Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Marxist Barbara Ehrenreich Exploits Arizona Shooting in Latest Smear on Glenn Beck

It's more Arizona blood libel, from Barbara Ehrenreich, at the Los Angeles Times, "A Call to Protest Ignites a Call to Arms."

Barbara Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich commits a classic ecological fallacy by highlighting what she admits is but "dozens" of abusive comments from Glenn Beck's The Blaze website --- comments that have not only been removed, but also repudiated by Beck repeatedly --- to smear the right as gun-addled "Americans" on the verge of committing massacre:
Why are Americans such wusses? Threaten the Greeks with job losses and benefit cuts and they tie up Athens, but take away Americans' jobs, 401(k)s, even their homes, and they pretty much roll over. Tell British students that their tuition is about to go up and they take to the streets; American students just amp up their doses of Prozac.

The question has been raised many times in the last few years, by a variety of scholars and commentators -- this one included -- but when the eminent social scientist Frances Fox Piven brought it up at the end of December in an essay titled "Mobilizing the Jobless," all hell broke loose. An editor of Glenn Beck's website,, posted a piece sporting the specious headline "Frances Fox Piven Rings in the New Year by Calling for Violent Revolution," and, just two weeks before the Tucson shootings, the death threats started flying. Many of the most provocative comments have been removed from the site's comment section, but at one time they included such charming posts as: "Bring it on biotch [sic]. we're armed to the teeth." Or: "We're all for violence and change, Francis [sic]. Where do your loved ones live?"

If the dozens of Beck fans rhetorically brandishing their weapons at Piven were all CEOs, bankers, hedge fund operators and so forth -- i.e., the kind of people who have the most to lose from mass protests by the unemployed -- all this might make more sense. But somehow, and I may be naive about these things, it's hard to imagine a multimillionaire suggesting that "folks buy battle carbines with folding or collapseable [sic] stocks and 16[-inch] barrels so they can be more easily hidden under jackets and such. Also, buy in NATO-approved calibers (5.56/.223, 7.62/.308) so you can resupply ammo from the bodies of your enemies too." One of Piven's would-be assassins even admits to being out of work, a condition he or she blames, oddly enough, on Piven herself, adding that "we should blowup [her] office and home."

So perhaps economically hard-pressed Americans aren't wusses after all. They may not have the courage or the know-how to organize a protest at the local unemployment office, which is the kind of action Piven urged in her December essay, but they stand ready to shoot the first 78-year-old social scientist who suggests that they do so.
It goes on like this for a while. Erhenreich focuses on guns. Beck's commenters are allegedly obsessed with guns, and for Erhenreich, that logically takes us to the most obviously conclusion: Yep, the Giffords shooting. You guessed it. Here's this from the conclusion:
Never mind that there are only a few ways you can use a gun to improve your economic situation: You can hock it. You can deploy it in an armed robbery. Or you can use it to shoot raccoons for dinner.

But there is one thing you can accomplish with guns and coarse threats about using them: You can make people think twice before disagreeing with you. When a congresswoman can be shot in a parking lot and a professor who falls short of Glenn Beck's standards of political correctness can be, however anonymously, targeted for execution, we have moved well beyond democracy -- to a tyranny of the heavily armed.
Where to begin?

Going back to the essay we find that Ehreneich's basically rewriting the storyline. Frances Fox Piven didn't just call for protests against the "the local unemployment office," as Ehrenreich suggests. No, Piven called for "Greek-style" protests in response to the austerity measures adopted by European governments. These are protests that got people killed, most notably bank clerk Angeliki Papathanasopoulou, who was murdered along with her unborn baby and two other colleagues when protesters attacked with firebombs (see, "
Greek tragedy: how last phone call by murdered bank clerk touched off backlash").

Ehrenreich is a Marxist and Honorary Chairwoman of the Democratic Socialists of America. It makes perfect sense that she'd offer a blatantly dishonest defense of fellow Marxist Frances Fox Piven. We've had this debate for weeks now. The progressives crossed a moral line with Arizona, in the words of James Taranto, and with the Glenn Beck backlash as well.

Glenn Reynolds cites Ehreneich's article, and then clarifies about Piven's advocacy:
Hooded protesters. Molotov cocktails. Three dead by fire, four hospitalized. This is Piven’s idea of a proper “people’s movement.” This is the kind of violence she was advocating. This is what she’d like to see happening in America, to Americans. And this is what her allies are trying to minimize, or distract attention from, by making false accusations aimed at innocent parties. Just for the record.