How Frances Fox Piven and Glenn Beck Incited Righteous Indignation in the Academy

Ashley Thorne

Peter Wood has a column on the Piven-Beck controversy in today's Chronicle. He writes:

Beck’s attention to Piven has driven much of the media interest in the story—but also much of the interest among faculty members, a great deal of which has been overheated. Cary Nelson and the American Sociological Association are no exceptions. They call sanctimoniously for “dialogue,” but  ignore the body of scholarly criticism that already exists about Piven’s work. It is hard not to see a flag of convenience in this newfound interest in “serious challenge” and “debate” by those whose usual practice is to ignore those who dissent from progressive orthodoxy. [...] I don’t think American life in general has been improved by this too-ready resort to histrionic anger, whether it comes from Glenn Beck or Cary Nelson. It abides on both the left and the right. Whether it abides more on one side than the other is a ticklish question. The left explodes in anger if you suggest it is the more rageful of the two. The right tends to laugh at the idea. But there is clearly enough anger-spiked tea to fill everyone’s cup. Higher education has no special immunity from the angri-culture. On the contrary, it is a privileged haunt for those who delight in scorn, derision, and wrathful dislike of mainstream American culture. We cite academic freedom as guaranteeing our right to be vitriolic.

To hear from Peter in person about anger in America now, come to "A Conversation with Peter Wood" in New York City on February 23.

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