Sunday, January 30, 2011
FRANCES FOX PIVEN
For reasons known only to himself, the buffoon Glen Beck has chosen to attack Frances Fox Piven, a creative and distinguished voice on the left for half a century, who with her husband Richard Cloward [now deceased] has worked tirelessly for the needs and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable among us. I had the great pleasure of having lunch with Piven forty years ago when I was trying, successfully, to persuade her to contribute an essay to a volume I was editing. Although I have not seen her since, I have always presumed on that brief acquaintance to consider her a friend. There is nothing I can do to stop Beck's attacks [which have led to death threats again this distinguished woman now approaching, as I am, her eighties], but I would be ashamed of myself if I did not at least speak up to defend her and condemn Beck's reckless, wanton, groundless, shameful attacks. It is at times like this that I bemoan my atheism. It would be comforting to believe that Beck and his like will earn an eternity of pain for the evil they spew into the public sphere. Since I am this morning also re-reading the portion of the REPUBLIC on which I shall be lecturing tomorrow, I am inclined to embrace Socrates' conviction that the greatest harm one can suffer is to be made a worse person. There may not be hellfire and damnation awaiting Beck the other side of the grave, but we can be sure that he has already harmed himself more than he and his epigones can ever harm Frances Piven.