Professor Goes From Glenn Beck Target To Target Of Death Threats

Sometimes, rhetoric does matter:

On his daily radio and television shows, Glenn Beck has elevated once-obscure conservative thinkers onto best-seller lists. Recently, he has elevated a 78-year-old liberal academic to celebrity of a different sort, in a way that some say is endangering her life.

Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck’s warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.”

Her name has become a kind of shorthand for “enemy” on Mr. Beck’s Fox News Channel program, which is watched by more than 2 million people, and on one of his Web sites, The Blaze. This week, Mr. Beck suggested on television that she was an enemy of the Constitution.

Never mind that Ms. Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

(…)

The interest in Ms. Piven is rooted in an article she wrote with her husband, Richard Cloward, in 1966. The article, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” proposed that if people overwhelmed the welfare rolls, fiscal and political stress on the system could force reform and give rise to changes like a guaranteed income. By drawing attention to the topic, the proposal “had a big impact” even though it was not enacted, Ms. Piven said. “A lot of people got the money that they desperately needed to survive,” she said.

In Mr. Beck’s telling on a Fox broadcast on Jan. 5, 2010, Ms. Piven and Mr. Cloward (who died in 2001) planned “to overwhelm the system and bring about the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with impossible demands and bring on economic collapse.” Mr. Beck observed that the number of welfare recipients soared in the years after the article, and said the article was like “economic sabotage.”

He linked what he termed the Cloward-Piven Strategy to President Obama’s statement late in the 2008 presidential campaign that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Mr. Beck has invoked Ms. Piven dozens of times since. Conservative Web sites, like the ones operated by Andrew Breitbart, have also spent time dissecting her articles and speeches.

That’s the cause, here’s the effect:

The Nation, which has featured Ms. Piven’s columns for decades, quoted some of the threats against her in an editorial this week that condemned the “concerted campaign” against her.

One such threat, published as an anonymous comment on The Blaze, read, “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back.” (The spelling and capitalizing have not been changed.)

That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted, but other comments remain that charge her with treasonous behavior.

Will Beck denounce these threats by his listeners and viewers? Don’t hold your breath.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. In the bowels of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, Count Ugolino, the traitor, gnaws upon the skull of the corpse of his former political ally Ruggieri. Isn’t this an apt metaphor for both today’s Democratic and Republican parties currying the favor of high finance to impose brutal austerity to collect debt. But which party is the better at it? Of course, “debts must be paid by someone,” intones the devil. Who will perform the best as his beloved minion? He or she will have the honor to reside there in the pit of hell next to Satan. Gnawing away for eternity…

  2. Axel Edgren says:

    Coincidence. Just like how it is a coincidence that those democrat HQs were shot at, and that a bomb was found in the path of an MLK parade, or that a hated judge and democrat congresswoman got shot rather than some other public figures.

    But then again, remember that time when a serious, premeditated and civil-grade illegal attack was made on the interests or personas of right-wing people? Oh wait, that hasn’t happened in a long time.

    I’m sure “Boff sides R just as bad”, somehow. God forbid we actually have to use *judgment* and dare to take a stance rather than rely on comfortable, ignorant equivalence.

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    ” “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back.” ”

    I don’t see this as a threat at all but rather a warning to anyone who would try to take our freedom. that there are some who will fight to the death rather than willingly surrender their freedom. Hell, the official motto of New Hampshire is “Live Free of Die”, is this supposed to be some threat too?

    Only a liberal weenie would see this as a threat. Perhaps that’s because they are intent on taking our freedoms.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    The right intends to frighten the left.

    That’s not an accident. The gun worship, the 2d amendment rhetoric, the target maps and “reload” exhortations, the de-Americanization of Obama, the race-baiting, the conspiracy theories, the fear mongering, it’s all part of a blunt strategy of intimidation.

    It’s bullying. In some cases it goes beyond bullying to a sort of thuggery. Had that MLK bomb not been found and disarmed we’d be looking at nascent terrorism. And of course we’ve seen right wing terrorism in OK city and in attacks on abortion clinics. The GOP is setting the table for the sort of things we saw in the 1960’s in the south.

    I don’t know that Beck, Limbaugh, Fox News and the House Republicans intend to create the conditions for domestic terrorism. In fact, I assume they don’t. But they intend to use crude intimidation tactics. They intend to introduce bullying and threats to American politics. That’s not an accident or a byproduct. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    And no, it is not just some fringe. It is the Republican Party.

