The desiccated feminist, Barbara Ehrenreich, poses this question in an op-ed in today's LA Times:
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.
Naturally, she has an answer. Too many guns. And the wrong people have them.
Ehrenreich apparently came to this conclusion by reading a handful of comments on Glenn Beck's The Blaze website in which Ehrenrich's buddy, or whatever, fellow socialist Frances Fox Piven is called out for advocating violent demonstrations.
Ehrenreich and Piven claim, naturally, that nothing of the kind was advocated but any reading of the article in question reveals The Blaze to be right and Ehrenreich and Piven to be liars of the most odious sort. What Piven advocates is the Obama Administration creating street mobs to press his agenda.
So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent. Working people are losing their homes and their pensions while robber-baron CEOs report renewed profits and windfall bonuses. Shouldn't the unemployed be on the march? Why aren't they demanding enhanced safety net protections and big initiatives to generate jobs?
Mass protests might change the president's posture if they succeeded in pressing him hard from his base, something that hasn't happened so far in this administration. But there are obstructions to mobilizing the unemployed that would have to be overcome.
A loose and spontaneous movement of this sort could emerge. It is made more likely because unemployment rates are especially high among younger workers. Protests by the unemployed led by young workers and by students, who face a future of joblessness, just might become large enough and disruptive enough to have an impact in Washington. There is no science that predicts eruption of protest movements. Who expected the angry street mobs in Athens or the protests by British students? Who indeed predicted the strike movement that began in the United States in 1934, or the civil rights demonstrations that spread across the South in the early 1960s? We should hope for another American social movement from the bottom—and then join it.
Now that a couple of crazy old socialists would advocate a violent overthow of the government isn't really news. And that they would romanticize things like the recent riots in Greece that involved masked vandals, molotov cocktails, and innocent people burned to death if par for the course for an ideology that supported Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.
What is news is that Ehrenreich rewrites much of American history and in the process manages to blame the people suffering most from the Obama Depression for the shooting of Representative Gifford (I had really thought we were beyond that point) and for suppressing The Revolution.
If you aren't an addled feminist you're probably going to be rather surprised at the history of social movements that Ehrenreich and Piven have managed to construct. According to them:
During the depression of 1892 to 1896, unemployed workers marched to Washington by the thousands in what was then the largest mass protest this country had seen. In 1932, even more jobless people -- 25,000 -- staged what was, at that time, the largest march on Washington, demanding public works jobs and a hike in the inheritance tax. From the '60s to the '80s, Americans marched again and again -- peacefully, nonviolently and by the hundreds of thousands -- for civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, economic justice and against wars. In fact, this has been a major focus of Piven's scholarly work over the years — the American tradition of protest and resistance to economic injustice -- and it's a big enough subject to keep hundreds of academics busy for life.
Well, yes and no.
Virtually all of the mass movements discussed above had a violent component that made the "non-violent" part seem both reasonable and acceptable. The notable exception is the suffrage movement which was peaceful. In some cases, for instance the labor movement, the violence was at least on par with the nonviolent part. The only time American bombers have deliberately bombed American citizens was at Blair Mountain in 1921. You can't discuss intelligently discuss the civil rights movement and not discuss the race riots in Watts and Detroit and the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is impossible to discuss the antiwar movement and ignore the violent nature of campus riots and the existence of the Weather Underground.
How Ehrenreich jumps from garden variety historical revisionism to:
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.
is nothing short of breathtaking.
I don't intend to re-argue the Giffords shooting because the facts are well established. Suffice it to say that Ehrenreich's statement marks her as a cretin without even a vestigial sense of shame. As to the professor being targeted for execution, even if one reads the comments she selectively lifts from Beck's website in the worst possible light no one is threatened much less "targeted for execution."
One has to ask who, exactly, does Ehrenreich think listens to Glenn Beck or comments on The Blaze? Venture capitalists? Millionaires? Wall Street robber barons? Or do you think these are the people who actually made the labor and civil rights movements in this country a success.
If Piven feels like it is a good idea for the administration, or someone acting at the administration's behest, to create astroturf mobs to intimidate the people -- those in and out of government -- opposed to our slide into socialism then it would seem that those people would have a common law right to defend themselves.
In truth, Piven's essay was nothing more than the masturbatory fantasy of an aging communist who has lived to see her entire life's work repudiated. She's bitter at the idiots who denied the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and she's can't understand why people with families have better things to do that riot their way to Marxism. There is no evidence, real or anecdotal, that there is a mass movement in favor of more government out there held in check by Joe Six Pack and his SIG Sauer. The real mass movement, which was carried out 100% non-violently, was the Tea Party Movement which seems to have escaped the attention of both Piven and Ehrenreich.
Ehrenreich has simply tried to glom onto Piven's drivel to create a bit of attention for herself and forestall her precipitous decline into senile irrelevance. She's succeeded. Yay her.