An unfortunately large part of the media response supportive of Piven that I’ve seen makes a point of mentioning that Frances Fox Piven is 78. Well, as an old white woman myself, I kinda resent the assumption that one look at us and anyone can see that obviously we’re not dangerous. Partly it’s the ‘ageism’ in that, but more it’s the kind of privilege that allows some people to say things like “Do I look like a ______?” shoplifter, terrorist, radical rabble-rouser? Thus reinforcing the idea that some people – young black or Middle Eastern men for example-- do look the type. And just what is the type in question for Beck here?
Piven, a past president of our organization and of ASA, a colleague and a truly remarkable and wonderful scholar and person, may well be a model member of an intelligent minority. Beck has named her among nine people as the ‘intelligent minority’ who are also the nine most dangerous people in the world. I think I would take some comfort from a world in which the most intelligent were also the most dangerous – it would imply more power associated with intelligence than I’ve observed. But be that as it may, I’m having a hard time seeing Piven as one of the nine most dangerous – and thus in some way powerful -- people in the world. If she were, this would be a much nicer world.