    They are playing a very reckless, very dangerous game. They’re like the loud cowards in a mob egging each other on, pushing each other to throw the first brick or swing the first club.

  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Oops, I meant “Live Free or Die”

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    The woman has flat advocated the violent overthrow of our system. If you are incapable, Doug, have someone read and interpret what she has written, taught and advocated most of her scholastic life. Read Clower/Piven. I know not what to label them, but they are no friend of liberty. What she incites is banned by federal law. If we had real people in charge in our government, Francis Fox Piven would be behind bars. America will be safer when she breathes her last.

  7. mantis says:

    Professor Goes From Glenn Beck Target to Target of Death Threats

    There’s a difference?

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    You really are a piece of work Doug. Beck does nothing but point out what this enemy of America has been saying and you blame the messenger? I am beginning to believe you are a communist just like those you defend. Only in the little world you operate in would what you spew be tolerated.

  9. Axel Edgren says:

    “The woman has flat advocated the violent overthrow of our system.”

    And republicans want to use the bible to decide that zygotes are worth just as much as grown women and that gays don’t deserve to adopt. So why won’t you tolerate death threats against them?

    And why won’t the lame people who own this website ever ban you? I mean, they know you cannot contribute anything and that your brand of ignorance and lack of honesty doesn’t ever lead to anything amusing, so I am guessing they have been made to be afraid of using their own judgment and scorn (beyond making easy and snotty mockery of your useless posts now and then), due to the judeo-christian, academic and ruinous culoture they have grown up in. Beyond easily condemning obviously nasty language, they are simply afraid of the idea of banning people who cannot contribute anything and are neurologically incapable of writing critically or honestly.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Zels makes my point perfectly. He is exactly the person to fear.

    He knows nothing but what Beck puts in his head. He’s an imbecile, suggestible, credulous, and yet willing to state, America will be safer when she breathes her last.

    On the strength of nothing but what has been placed in his head by a dishonest buffoon, Zels wishes a woman’s death. People like him are the beginning of a mob. He’s the soil in which bullying, and then thuggery, and finally terrorism grow.

    And he is, make no mistake about it, a product of the Republican Party. The inevitable result of the GOP’s recklessness.

  11. Ben Wolf says:

    Zels, you’ve got the best satire i’ve read on a blog.

    I love the way you parody the Right, and I hope you keep going!

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    Zels has to be a parody Michael. No one could possibly be that stone-dumb, credulous and gullible.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Will Beck denounce these threats by his listeners and viewers? Don’t hold your breath.***This is a ridiculous statement.

    But whats new? You should read the mail anyone of the talkers the likes of Beck gets on a daily basis, from LIBERALS!

    And I have had enough of the idiotic liberal hypocrat(should be the new name of the democrat party) talking point regurgitator zombie troops so I won’t even bother with them.

  14. Axel Edgren says:

    “Zels has to be a parody Michael. No one could possibly be that stone-dumb, credulous and gullible.”

    The level of insulation and self-delusion possible grows by leaps and bounds the longer established lies are allowed to accumulate legitimacy. Truth and reality is dictated by marketing skills and accident among the masses, especially in the US. Group-think on a cultural scale – Christianity and Anglo-saxon “proud self-flagellating bumpkin” ethics are largely to blame, but there are other factors.

  15. Tlaloc says:

    America:Oceana::Piven:Goldstein

  16. Concerned Citizen says:

    By Doug Macontis’ own “logic”, he’s responsible for any death threats received by Glenn Beck.
    Will Macontis denounce these threats by his readers? Don’t hold your breath.

  17. Axel Edgren says:

    “By Doug Macontis’ own “logic”, he’s responsible for any death threats received by Glenn Beck.”

    Beck is saying Piven is a threat to the country – that she is doing what the 2nd amendment is designed for, basically. Doug is just saying Beck is a little tosser.

    But this really all is the same to you absolute lumpen, isn’t it? You are living in a level of discourse so separate from reality you honestly believe there are art student Muslim communists trying to kill you, no? You honestly believe you are allowed to have any kind of pathetic feelings and opinions you want without anyone looking down on you for it?

    For decades, a standard republican tactic has been to make more probable violence against people they hate. Republicans don’t cause anti-gay violence and abortion-clinic bombings, but they correlate with such acts, by constantly trying to test how alarmist and dehumanizing their language can get before it starts to backfire on them. Their entire marketing strategy consists of trying to figure out where the line is, so they can toe it and thus scare and dehumanize as many as possible without having to pay for it.

