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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Sunday, March 18, 2007

for steve gilliard: 1966-2007

I've watched with a mixture of trepidation, anguish and hope as Jen updates us on Steve Gilliard's health. Like so many of you, I want nothing more than to click on Steve and Jen's News Blog and read Steve's distinctive, unmistakeable voice.

There is no substitute.

While, selfishly, we all would like to have Steve back writing again as soon as possible, I can also speak for all of us when I say that, most importantly, we want Steve to be healthy for those who are most close to him. I hope Steve and Jen know how many of us are thinking of them right now.


For those of us writing and reading in this new medium...the blogosphere, online community, the blogs...there can be an awkwardness when a voice we've come to know goes silent through a personal crisis. How do we bridge the gap in what is, at times, a cold and impersonal medium? Frankly, I don't know. I can say this:

There is nothing cold and impersonal about Steve Gilliard.

Whether it is his coverage of the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina or New York City politics, Steve is often an essential...if not, at times, the essential...read on a given story. Steve Gilliard brooks no bullshit, especially from those in power, and he always cuts to the core of the issue at hand. While I don't always agree with him, when Steve is "onto" a story, like many others, I find myself going back to his blog time and again.

When you are looking for someone to break an issue down to its essential core, especially, but not exclusively, when that issue deals with race in America, Steve Gilliard's News Blog is a must read. This is not simply for Steve's own cogent views and voice, but also his willingness to pull from an eclectic range of sources for articles on his front page.

Now, I don't know Steve personally. He has published a few of my pieces on his blog and I've made forty or fifty comments there. My links to his site have, most certainly, had an insignificant impact on his overall traffic. I can say this, however: there is something about the way Steve writes, about the way he gives himself to the stories and issues he covers, about his forthright honesty, that has made a deep impression on his readers and on me. Steve has defined, in his own way, the mix of personal and political that defines what it means to blog, to be a "blogger."

And that brings me to my final point.

It is easy to imply that politics are simply about big ideas, about party and ideology, about the ever spinning news cycle. That point of view obscures something, however, that Steve's health crisis brings home.

Politics is, most essentially, about connectedness and community, about people, about our polis, whether it be virtual or concrete. That is the core insight, if you ask me, behind all political thought: we are in this together. That is why the French put fraternité, or fellow feeling, in the trio of values of their Republic. And that solidarity, or fraternity, is what informed at the deepest level the writing of Steve's progenitors in opinionated coverage of the news...writers like Molly Ivins, George Orwell and I.F. Stone.

At the end of the day, this fellow feeling is based on specificity. We are loyal to our friends, to our communities, to our colleagues. We live in our "cities," whatever their nature, and those cities bind us together. What happens to one of us impacts us all. We care when one of our friends, like Steve, falls ill. And on this level there is most certainly love in politics. That is not too strong a word when referring to Steve Gilliard, even if he might not use it himself.

Steve's love of a good argument, his clear love of Jen and their culinary adventures, his passion for getting at the unvarnished truth and his desire to share that truth with his readers, and, most inherently, in everything he writes, Steve's love of New York City as a place to think about and debate the news of the day: all these are clear to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

To which we, his readers, might add.

We love you, Steve. Get well soon.


  • Update: May 2007

    Jen is reporting that Steve is not doing so well.

    Sobering news. Steve we're all thinking of you.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 1:04 PM  

  • Hey KO, a great tribute to SG, I'm so sad that he's no longer with us.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:52 AM  

  • Thanks.

    I'm sad, too.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 10:00 PM  

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