22 January 2011

Beck's Campaign Against Francis Fox Piven (2)

As a follow up on my earlier post, it is important to note that Glenn Beck is not obsessed just with decades old essays by Francis Fox Piven. He takes exception too to her other writings, especially those in which she endorses collective action on the part of the disenfranchised, the poor, the unemployed.

You can find one of Piven's recent essays, one in which she calls for mass protests of the unemployed, here in The Nation. Beck claims he denounces violence left, right and center. Where in the essay does Piven call for violence? Where does she claim that the protests she proposes will overthrow what Beck calls "our system"? Indeed, she explicitly remains agnostic about the stability of American capitalism. And she proposes local protests as a strategy for mitigating the hardships of the unemployed regardless of what one thinks on that larger issue. Beck seems not to be able to read terribly well. He is simply worried terribly about political protests. Protesters can be "unruly" (Piven's word) and obstreperous and confrontational without being violent. Is that too difficult for Beck and his listeners to understand? Is it too difficult for Beck and his listeners to understand that when 'politics as usual' is not working for them, those who are enduring hardship have a right to collective action? Perhaps so.

Which of the following protest movements might Beck find objectionable? The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who have been protesting in Buenos Aries since the early 1980s? (After all the mothers initially made contact in various government offices as they tried to find their "disappeared" children. And they arguably contributed to the collapse of dictatorship in Argentina.) The delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party who raised a ruckus at the 1964 Democratic Convention? (You remember Fannie Lou Hamer talking back bluntly to the politicos?) The striking Sanitation Workers in Memphis in 1968? (After all these were public sector workers protesting against inhumane - indeed lethal - working conditions.) The Polish trade Unionists in Solidarity or the churchgoers who flowed from services in Leipzig to occupy public space and protest Communism? (After all these were peaceful mass protests aimed, yes, at undermining the legitimacy of a regime that was not addressing the needs of common people.) The activists from ACT-UP who in the 1980s (among other things) took over government offices to protest a regulatory regime that was literally killing people with AIDS? (After all they were aiming to make government regulation effective in the face of corporate profit-making and bureaucratic sclerosis.) The protesters at (among other similar events) the 2001 G8 Meetings in Genoa? (After all, these people have diverse views about how the world economy should operate that their elected (and unelected!) leaders systematically neglect.)

It would be easy enough to multiply examples. One final point to note. In each instance I have mentioned here, any violence came disproportionately, indeed almost exclusively, from the government not the governed. Glenn Beck claims to be attentive to history. Maybe not so much.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

The self professed "rodeo clown" and multimillionaire who, "could care less about the political process," is anything but ignorant. This guy knows exactly what he's doing. A bully yes, ignorant- far from it. He incites people with his right wing antics, and after he lathers them up into a fevered frenzy, tells them all with a wink and a nod to behave themselves. In a logical country (let alone ideal or lawful) he would have been shut down for his hate mongering after Byron Williams repeatedly quoted him after his CA shootout with cops on his way to his interrupted assassination plot of a previous Glenn Beck hate target.

Most of these Right Wing pundits know exactly what they're doing- appealing to people's baser instincts does not take all that much. The KKK did it successfully for a century. Now it's just a more show biz, tongue in cheek, brand name approach. They're the wrestling stars extraordinaire of the pseudo-rhetorical airwaves- and they're laughing, fuming and pontificating all the way to the bank in their costumed suits and ties.


23 January, 2011 13:02  

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