Erick Erickson Breaks From Fellow Conservatives With Heartfelt Tribute To Angelou

May 29, 2014 11:13 a.m.

Conservative pundit Erick Erickson paid homage to Maya Angelou on Thursday, expressing a deep admiration for the late poet despite their ideological differences.

“I am pretty sure that Maya Angelou and I would disagree on much politically, but I’d stand still on a hot bed of coals to hear her tell me she disagreed,” Erickson wrote on “I loved her mind and I loved her voice.”

The reaction to Angelou’s death on the right has been all over the place. Conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel disparaged Angelou on Twitter and in a post on her website.

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“Angelou was America’s most overrated crappy writer, all because she was Black . . . and a far-leftist,” Schlussel wrote.

Other conservatives, meanwhile, tried to claim Angelou as one of their own.

National Review Online’s Tim Cavanaugh offered a peculiar obituary on Wednesday, confessing that “Angelou’s writings did not generally keep me up reading all night” but hailing the poet for making money in a field “not known for catapulting its practitioners to megastardom.”

Cavanaugh also emphasized Angelou’s appreciation of firearms, characterizing her as a “Proud Gun Owner and User” in the piece’s headline.

Pro-life activists highlighted Angelou’s essay on her decision to keep her child. Erickson did, too, but most of his essay focused on their differences.

“She supported abortion rights, but she chose life,” Erickson wrote. “Some of her younger contemporaries to whom she would be compared did not and some have seen their children grow up to write their own stories of how their crusading parent put the crusade before the child, not choosing life by other choices.”

He recalled how a “very liberal” college professor recommended that he read Angelou’s award-winning autobiography, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.”

Erickson, who spent much of his young life living in Dubai, said the book helped broaden his understanding of race issues in America.

“She was of the left. I am of the right. But her voice could sing a spoken harmony of words that calmed souls, lit fires, and made the mind dance,” he wrote. “Her voice had strength in it that those of us who might disagree with her on issues could still connect to.”

Erickson added that his time as a contributor at CNN helped him understand that “one can have friendships with those whose life, issues, politics, or values do not align with my own.”

Indeed, Erickson proved himself a loyal supporter to even his left-leaning colleagues at the cable news channel. In 2012, after Democratic strategist and fellow CNN contributor Hilary Rosen found herself in hot water for saying Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life,” Erickson wrote that he found it “bad form to beat up a co-worker” and contended that he had no interest in condemning Rosen “over a poor choice of words.”

Following the Sandy Hook massacre, Erickson defended gun control crusader and former CNN host Piers Morgan from conservatives on Twitter.

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