Glenn Beck’s Dangerous Obsession With Frances Fox Piven

By Steve Rendall

In addition to his repeated murder fantasies, Glenn Beck harbors apocalyptic fantasies of mass death–suggesting, for instance, that if the direction of the country doesn’t change,  “God will wash this nation with blood.” (Barack Obama, are you listening?) But the Fox News host harbors many deranged obsessions.

He has long obsessed over Frances Fox Piven, the 78-year-old distinguished professor at the City University of New York. Central to Beck’s lies about Piven is the charge that a Nation article she co-wrote with Richard Cloward in 1966 somehow holds the blueprint for a violent leftist takeover of the United States. Beck’s similar fascination with the supposed threat posed by the Tides Foundation apparently led one of his fans to attempt an armed assault on the organization (FAIR Blog, 7/22/10).

Beck’s supposed anti-violence pledge, issued in the wake of the Tucson massacre, contains a bizarre equation of Piven with a violent paramilitary cult under indictment for plotting the wholesale murder of police officers:

I denounce violent threats and calls for the destruction of our system–regardless of their underlying ideology–whether they come from the Hutaree Militia or Frances Fox Piven.

Needless to say, equating Piven’s advocacy of grassroots democratic political activism with terrorism-based revolution is hardly an effective way to discourage violence. Unsurprisingly, some Beck followers have taken his demented fulminations a step further, posting death threats against Piven in the comment section of his website, the Blaze. As Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman recounted on her January 14 program:

On December 31, 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.

User name SUPERWRENCH4 wrote, quote, “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas [sic] ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back. Taking Her life and any who would enslave My children and grandchildren and call for violence should meet their demise as They wish. George Washington didn’t use His freedom of speech to defeat the British, He shot them,” unquote.

Another reader wrote on Glenn Beck’s website, quote, “We should blowup Piven’s office and home. And while at it. Keel haul Bernardine Dohrn under one of her freedom ships and blow up Bill Ayers’ house cars and anywhere he can be found,” unquote.
And a user who goes by the name GREEN_MANALISHI wrote, quote, “I’m all for violence and change Francis, where do your loved ones live?” unquote.

Despite the overt threats, Glenn Beck has not removed any of the messages from his site, even though readers of the Blaze are encouraged to highlight troublesome posts.

In Tucson last week, shooting victim James Eric Fuller was arrested after exclaiming “you’re dead” to a Tea Party activist who was criticizing gun control at a post-massacre forum. So apparently the laws against making violent threats still apply to some people.

UPDATE: Last June (6/10), Glenn Beck’s demonization of progressives took an eliminationist turn when he told his Fox News audience that “radicals”– he named Code Pink’s Jody Evans, environmental and civil rights activist Van Jones, University of Wisconsin professor Joel Rogers, progressive strategist Jeff Jones and labor leader Andy Stern–ought to be “shot in the head” by Democrats instead of being courted by them.

Addressing Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, about American “radicals” and “revolutionaries,” Beck said:

You’ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.

They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them–they’re revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.

Here is my advice when you’re dealing with people who believe in something that strongly–you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say.

Of course, there is no danger that Pelosi or other Democratic leaders will take Beck’s demented words to heart. The danger is that Beck devotees are being told by their hero that these dangerous progressives, who may be homicidal themselves, are worthy of assassination. It wouldn’t be the first or second time a Beck devotee took murderous action.

Note that Beck’s words were in dead earnest. Without a hint of irony, Time magazine’s civility panelist called for Democrats to assassinate American political activists.

Steve Rendall is FAIR’s senior analyst and co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR’s national radio show.



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