Scholars of her caliber, intellectuals of her stature, and especially those who tackle social conflicts and contradictions, mass movements and political action, should stimulate equal levels of serious challenge and creative dialogue. Being called by Glenn Beck one of the “nine most dangerous people in the world,” and an “enemy of the Constitution” is not a credible challenge; it is plain demagoguery.So vigorous debate about Piven's ideas is really important, but it better be the right kind of debate by the right kind of people and most certainly not that terrible, terrible man Glenn Beck. She's very lofty and serious, so, while she should be challenged, she must be challenged only by lofty and serious individuals, and of course, Glenn Beck is not one.
Despite its lack of substance, Beck’s attacks have resulted in a flood of hate mail and internet postings attacking Professor Piven, including a series of death threats. While it is true that death threats are generally only a form of extremist rhetoric, they indicate an overheated emotional atmosphere that researchers on collective violence call “the hysteria zone.” It is a zone in which deranged individuals can be motivated to real violence against those targeted by demagoguery. History tells us that such things as the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords that resulted in six deaths in Tucson, Arizona can be examples of how abundant, polarizing rhetoric by political leaders and commentators can spur mass murder.Does lofty, serious, intellectual sociology involve looking at evidence and analyzing it rationally? Linking the Tucson massacre to hot political rhetoric was a rash mistake made by demagogues — you want to talk about demagogues?! — demagogues who were slavering over the prospect of a right-wing massacre that would prove politically useful.
We call on Fox News to take steps to control the encouragement of violence that has run rampant in recent months.Fox News? And do you also call on The Nation, which published "Mobilizing the Jobless," by Frances Fox Piven, the article Glenn Beck brought to the attention of his large audience? Piven called for riots. She wrote:
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, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees....When did Glenn Beck call for violence? Back to the sociologists' letter of outrage:
Serious and honest, undistorted disagreement and public debate on unemployment, economic crisis, the rights and tactics of welfare recipients, government intervention and the erosion of the American way of life should be supported.Undistorted? Okay, let's see you do it first. The "American way of life"? By that term, do you mean — in an undistorted sort of way — like Greece?
We in no way advocate restricting the freedom of speech of political commentators.... Where we all should draw the line is at name-calling and invective rising to the level of inciting others to violence.So Piven should not have called for "something like" Greek-style riots, and it was good of Glenn Beck to point out that Piven crossed the line, right? I mean, we're dedicating ourselves to serious, undistorted analysis here. That's what you said you wanted, didn't you?