The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 made me a conservative. Andrew Breitbart convinced me to put on a helmet and join the culture war.
My political awakening began under the gimlet eyes of conservatives like Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Steyn. They proved invaluable in their own unique way, and slowly I saw how liberals often saw only the worst in the country. Our country.
That wasn't me.
Years passed, and I learned how the entertainment I so eagerly consumed was part of a larger effort of liberal indoctrination. As with higher education and the major news outlets, the forces behind films, TV shows and music had a message to share, and it often didn't reflect my values. In fact, it sometimes stepped all over them.
And then I started reading Andrew's columns, first in the Washington Times and, later, on the cyber pages of Breitbart.com.
Andrew acknowledged the media bias blooming before my eyes, but more importantly he wasn't content to sit back and bemoan the sad state of affairs. He fought back. Hard, when necessary.
I suddenly thought back to all those social situations where strangers, after knowing me for roughly ten minutes, would call me a fascist when they learned I was a conservative. Or how I held my tongue when the conversation turned to politics, and my fellow conservatives were unfairly targeted for ridicule.
I usually said nothing or made a joke to defuse the situation, letting these clods off the hook. I was simply mimicking most of my conservative peers, playing by the left's rules and blindly assuming I had something for which to apologize.
Andrew's Righteous Indignation tome became my guide, his regular columns steady reminders of the forces at play and the need to fight back.
Andrew's death shook me even though we had only met briefly over the course of a few days. Who could replace his voice, his vision, his willingness to punch bullies square in the nose when the situation demanded?
I can. And so can any conservative with a computer, a sense of fairness and an urge not to sit there and take it any more.
Photo credit: Eric Spiegelman