The Left’s attempt to link the Tucson shootings to angry rhetoric (not theirs, of course) was stage one of a broader strategy–what both military men and political strategists refer to as preparing the battlefield. The movement to feign nonpartisanship at the State of the Union address by seating Republicans and Democrats together is another aspect of this stage. At the same time, the Left is moving on to stage two–an effort to cash in on battlefield preparation by attacking specific figures on the right and trying to shut down speech that the Left finds inconvenient.
At the moment, the second most-read article at the New York Times site is this one: “Spotlight From Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats.”
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.”
Let’s pause there for a moment. First of all, Ms. Piven is not a “liberal academic.” By her own description, she is a radical, a leftist and a Marxist. Nor is she merely an academic; she has been a far-left activist for decades. The Times continues:
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.
In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck’s “false accusations” about Ms. Piven.
“Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response,” the group wrote. …
Ms. Piven said in an interview that she had informed local law enforcement authorities of the anonymous electronic threats. …
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. …
The Center for Constitutional Rights said it took exception to the sheer quantity of negative attention to Ms. Piven.
“We are vigorous defenders of the First Amendment,” the center said in its letter to Fox. “However, there comes a point when constant intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods about a person can put that person in actual physical danger of a violent response.” Mr. Beck is at that point, they said.
This is Orwellian on several levels. It is Ms. Piven, not Glenn Beck, who explicitly defends violence, and comes perilously close to advocating it:
Piven was heartened by the recent riots in Greece and England and urged that radicals in America adopt them as a model:
[B]efore people can mobilize for collective action, they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity. They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant. [T]he out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.
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.
As Ms. Piven undoubtedly knows, the Greek riots have been extremely violent, and several people have been murdered. That is the violence that she wants to see here in the United States.
Glenn Beck has pulled back the curtain on this disgraceful specimen by quoting her accurately. No one has identified any statements he has made about Piven that are incorrect, or claims that he has in any way threatened her. Unlike Piven, Beck is a staunch opponent of political violence. But the mis-named Center for Constitutional Rights–another Orwellian touch–thinks there is such a thing as too much free speech. They want Fox News to shut Beck up because of the “sheer quantity” of Beck’s references to Piven.
Anyone who engages in public debate and achieves any level of notoriety is likely to receive threats. (I assume Piven’s statements in this regard are truthful; the Times offered no details.) We have been threatened with violence a number of times. I doubt that there is a single member of Congress who has never received threats. Until now, those threats, almost none of which are serious, have generally been disregarded. But the Left now thinks it can put them to use as a means of either silencing or discrediting those whose arguments they cannot rebut.