By: Amy Lutz

There was a time when most bloggers were just guys who lived in their parents’ basements harping about the latest conspiracy theories. Not surprisingly, they were often not taken seriously. However, times have changed. With the dominance of new media forms and the exponential increase in online communication over the last decade, bloggers have become quite powerful. Countless scandals have been exposed and politicians removed from office because of the work of online opinion writers. Perhaps someone should tell that to Juan Williams. Earlier this week, during a debate with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin on Fox News, Williams remarked that his opponent was “just a blogger.” Williams, in his own opinion, is a “real reporter,” and should therefore be taken more seriously. I’ll try to get past the condescension in Juan William’s statement in order to make sense of his point. Ok I tried, I can’t do it. To discount bloggers and put them in the proverbial corner is both disrespectful and naïve.

Maybe Juan Williams just has a bad case of sour grapes. His livelihood is threatened by bloggers every day. As “real reporters” face a shrinking job market, bloggers are popping up all around cyberspace. They’ve filled the journalistic void caused by the lack of fair reporting in the media today. Hundreds of thousands of bloggers, old and young, male and female, have taken to doing the job that mainstream journalists and reporters often neglect: searching for the facts and revealing the truth. Many are not even paid for it. Such bloggers write because they want to, not because they’re being paid by a large news outlet. When bloggers do the job that journalists like Williams fail to do, they hold these “real reporters” accountable.

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Andrew Breitbart: Jedi of the Conservative Movement
By: Amy Lutz

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” These words, famously spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope struck me on the morning of March 1st as I obsessively clicked the refresh button on my computer. I fervently hoped that perpetually restoring my Google Chrome browser would eventually produce a different result. However, this truly was a case of desperate insanity. I finally accepted the horrible news I had discovered plastered all over the internet. Conservative icon Andrew Breitbart passed away on February 29th, 2012 at the age of 43. Part of me still expects him to emerge in a month to proclaim “April Fools, America.” However, perhaps this is nothing but a pipe dream. Yet, while the blogging world mourns Breitbart’s death, his legacy is not forgotten. In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, his cause is in fact stronger than ever.

After I came to terms with the death of my favorite conservative blogger, I surfed twitter, hoping to find solace in the online microcosm of political thought and opinionated one-liners. At first, I was not disappointed. My twitter feed quickly exploded with heartfelt remembrances and witty tributes. Rush Limbaugh called Breitbart a “Bulldog for the conservative cause” and Rick Perry tweeted, “RIP O’ Mighty Warrior.” Even many of Breitbart’s political adversaries had kind words for the late pundit. Ari Rabin-Havt of the liberal watchdog organization Media Matters for America said the following: “We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed.” It warmed my heart to see such an outpouring of positive sentiments. However, my warm response quickly turned into icy anger as I continued to read.

While many celebrated Andrew Breitbart’s life and career, countless others found joy in his death. Twitter and other social media sites displayed comments from online left-leaning trolls searching for an outlet for their hypocritical intolerance. Phrases like “Andrew Breitbart died doing what he loved. Not having a heart” and “They say Andrew Breitbart died of natural causes. Sure, that having that much evil inside you will almost naturally kill you” flooded the internet. However, the “celebrations” did not stop at the virtual borders of twitterland. Rolling Stone quickly posted a column expressing joy at Breitbart’s passing. The Daily Kos suggested that Westboro Baptist Church picket his funeral. This type of commentary is beyond revolting and I became increasingly appalled at such an outpouring of hatred. The left perpetually preaches a message of “tolerance” and “inclusion,” but such commentaries were downright intolerant at best. Cheering at the death of a political adversary is absolutely disgusting. However, in the face of this clear display of bigotry, Andrew Breitbart’s resolute example of tenacity and fearlessness echoed throughout the conservative movement.

If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from Andrew Breitbart, it’s that you can never, ever back down, even when confronted with blatant hatred. Soon after Breitbart’s critics surfaced in full force, conservatives found back. Hard. Breitbart was famous for re-tweeting his critics, especially the vilest ones. Following Breitbart’s passing, conservatives took on that responsibility. Soon, my twitter feed was no longer filled with tweets from well-wishers. Instead, twitter was flooded with re-tweets exposing the hateful commentaries made about Breitbart’s death. When it comes to exposing liberal intolerance, Andrew Breitbart was at the forefront. Yet, that cause did not falter after his death. Conservatives took on Breitbart’s mantle and made the cause that much stronger.

Andrew Breitbart was truly a “Jedi for the Conservative Cause.” Like his Star Wars counterparts, he was sometimes viewed as odd, off-kilter, or just plain crazy. However, Breitbart’s passionate mission to expose the intolerant liberal agenda profoundly impacted the conservative community and continues to do so after his passing. He may be gone, but his legacy will live through all of us. Andrew Breitbart truly is now more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. That strength rests in the efforts of Breitbart’s conservative supporters, many of whom are now using the #IamAndrewBreitbart hashtag on twitter in solidarity. It’s now up to us to memorialize him by making his mission our own. Andrew Breitbart may have passed on, but his passion is stronger than ever in the collective conservative conscience. Even in death, he has liberals shaking in their boots (Just wait until his videos of Obama’s college days are released in the next week). Yet, now that he’s gone, it’s time for the conservative blogging community to pick up where he left off. We are all Andrew Breitbart now.