Here is Frances Fox Piven, the 78-year-old women currently battling with Glenn Beck.
Beck has lately been focusing (or re-focusing) on Piven as the root of great evil because of a paper she wrote back in the sixties with her husband Richard Cloward titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” and — more recently — for an article she penned for the Nation about mobilizing the jobless where she remarked that “an effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union.”
Beck apparently took this quote to mean that Piven was calling for riots — presumably, if that were actually the case (a closer reading reveals it’s really not a call so much as a theory), she would be doing so in a slightly more widely read publication than the Nation — and he has spent some time on his show railing against her in much the same way he has previously railed against Van Jones, except less.
Piven, by way of the centre for Constitutional Rights who wrote a letter of complaint to Fox News, revealed this week that all this attention, plus the accompanying posts on the Blaze.com, have resulted in death threats against her.
In an article at the Progressive she says “people are posting my address on the Internet with their messages that are really crude and ugly and violent” and goes on to quote some of these anonymous threats:
“Be very careful what you ask for honey…A few well placed marksmen with high powered rifles…”
“Maybe they should burst through the front door of the arrogant elitist and slit the cow’s throat.”
“Somebody tell Frances I have 5,000 rounds ready.”
“We should blow up Piven’s office and home.”
“Let’s go string her up.”
A cynical person better accustomed to life on the anonymous blogosphere might respond by saying welcome to the Internet, Professor Piven (doubly so because you’re a woman!), but no doubt these threats sound very scary when you are the target — even more so if you are a 78-year-old woman whose interaction with the reading public up until this point has been through the filter of a print magazine (let alone one like The Nation). Talk about media whiplash. This is not to imply that death threats should ever be taken lightly; they shouldn’t. But someone needs to tell this poor woman to quit reading the comments section.
Also? If these comments are actually getting posted, someone at the Blaze needs to invest in a better filtering system, or at least an intern.
This is all by way of saying that Piven was on Cenk Uygur‘s new 6pm show on MSNBC (he got temporarily/permanently bumped there by Keith’s departure) last night. Said Piven when asked about all the attention Beck has been showering on her:
I thought it was funny at the beginning and gradually over time I’ve come to see it as something really important, really insidious, and very scary that’s going on in the political forums of the country. A lot of people are listening to Glenn Beck and they are listening to these very strange very paranoid stories.
And then this.
It’s really so strange that someone could enlarge it and make it an explanation for why the housing market collapsed, for why the financial market collapsed, why Barack Obama was elected, why George Soros, why, why, why?
Piven is clearly not a regular watcher of Glenn Beck (oh wait, she says that shortly after this quote), a fact which isn’t doing her any favours in this scenario.
Essentially it sounds like she is battling the version of Glenn Beck her students see on the Daily Show and report back to her about. Meanwhile Beck is battling whatever version of Piven he has cobbled together from a 40-year-old academic paper and a month-old blog post on the Nation (imagine the traffic spike over there!).
What remains is mostly this: Doing public verbal battle with a somewhat frail 78-year-old woman you insist on demonizing who then pops up to vaguely argue her case on MSNBC is probably not the smartest strategy Glenn Beck has ever come up with. To put it mildly.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.