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Glenn Beck Target Frances Fox Piven Gets Death Threats

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The Huffington Post   First Posted: 01/21/11 01:53 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

A campaign has begun to defend a longtime professor and activist from the frequent attacks of Glenn Beck—and the death threats that the attacks have brought with them.

Frances Fox Piven, a 78-year-old professor and political theorist, has been the subject of harsh criticism by Beck for years. Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights has written a letter to Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News, asking for his "immediate help in stopping false accusations by Glenn Beck that are putting Professor Piven in danger."

Beck has cast Piven—who is now a professor at the City University of New York—and her late husband, fellow academic Richard Cloward, as the architects of the economic crisis and key influences behind what Beck sees as Barack Obama's drive to break down and radically transform the American government.

In one broadcast, Beck described Piven and Cloward as "the people who you would say are fundamentally responsible for the unsustainability and possible collapse of our economic system." Piven is also a frequent target on Beck's news site, The Blaze; one headline on a recent article reads, "Frances Fox Piven Rings In The New Year By Calling For Violent Revolution."

As recently as Monday, Beck devoted over seven minutes of his TV show to Piven, repeatedly calling her an "enemy of the Constitution" due to an article she wrote for The Nation in which she praised the demonstrations and civil disobedience that occurred in Britain and Greece in the past few months.

He also included her in a pledge that he asked members of Congress to sign following the Arizona shootings. In it, he compared her to a violent, far-right militia whose members are now in jail for conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.

"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," Beck's statement read.

The main source of Beck's continued ire is an article Piven and Cloward wrote in 1966, which called for a movement to overwhelm the public welfare rolls in an effort to bring about a guaranteed national income.

Since then, Piven has remained a high-profile political sociologist. She was a chair of the American Sociological Association and was instrumental in getting a law passed which allowed people to register to vote at DMV's. In the past few years, though, she has received multiple death threats as a result of Beck's attacks on her, as she told The Progressive magazine:

"I got e-mails that said, 'Die You C-nt,' and 'May cancer find you soon.' And people are posting my address on the Internet with their messages that are really crude and ugly and violent."

In its letter, the Center for Constitutional Rights ran through some of the violent comments that readers of The Blaze have left on articles about Piven. They include:

"Maybe they should burst through the fron door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow's throat."

"We should blow up Piven's office and home."

"Big lots is having a rope sale I hear, you buy the rope and I will hang the wench. I will spin her as she hangs."

CCR asked Ailes to "order Mr. Beck to cease and desist."

Watch Piven respond to Beck's campaign against her on 'Democracy Now!':

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