Saturday, June 9, 2007

Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein, from Steve Gilliard's News Blog site

I haven't written anything before now on the death of Steve Gilliard, who was one of the pioneers of the liberal blogosphere. He was one of the original front-page bloggers at Daily Kos. I learned a lot from reading his blog. And I'd like to think I've incorporated a couple of elements of the non-nonsense bluntness of his writing style into my blogging.

The blogging I most appreciated of Steve's was his work on military affairs. He was extremely good at reading between the lines of official statements that were designed to hide problems in the Iraq War. He never lost sight of the fact that events on the ground were going to drive the course of the war there. Or, as the military puts it, the enemy has a say in the outcome.

I also found his writing on African-American politics, and on the neo-Confederate and other far-right ideologies, very helpful. In particular, he was very good about stressing that we shouldn't get too distracted by the religious talk of the Christian Right, no matter how "sincere" their beliefs may be. Because he always kept a focus on the fact that white Christian fundamentalists and white folks who really don't like black people are two groups that heavily overlap. So, for instance, mealy-mouthing about abortion rights isn't going to win the Democrats any votes from people who vote for the Republicans because they see them as the White People's Party.

Steve will be greatly missed. He left us far too soon. If there's a Heaven, I'm sure he's there right now, trying to set straight any Republicans who also may have gotten in.

Steve's passing reminds me that as valuable as the blogosphere has been in American politics the last 6+ years, it has a somewhat more transient nature than non-virtual media. The notice at Steve's blog says that his site will be taken down in a few weeks, which is a real loss for the online community. I hope that someone somewhere - university libraries, the Libarary of Congress, major public libraries - are archiving his posts so that they will be available in the future.

The clowns in our mainstream media - Steve might have used the term "assclowns" - who meekly repeated the White House line on the Iraq War for years were dead wrong about that war. Steve Gilliard was right about the war far more often than they were. Historians in the future could benefit by having his material readily available.


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