It probably says something about the state of civility in our culture and discourse that when I heard of Andrew Breitbart’s death, one of my first reactions was to imagine just how gleeful the reaction would be on the port-side of American politics.
I suppose it is easy to get angry at this band of ghouls. But pity is the overwhelming reaction to their behavior. How empty must one’s life be if one actually feels it is necessary to take to the Internet and revel in the death of a media celebrity whose politics one disagrees with? Andrew Breitbart was not a dictator, tyrant, criminal, or genocidal maniac, mind you. Just a guy on the other side of the political fence, who left behind a widow and children, by the way. If it was really necessary for Matthew Yglesias and his equally graceless friends to fill holes in their souls by rubbing salt into the wounds of anyone mourning Andrew Breitbart–and of course, there are a great many decent people mourning Andrew Breitbart–then isn’t it clear that Yglesias & Company come out worse in the aftermath of their desperate attempts to get the last word in an argument with a corpse?
One of the excuses used to justify the behavior of Yglesias et al. is that when Ted Kennedy died, Breitbart hardly grieved. I guess this means that the Breitbart-haters are relying on the argument that two wrongs do make a right. Good luck with getting people to buy that nonsense.
To be fair, there are plenty of writers and personalities on the Left who chose the gracious route, and who expressed their condolences to Breitbart’s friends and family, all of whom are going through a tremendously difficult time. And it is certainly possible to take issue with parts of Breitbart’s legacy, while still remaining a decent human being, as Jack Shafer shows. But let it be remembered that a host of people who in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting complained about the vicious tone in American politics–even as they sought to get their audience to believe in the lie that the Giffords shooting was an act of political hate sanctioned by the mainstream right–have shown that they bear a tremendous amount of responsibility for what is wrong with American politics and America’s civil culture today. It is left to people like me to feel ashamed for them, as they are incapable of shame themselves.