The 4th of July is a time when Americans celebrate patriots past and present – those from our founding who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to build a nation under God in which liberty and freedom would be thrive. We honor present patriots as well, who give the ultimate sacrifice for this country and its freedom. I plan to spend this Independence Day celebrating one of the bravest and most courageous patriots I have ever known.
I first met Andrew Breitbart on UCLA campus. I was drafted to take part in a “sting” surrounding Howard Zinn’s “Peoples’ History of the United States.” The History Channel was airing a cinematic version of Zinn’s revisionist history later in the month, and the producer and actors from the event toured campuses around the nation and ended their tour at UCLA. The idea was that a group of us would go in, sit separately in the auditorium, and it was possible my sister and I would be fed questions to ask during the Q&A section. That lasted a whole 10 minutes into the question and answer section of the presentation. Andrew just decided to go up to the mic himself and take on Josh Brolin and their revisionist ways.
Andrew even caught up with the producer afterwards. He had a flip cam with him but couldn’t figure out how to work it. The producer was kind enough to show Andrew how to start recording and Andrew and he sat in a corner of the the lobby for a jovial interview. Andrew came out to the circle of his friends and myself and was beaming from ear to ear. “He’s like a teddy bear,” Andrew said about the producer for the dark side. “He was really nice.”
In truth, I really had no idea who Andrew was. My sister, on the other hand, was star struck because she had followed Andrew since early in his career. Andrew seemed like a cool guy, but at that moment I had read maybe five posts on “Big Hollywood” and they were all about musical theatre. But Andrew seemed like a hilarious guy. He, of course, cast some type of aura that is hard to explain, but you just wanted to be around it. He had big ideas, a quick wit, and I never stopped smiling in his presence. I left the festivities thinking that I would love to hang out with him and his friends again and that maybe I should check out the rest of his website.
It was in 2006 when I first started teaching at a leadership camp for teenagers. My main focus every year is teaching students to engage culture, to tell them that there is a war going on for the next generation’s minds. It’s a war that has many fronts: culture, politics, media, history, and yes, the spiritual. But the war for absolute truth has many fronts and not everyone is meant to have the same job. Just like in a real war where there are spies, infantry men, and their loved ones waiting at home, there are different jobs and areas in this war. When I met Andrew in 2009, I had never heard anyone talk about the war on culture, the front in the media. But at CPAC 2010 and in several Tea Party speeches after I heard Andrew talk about the war and the multiple fronts it was being fought. He labeled the enemy “the Democrat-Media Complex.” Like thousands and thousands of others, I heard Andrew speak and thought, “He gets it! I’m not alone! He gets it!”
I began writing for his site, Big Journalism. The media might be the most egregious enemy in this war since they spin the truth in such a disgusting manner. As I began to write more and more, and slowly be introduced in the circle around Andrew, I became more and more incensed to fight and found my place in the ranks of the battle. At the beginning of 2011, a few people at CPAC lamented how they wished Andrew would hire them to write full-time at the sites. I remember thinking, “I don’t think I would want to work for Breitbart.” It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, I loved being around him and his colleagues, but Andrew and I were very different. He said the “f” word a lot. A whole lot. I don’t cuss. He held every meeting, every gathering at some sort of bar. I don’t really drink. He wasn’t religious, per se. I am deeply religious. However, I always knew that Andrew would fight for me to be able to exercise my prudish ways. But Andrew always appeared to be very scattered. But yet, any time he saw me he would always stop, no matter how many people were around, and say “hello”. He never had to do that, as there was always 100 more important people in the room waiting to talk to him. But he almost always made the effort to say “hi” when he saw me.
I’ve had a lot of jobs in a variety of areas and I’ve enjoyed just about every one of them. But I knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I knew I wasn’t fighting where I was supposed to fight. One day I heard Andrew sum up his philosophy with this statement: “I hate bullies.” That was when I knew I had to protect, write for, and champion Andrew Breitbart. That is me. I hate bullies. Andrew was a fighter, but sometimes the fighter can’t fight for themselves. That was my job, I was going to fight for the fighters.
It is an all-consuming, never ceasing, driving force that keeps some of us awake at night, that stops us from being able to “switch off”, to leave our computers, or to have a normal life. Andrew put it this way in his book “Righteous Indignation”: “I volunteered to fight in this war. I have risen through the ranks and now find myself on the front lines… It is no longer a choice to fight; I am compelled to fight.”
Thank you, Andrew, for giving a place for those who are compelled to fight.
Cheers, patriot. You are missed.
Follow Meredith Dake on twitter: @meredithdake