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Why Is Glenn Beck Obsessively Targeting Progressive Visionary Frances Fox Piven?

Piven explains bizarre attacks Fox News' Beck has leveled at her for over a year.

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AMY GOODMAN: The issue of Glenn Beck and violence and the other things that he has said or the images of pouring gasoline on someone on the show?

JOHN HAMILTON: Right. Well, we titled the piece “Progressive Hunter,” and that’s taken from a line that Glenn Beck used on one of his programs. And he said, “’Til the day I die, I’m going to be a progressive hunter.” He said he was going to be like "the Israeli Nazi hunters." “I’m going to find these big progressives, and 'til the day I die, I’m going to be a progressive hunter. I'm going to find these people that have done this to our country and expose them.”

Now, he says he’s going to expose them. He’s not advocating violence. But when you liken liberals and progressives in America to Nazis and saying you’re going after them like an Israeli Nazi hunter, when you raise your level of rhetoric to that point, and you have an audience like Byron—people like Byron Williams are watching this—it’s unsurprising that we get these incidents.

AMY GOODMAN: That was John Hamilton. He had done the interview with Byron Williams in the jail.

Professor Frances Fox Piven, you are raised continually by Glenn Beck, this week, a number of times since the shooting. These death threats are on his website, "The Blaze." Your address is online. Your picture, he puts up all the time. Are you afraid right now?

FRANCES FOX PIVEN: I’m certainly unnerved, uneasy. "Afraid," I think, is a little bit too strong because, you know, I feel relatively surrounded by friends and benign people. But, yeah, I’m unnerved. And people should not have to—there’s no place for this kind of verbal violence and verbal intimidation in a society, particularly when we have a number of instances where what were verbal and rhetorical abuses became real.

AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, there are divisions in the right. I want to turn to a final clip, and that is of Joe Scarborough, the co-host of the MSNBC show Morning Joe. He’s a former Republican congressman from Florida.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I have a lot of family members and friends that listen to him and watch him and are frightened by the things that he says every night with the chalkboard, where they really—people that watch him and listen to other people that constantly say Barack Obama is a racist, he’s a Marxist, he is changing America forever, he is killing freedom in America—those words have impact. Now, people don’t go out—I’m not talking about people going out—my mom’s not going to go out and shoot somebody. But my mom and a lot of other people like her that watch him every day start to believe, if they hear every day, every day, that there is this guy in Washington, D.C., this black guy that hates all white people, and he wants to take your money—turn the music down—and that he’s a Marxist, and he wants to destroy the country you grew up in—you feed that vile message to Americans every day, it’s going to have an impact.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Joe Scarborough of MSNBC show Morning Joe, talking about the effect of Glenn Beck. Final comments, Frances Fox Piven?

FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Well, I think that we haven’t given enough attention to and enough importance to what is really a very dominant propaganda network that has developed in this country. It is painful. There are different components to it. You can trace its beginnings in some of the Republican strategy—strategists of the late 1960s, who were trying to win over the working class by playing on the cultural divisions in the United States. It’s hard for people to understand what’s going on in a complicated society. Democracy requires that people have some understanding of what’s going on, of what their own interests are, who their enemies are. But it’s a very complicated society. And moneyed propagandists have taken advantage of that to create a demonology in which it is the left, the Democratic left, that is the source of many of our troubles. And this is the most frightening development, rather than the kind of nutty death threats that you read a couple of. It’s a very alarming development, because it raises the question of whether a democracy can survive and reemerge with any kind of health in the face of these enormous propaganda capacities. And in that sense, it is Murdoch, not Beck, who is the more important target.

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