Through the Looking Glass Darkly
After reading Richard Kim’s “The Mad Tea Party” [April 12], I saw the light and converted to Teabaggerism. Has anyone noticed that the monogram for “Cloward-Piven” is “CP,” the same as for “Communist Party”? And that the reverse, “PC,” is the same as for “political correctness”? And that their article was published in 1966, which, of course, contains the number of the Antichrist, with the first 6 diabolically disguised as a 9? I eagerly await a Fox “News” offer of my very own show.
If you combine the first three letters of “Cloward” and the last three of “Piven,” you get “cloven”!
Frances Fox Piven is a target precisely because her work has always supported democratic politics from below. She has devoted a lifetime of scholarship to studying how ordinary people, particularly poor people, fight for social change to improve their lot in life. Case studies she has researched over several decades on the Revolutionary era and the abolitionist, labor, 1930s unemployed workers’, welfare rights and civil rights movements all underscore a basic truth: people can redress the imbalance of power and wealth in our society when they organize and disrupt business as usual. That’s the last thing Glenn Beck et al. want Americans to realize, and it helps explain why they are working overtime to offer a counternarrative.
I worked for Richard Cloward at Mobilization for Youth in 1966 and was there at the creation of the “Strategy to End Poverty.” Were Cloward and Piven radicals? You bet, but so was everybody–from the poverty lawyers to school activists (remember Ocean Hill-Brownsville?) to housing advocates and right on down. For God’s sake, it was the ’60s!
At no time did Cloward and Piven consider welfare rights a brief against capitalism, and you’d have to be a lunatic to consider what they were doing to be out of the mainstream. Compare the peaceful and orderly welfare rights movement with the Harlem, Watts, Newark and Detroit riots.
I am astounded at the sudden infamy of Cloward and Piven (which Dick would have loved; Frances was always the more practical of the two). To suggest that what the community organizers were doing to help the poor was sinister, unpatriotic or intended to bring down the pillars of our country through disruption is a barbaric misreading of a nation in what was arguably its most creative, if not the messiest, period of the last half of the twentieth century.