Sunday, January 23, 2011

Henry Farrell, GWU Political Scientist, Falsely Attacks Glenn Beck Over Alleged Threats to Frances Fox Piven

Following up on my earlier piece: "New York Times Whitewashes Marxist Revolutionary Frances Fox Piven."

It turns out that George Washington University Political Scientist
Henry Farrell has published a spurious diatribe against Glenn Beck and his programming on Marxist Frances Fox Piven: "Violent Threats Against a Political Scientist." In an essentially dishonest essay, Farrell offers the disclaimer that it would be "causally irresponsible" to link harsh political rhetoric with acts of violence "without good evidence."


Okay. No doubt Farrell's being especially careful here, since progressives were widely rebuked for exploiting --- within minutes --- the Arizona shooting for wicked political gain. Interestingly, though, Farrell builds his argument off the erroneous New York Times article cited at my entry above. (And recall that the Times was the leading mainstream press outlet fomenting blood libel against conservatives after Arizona.) And he then writes:
I have no doubt that Fox News is correct in saying that Beck has never directly called for violence against Piven, if only because we would surely know if he had. But if some crazy person does decide to try to murder Piven, it will probably be caused in large part by the rhetoric of Beck and others like him. If it were not for Beck and other, less successful demagogues, Piven's name would only be familiar to those who read the Nation or who have a historical interest in left wing politics.
Actually, notice how Farrell can't place any responsibility on Glenn Beck or Fox News for specifically and allegedly advocating violence against Francis Fox Piven. He's thus reduced to mere "probabilistic" analysis, which in the jargon of political science means, "frankly, I can't predict squat about this." Farrell then cites an August 2010 Dana Milbank hit-piece at Washington Post. Milbank alleges that "an unemployed carpenter" set off to "kill progressives" in San Francisco after being moved to political violence by Glenn Beck. But Milbank offers not a single piece of evidence for his claims, and includes this disclaimer: "It's not fair to blame Beck for violence committed by people who watch his show." Henry Farrell omits that key sentence at his post. And he then once again throws out a disclaimer to his argument before offering a causal hypothesis attacking Glenn Beck:
It is not a good idea to make broad claims about how an atmosphere of violent rhetoric is causally responsible for this or that specific incident without good evidence. However, where there is good evidence of a more specific causal relationship between particular speech acts, and particular outcomes, it's a very different matter. There is good evidence that Beck's targeting of the Tides Foundation very nearly helped cause a major tragedy. There is also good evidence that his targeting of a political science professor is causing death threats and sundry other forms of nastiness. I hope that Piven doesn't suffer anything worse than the (doubtless pretty horrible) forms of verbal assault that she is now undergoing.
Actually, the only piece of remotely related "evidence" cited at the Milbank essay is a quote from the unemployed carpenter's mother saying her son watched a lot of television. That's it. The rest is pure conjecture, and certainly not any kind of hard data to warrant Farrell's claim that there's "hard evidence" that "Beck's targeting of the Tides Foundation very nearly helped cause a major tragedy." Moreover, there's not much more to Farrell's claim of "good evidence" that Beck is "targeting" Frances Fox Piven. Glenn Beck's a political commentator on a conservative cable outlet. He publishes some of his stuff to his homepage and his political blog, The Blaze. But Farrell is claiming there's a causal relationship between Beck's commentary and hypothesized violence against Piven. This implies a relationship that condition A is the cause of effect B. However, there is no logical reason here to argue that Glenn Beck's own programming (A) would be the cause of violence against Frances Fox Piven (B). The reason, most importantly, as acknowledged by Farrell, is that there's no evidence that Beck has personally called for violence against Professor Piven. So methodologically it can't be said that such an outcome would be determined causally from the broadcasts in a scientifically empirical way. The relationship wouldn't even be true in the probabilistic sense (i.e., drastically reduced degree of predictive accuracy). Farrell's claim rests simply on the fact that Beck frequently reports on Piven's revolutionary agenda. Of course, there are some heated comments at The Blaze website, and there are reports of alleged threatening e-mails. Yet, these cannot be blamed on Glenn Beck, just as the Arizona shooting could not be blamed on Sarah Palin. This is libel. Hostile and threatening comments at online message boards and blog posts are a regular feature of online discourse. And this is to say nothing of secondary variables that could influence potential violence (as in mental instability, like Jared Loughner, who didn't even watch political television or listen to talk radio).

Fact is, Henry Farrell's attack is political and pathetic, just as the unhinged attacks on Sarah Palin after Arizona were political and pathetic. Both are wrong. Both are efforts to delegitimize, marginalize, and silence their targets. It's reprehensible really, especially considering that, indeed, Frances Fox Piven has herself called for revolutionary violence, just last week in fact. As Glenn Reynolds notes, "Praising riots involving Molotov cocktails and people burning to death? Fine. Criticizing a lefty on a cable TV network? Why that’s “hatemongering” and incitement."

