Why Is Glenn Beck Obsessively Targeting Progressive Visionary Frances Fox Piven?
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AMY GOODMAN: That’s Stanley Kurtz on Glenn Beck’s show, author the book Radical-in-Chief. Frances Fox Piven, your response?
FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Well, that’s nutty. It really is. I regard Barack Obama as a centrist, a person who has been trying very hard to find common ground between the right and the Democratic Party. In many ways, I think that he has disappointed his own followers in that process. This is—it’s bizarre. It’s as bizarre as Glenn Beck saying that the contemporary left owes its—that one of its ancestors is Woodrow Wilson, another—an important president of the United States and one who was a very mild reformer.
I think it’s also crazy to call me a commie, a socialist, a revolutionary or whatever. I think I’m a democrat. I think that all of my work has been devoted to remedying the flaws, the distortions in American democracy. If you go back to the first project that I worked on politically, which is what the—it’s where the article comes from about the—which they call a conspiracy to crash America. That article didn’t call for crashing anything, except the existing welfare system. It proposed that people on the left help poor people in the cities get their full benefits from welfare. Now, at the time, welfare was denying benefits to over half of the people that were eligible. It’s doing that again now. But the article helped inspire—it helped inspire an effort by poor people, many of them people of color, in the cities to get the benefits that they were entitled to from welfare. Now, you can disagree with that effort, but it’s not crashing the system.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, in fact, I remember, because I think I told you earlier in the show, in the summer of 1967, I took a course with Richard Cloward when I was a college undergraduate, where he had just—was expounding this theory. And he saw it more—both of you saw it more as a means to achieve, what, a guaranteed national income for Americans and really as a means to begin having more income—less income inequality in the country, not as a—I don’t remember it all, and in rereading the article, it wasn’t espousing any armed overthrow of the government. It was just saying this is a way that the poor can begin to be felt in American society. It seems to me that the bigger impact of your work, even more than that, was the book that you and Richard wrote, Why Americans Don’t Vote, which really laid bare the class composition of the American electorate and urged voter registration in a massive way, led, I think, to the motor voter laws in many states, where governments began to actively register people to vote. Maybe that was the fear, that Beck and his—I guess his tutors have, that you were able to really influence the ability of more of the poor to get registered to vote and to participate in the electoral process.
FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Which is, of course, a democratic principle. Democracy rests on inclusive participation and inclusive voting by an entire population. And so, it’s so strange, really, that efforts of this kind can be characterized as violent and bloody revolution.
AMY GOODMAN: On December 31st, Glenn Beck’s website, "The Blaze," published an article titled "Frances Fox Piven Rings in the New Year by Calling for Violent Revolution." In response to that article, several readers posted direct death threats to Piven. A user named JST1425 wrote, quote, "be very careful what you ask for honey... As I mentioned in previous posts…ONE SHOT…ONE KILL! 'We The People' will need to stand up for what is right…a few well placed marksmen with high powered rifles…then there would not be any violence," unquote.