    They would really hate it if, for example, we saw someone kill a union leader or some other person representing a group they are depicting as a real, evil and consciously traitorous group in the US. Why? Because then they would no longer be able to shore up capital and support by lying and screaming about the unions without people realizing they are playing with fire.

    They are not screaming fire in a crowded cinema – but they are constantly saying they have seen certain people carrying matches or hiding the fire extinguishers. They are not accusing these people of anything, but they are consciously building a level of discourse far away from reality and they don’t really care about the people who get hurt.

    Now, what I am saying is that my enemies correlate with bad things. But they don’t cause them. Beck and the other desert-dwellers (oh do shut up, I am right once again and you know it) are saying their enemies cause bad things. Bit of a difference.

    Wait, am I trying to educate American “libertarians” in philosophy and ethics? TIME FOR BED.

  18. Concerned Citizen says:

    “TIME FOR BED”

    Wow. More like “time for your medication.”

  19. An Interested Party says:

    “By Doug Macontis’ own ‘logic’, he’s responsible for any death threats received by Glenn Beck.”

    Umm, no…where did Doug ever talk about Beck in the same way that Beck talked about Piven?

  20. Concerned Citizen says:

    “Umm, no…where did Doug ever talk about Beck in the same way that Beck talked about Piven?”

    What specifically did Beck say about Piven that was out of bounds? He seems to have merely criticized her publicly expressed opinions. How specifically does that differ from what Macontis did, or what bloggers generally do?

  21. michael reynolds says:

    Concerned:

    Why don’t you let us know when Mataconis or any part of OTB comes close to this:

    On the afternoon of January 6, Frances Fox Piven, a distinguished professor, legendary activist, writer and longtime contributor to this magazine, received an e-mail from an unknown correspondent. There was no text, just a subject line that read: DIE YOU CUNT. It was not the first piece of hateful e-mail Piven had gotten, nor would it be the last. One writer told her to “go back to Canada you dumb bitch”; another ended with this wish: “may cancer find you soon.”

    Piven was unnerved but not surprised. These are not pretty e-mails, but they appear positively decorous compared with what has been written about her by commentators on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze,where she’s been the target of a relentless campaign to demonize her—and worse. There, under cover of anonymous handles, scores of people have called for Piven’s murder, even volunteering to do the job with their own hands. “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas [sic] ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back,” wrote superwrench4. “ONE SHOT…ONE KILL!” proclaimed Jst1425. “The only redistribution I am interested in is that of a precious metal…. LEAD,” declared Patriot1952. Posts like these are interwoven with ripples of misogyny, outbursts of bizarre anti-Semitism and crude insults about Piven’s looks (she’s actually a noted beauty) and age (she’s 78).

    http://www.thenation.com/article/157900/glenn-beck-targets-frances-fox-piven

  22. michael reynolds says:

    Glen Beck preaches one conspiracy theory on top of another. He preaches paranoia. He distorts and lies and deliberately incites.

    He constructs an alternate reality — a lie — and preaches a constant diet of irrationality and fear to an audience of credulous imbeciles.

    It’s dangerous. It is intended to be dangerous because in Beck’s case “danger” is power and money. The comments above are from Beck’s own blog. Let me tell you that if I was sitting here in comments suggesting murder I think James would shut me down pretty damn fast.

    And before you tell me it’s just talk:

    In July, Williams, a convicted bank robber, put on a suit of body armor and got in a car with a 9-mm handgun, a shotgun and a .308 caliber rifle equipped with armor-piercing bullets and set off for San Francisco. His destination was the Tides Foundation, which had been mentioned at that point in at least twenty-nine episodes of the Glenn Beck show, sometimes along with Piven. His goal, as he later told police, was to kill “people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU” in order to “start a revolution.” Williams’s mother said that he had been watching TV news and was upset at “the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing-agenda items.” Or, as Williams himself put it, “I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.” California Highway Patrol officers pulled Williams over for driving erratically and, after a firefight, subdued and arrested him before he could blow anyone else’s mind away.

  23. Axel Edgren says:

    Fact: The people to the right of the democrats are less capable of dealing with democratic victories than the other way around. Yeah yeah, boff sieds r badd and all that, but not equally so.

  24. Jay Tea says:

    Piven praised the riots in Greece and England against government austerity measures, riots that led to several murders (I recall a pregnant woman dying in a torched Greek bank), and called for Americans to use those as role models for actions here in the US. She is a self-styled radical, Marxist, and has called for violent revolution in the US.

