You will be missed. Shalom.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS
Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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