Farrell updates his post with a piece from Professor Peter Dreier at Huffington Post, "
Glenn Beck's Attacks on Frances Fox Piven Trigger Death Threats." Dreier repeats the allegations of death threats: "Some of Beck's followers have emailed Piven directly." He then posts a number of comments from The Blaze. But all of this is simply backdrop for what's really going on. Dreier is a radical leftist. He teaches at Occidental College, where he's been described as romanticizing "Socialism and Communism, often ignoring the brutal truth about those economic systems, in order to indoctrinate his students." And further, "The professor doesn't use his course just to brainwash his students into the thrills of Socialism and Communism; he uses his course to routinely demean conservatives."


Here's Dreier describing the right's campaign against Piven and her late husband Richard Cloward, from
the Huffington Post piece:
Conservatives have been attacking their ideas for decades. But the paranoid demonization of the couple by the extreme Right has escalated since Obama's election.

The story they now tell about Piven can be traced to David Horowitz, a former New Left radical who did an about-face in the 1970s and became a prominent conservative propagandist. In his 2006 book, written with Richard Poe, The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party, Horowitz identifies the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" outlined in their 1966 Nation article as the centerpiece of the radical blueprint to "collapse" the capitalist system.

Horowitz's idea caught on with other elements of the conservative lunatic fringe, particularly after an African American former community organizer was elected president. A few weeks after Obama's victory, James Simpson penned an article for the right-wing American Thinker entitled, "Cloward-Piven Government," describing their "malevolent strategy for destroying our economy and our system of government." The right-wing echo chamber has transformed the duo into Marxist Machiavellis whose ideas have not only spawned an interlocking radical movement dedicated to destroying modern-day capitalism but also, in their minds at least, almost succeeded, as evidenced by what they consider Obama's "socialist" agenda.

Conservative radio jockeys Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have, on multiple occasions, warned their listeners about the nefarious social scientists. "The Cloward-Piven strategy is essentially what Obama and a number of these people are following," Limbaugh told his listeners on December 18, 2009, "and its ultimate objective is to have everybody in the country on welfare, by destroying it."

Horowitz, the editor of FrontPage, a far-right magazine and website, called Cloward and Piven the "architects" of "radical change." Other right-wing outlets, including American Spectator, The Washington Times, The American Thinker, Free Republic, NewsMax, and WorldNetDaily, have all educated their audiences about how the Cloward-Piven Strategy has infected society like a dangerous left-wing virus.
It goes on like that for a while, and in fact, it's personal for Dreier. He's an academic radical in the tank for the Democrat Party's socialist/community activist operations. Or as journalist Matthew Vadum indicates, Dreier's an "academic for hire" who "has spent much of the last few years as a paid shill for the organized crime syndicate, ACORN." Dreier wrote a whitewash of ACORN for the American Political Science Association's journal, Perspectives on Politics: "How ACORN Was Framed: Political Controversy and Media Agenda Setting." And as noted at the abstract:
Using the news controversy over the community group ACORN, we illustrate the way that the media help set the agenda for public debate and frame the way that debate is shaped. Opinion entrepreneurs (primarily business and conservative groups and individuals, often working through web sites) set the story in motion as early as 2006, the conservative echo chamber orchestrated an anti-ACORN campaign in 2008, the Republican presidential campaign repeated the allegations with a more prominent platform, and the mainstream media reported the allegations without investigating their veracity ... We demonstrate that the national news media agenda is easily permeated by a persistent media campaign by opinion entrepreneurs alleging controversy, even when there is little or no truth to the story ...
Blah, blah.

It's all a bunch of bull, frankly. As
Vadum remarked about the broader whitewashing campaign, "ACORN’s radical allies are now attempting to rewrite history to cast the organized crime syndicate as victim instead of as the prolific victimizer that it has been ever since it was created in 1970."

And this brings us back to Professor Henry Farrell. It's clear from the foregoing that he's not only making bogus claims against Glenn Beck, but that his own ideological program is working in solidarity with the likes of Peter Dreier and other socialist radicals in the academy. What's pathetic is that Farrell posted his smear at
The Monkey Cage, which was originally launched by the late George Washington Professor Lee Sigelman, a distinguished political scientist and former editor of both the American Political Science Review and American Politics Quarterly. I seriously doubt that Professor Sigelman would have stood for such rank libels as those posted by the dishonest Henry Farrell. But then, I doubt that Professor Sigelman was a communist propagandist either.

In any case, see also Ron Radosh, "Glenn Beck, Frances Fox Piven, and How the New York Times Falsely Depicts the Controversy."


Dennis said...

This too shall pass when it does not have the desired results. The idea is to get those who do not agree with the Left to STFU using any means possible. Some of it is just makes them look bad.
People like Piven and a considerable amount of the Left need anonymity to undermine this country. Anyone who has the nerve to bring them into the light needs to be silenced. I just love the "we love free speech," as long as it says what we want it to say.
One wonders how using their own words and writings is wrong when the Left will take one word out of context from someone like Palin et al and build a whole conspiracy out of it. I suspect that this is more of the Left transferring their desires, actions and wishes on to others.
I have to laugh at how far some of your more Leftist commenter s try to change a narrative they know they are losing. The name calling is priceless and indicative of the frustration of failure felt by them.
Keep up the good work Donald.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Dennis: It just bugs me that "respected" folks like Professor Farrell get away with such bullshit. You gotta call 'em out sometimes.