    And Beck is some horrible person because he quoted her accurately?

    I don’t pay much attention to Beck, but unless he’s either 1) misquoted her or 2) explicitly called for people to harm her, I don’t see the problem.

    Piven’s complaint isn’t that she’s being misquoted. It’s that she’s being quoted accurately in a manner out of her control, to people she would rather not hear her unguarded statements.

    J.

  25. tom p says:

    >>>The woman has flat advocated the violent overthrow of our system.<<<

    Thank God not even Nevadans were stupid enough to elect her.

  26. Concerned Citizen says:

    michael,

    “Why don’t you let us know when Mataconis or any part of OTB comes close to this: ..:

    That wasn’t said by Beck. Can’t you read? I asked , “What specifically did Beck say about Piven that was out of bounds?”

    “Glen Beck preaches one conspiracy theory on top of another. He preaches paranoia. He distorts and lies and deliberately incites.”

    If Beck receives any threats after this, now you will be at least partly responsible, by your own logic.

  27. Concerned Citizen says:

    “Thank God not even Nevadans were stupid enough to elect her.”

    Frances Piven ran for office in Nevada?

  28. Steve Plunk says:

    Attack Beck. Attack ZR. Attack anyone that points out the substance of what Piven wrote, Beck said, and what it means. She advocated violence for progressive causes in an irresponsible manner yet is still respected. Pointing that out is no sin and no one can be responsible for every wing nut comment on the internet.

    As Concerned Citizen says, what did Beck say that was false, incited violence, or was out of bounds in any reasonable manner? That might be something to talk about if it’s there.

  29. michael reynolds says:

    1) There are death threats from commenters on Glen Beck’s site.

    2) Those death threats target a woman Beck has repeatedly attacked.

    3) Beck’s moderators are perfectly capable of taking those threats down, they choose not to.

    4) Beck, seeing the violence he’s eliciting, could go on air and say, “Wait a minute, people, take it way down, this is an American professor, not an enemy.” He chooses not to.

    Conclusion: Beck is knowingly promoting violent rhetoric and violent expressions among his followers.

    Addendum: There is no wat Doug or James would ever allow a similar situation to develop here. So your attempts at, “Oh yeah, you do it to,” are of course wrong and dishonest.

  30. Concerned Citizen says:

    michael,

    Beck’s site has taken down threatening comments. The post you’re commenting on says “That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted”. Are you dishonest or merely illiterate?

    Beck has in fact gone on the air and spoken against violence. Again, the one being dishonest is you.

    As Steve Plunk asked above, “what did Beck say that was false, incited violence, or was out of bounds in any reasonable manner?”

    That question remains unanswered.

  31. Mr. Prosser says:

    @ Concerned CitizenI think Fred Clark Answers your question in a general sense:
    “By pretending to believe that America is on the verge of collapse into a totalitarian tyranny, they can pretend to themselves that they are the vanguard of a courageous resistance. The Red Dawn fantasy isn’t all that different from any other childhood fantasy about what if there were dragons? And what if I was brave and good and strong? And what if I slew the dragon and everybody cheered for me because I was brave and good and strong and I slew the dragon? Wouldn’t that be cool?

    The problem arises when, finding the world sadly devoid of dragons, they decide to invent other monsters with which to do battle — assigning the role of monster to their neighbors, their political opponents, their elected officials. Those People, they say, are monsters, demons, baby-killing Satanists, kitten-burning apologists. They’re evil. They must be stopped.

    This problem is further compounded by the demagogues of talk radio and cable TV who find this timid, fantasy-obsessed demographic to be a lucrative audience. Unlike other listeners or viewers, you can guarantee their loyalty by reminding them that everyone else is a monster and must be avoided. And their obsession with the thrilling fantasy of impending revolution makes it easy to sell them things — to get them to invest in useless, inflated gold coins, for example. They present a con-man’s dream — people who will thank you for ripping them off.

    The con-men and hucksters feeding off of these Red-Dawn fantasists are constantly turning up the volume, turning up the temperature, making the fantasy more and more thrilling by making the imaginary threats more and more extreme.”

  32. Concerned Citizen says:

    @Mr. Prosser, I don’t know who Fred Clark is, but in any case, that quote doesn’t even address my question, let alone answer it.

    Further, you could simply switch a handful of words, and it would apply just as well, if not better, to the left.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    Comments I found just now on Beck’s Blaze in the Piven thread:

    You bring it, sound the signal to start. I have many more rounds than you have “soldiers’ who will riot on MY government.
    And i don’t care about shooting a traitor in the head in defence of MY constitution.
    Just be sure you lead the charge. I have great scopes.

