05 March 2012

Douthat Follies

I usually find it easy to ignore Ross Douthat, one of several house conservatives on The New York Times editorial page. He is pretty dim and mostly uninteresting. But he now has committed what I take to be journalistic malpractice, comparing two men who died last week - James Q. Wilson and Andrew Breitbart. I have had my say about the unlamented Breitbart here already. I was never terribly impressed by Wilson. Yet it seems a gross insult to mention him in the same breath as Breitbart. To see why, we need is to consider the grounds Douthat offers for his comparison: "They were both prominent conservatives who arguably left their most enduring legacy in the lives of affluent, cosmopolitan liberals." That may be true of Wilson. But Breitbart spread his malicious bullshit at the expense of people who hardly count as affluent or cosmopolitan. Do the poor who ACORN sought to organize fit that description? How about Shirley Sherrod? By describing Breitbart as a "rascal" Douthat demonstrates the same persistent moral tone-deafness as most of his conservative chums. Screwing the less-well-off or less-well-situated - which is what Breitbart practiced in his attacks on the poor and on a decent, creative, accomplished Black public official - is not cute or charming in a boys-will-be-boys sort of way. It is nasty and bullying.

However you might assess his work, Wilson was a serious man. By contrast, Breitbart was simply loathsome. He left no redeeming legacy.

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