    ***

    She is as ugly on the outside as in the inside. Ugly people are the most likely people to commit crimes. Ugliness often brings about an ugly disposition and in this woman’s case it has gone to the extreme.

    ***

    The reason their plans will fail is the SECOND AMMENDMENT. If they think they are big enough to take my guns, someone will die. It may be me, but to the death I fight. Screw the commie bastards!

    ***

    Signs that the end is coming. It all starts with a one world government, then it will be a world currency, then a world religion. And that‘s when they’ll start forcing people to wear the Mark of the Beast(google Verichip). Be prepared. it’s coming sooner than you think.

    ***

    Is this woman an American citizen or is she still Canadian? I say she should be the first one before the ‘Death Board’ and get a huge thumbs down!

    ***

    Preach it Bro! I am with you 110%. Enough with threats and heavy talk. If revolution is what you want then start it. WE THE PEOPLE (Sheeple excluded) will finish it.

    ***

    Does the First Amendment give someone the right to call for violent revolution against the same Constitution that gives the right of freedom of speach?
    No. That is clearly defined as “treason” in the constitution.
    Do I have the right to defend my Constitution against traitors to her?
    Yes. That is clearly defined in the Oath I took as a Marine.
    I’m not a nutjob, I am just sick of this disruption and vile effort to burn my Constitution down.
    If you had served in the military, you would understand this.

    ***

    Prison? No, traitors are usually executed. The Rosenbergs got fried in the Chair. Hanging is cheaper, and you can reuse the rope.

    I have a Home Depot right up the street from me….

    There are the occasional rational voices:

    You are clearly a nutjob. Let me explain something: just because you took an oath does not mean that you have the right to kill people for exercising their First Amendment rights. Please, stop being so stupid.

    But to pretend that Becks’ followers are anything other than hate-filled, obsessed, paranoid rage-o-holics doesn’t pass the laugh test. Beck is feeding this. And sooner or later these threats will turn real.

  34. Jay Tea says:

    But to pretend that Becks’ followers are anything other than hate-filled, obsessed, paranoid rage-o-holics doesn’t pass the laugh test. Beck is feeding this. And sooner or later these threats will turn real.

    And yet… it hasn’t. The majority of nutjobs who’ve gone on a spree of late have been of decidedly mixed political bent (with a healthy dose of leftism, like the Tucson shooter) or Islamists. No, not all, but the majority.

    That hasn’t kept the left from continuing their drumbeat, in every case hoping praying that this time the nutjob will be a Tea Partier, but… it never is.

    Remember “send the body to Glenn Beck” over the census worker’s staged suicide?

    Remember the guy who flew his plane into the IRS offices in Texas?

    Remember Kos “Sarah Palin: Mission Accomplished” after Tucson?

    I’m kicking around a theory that the “violent rhetoric” is less inciting and more cathartic.

    Of course, that doesn’t fit in with the left’s agenda of getting the right to just shut the hell up and bringing up things they don’t want discussed or examined, but then the left has never been very good at (or fond of) the whole causal thing anyway…

    J.

  35. Concerned Citizen says:

    “… hate-filled, obsessed, paranoid rage-o-holics…”

    Sounds like a description of a lot of people on the left.

    You searched Beck’s site and cherry-picked a few comments, why didn’t you post an answer to my question? When are you going to do that?

  36. Jay Tea says:

    Clearly, michael is of the Charles Johnson “delete anything that might prove embarrassing or reflects poorly on me or in any way conflicts with my beliefs” school of blogging…

    J.

  37. wr says:

    Hey Jay — What about the guy who was caught with a bunch of guns on his way to murder people at the Tides Foundation because Glen Beck said it was evil? Funny how you never mention that guy. Or the man who was so upset because Obama was going to raise his taxes that he murdered a couple of cops.

  38. Concerned Citizen says:

    “What about the guy who was caught with a bunch of guns on his way to murder people at the Tides Foundation because Glen Beck said it was evil? … Or the man who was so upset because Obama was going to raise his taxes that he murdered a couple of cops.”

    It would be equally idiotic to blame Beck for the first guy or Obama for the second.

  39. anjin-san says:

    > It would be equally idiotic to blame Beck for the first guy or Obama for the second

    Well, it would be idiotic to blame Obama for the second, so you are half right.

  40. Concerned Citizen says:

    @anjin-san: Parody? Funny.