The events of September 11 didn't turn 29-year-old Jeremy Glick into an activist; he's been one all his life. Glick, a star of Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," lost his father in the destruction of the WorldTradeCenter. He has since become known for his outspoken criticism of the Bush administration.
Greenwald's documentary shows a clip from Glick's guest appearance on Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor." In it, right-wing host Bill O'Reilly cuts Glick off mid-thought. In "Outfoxed," Glick describes how sparks flew in the studio after the cameras were turned off, and how the news organization that calls itself "fair and balanced" later manipulated the events of the day.
Glick coordinated street outreach and distribution centers for the massive March for Peace and Justice during the Republican convention. Besides being an activist, Glick teaches at RutgersUniversity and is working toward a graduate degree in English. I walked around the EastVillage with Glick on the last night of the Republican Convention, after meeting up with him at a rollicking, late-night gathering of activists in Union Square.
City: What's the story behind the city's refusal to give United for Peace and Justice the route it wanted and the right to rally in Central Park? Some have said it's because the group applied too late.
Glick:Initially, the city gave them an ultimatum: that it would cease all communication with UFPJ if they didn't accept the West Side Highway. So in order for UFPJ to proceed in insuring all the other logistical, practical, supplies, and promotional details that you need to have a successful march and rally, they had to concede to the West Side Highway. They ended up marching up Seventh Avenue, which was a big victory because the West Side Highway conditions were deplorable.
City: A number of large-scale events and protests have been held in Central Park throughout the years. Why do you think Mayor Bloomberg denied UFPJ the right to rally in the park?
Glick: It's not about a permit, deadlines, or horticulture. It's about quashing dissent in the city, and being directly answerable and directly linked up to the commands coming from the White House.
City: Was ita problem for UFPJ that thousands of people ended up going to Central Park anyway?
Glick:Well, the UFPJ didn't tell people to do that, and they didn't tell people not to do that. No organization can put parameters on how dissent will articulate itself. Union Square the whole week has become this carnivalesque anti-Bush gathering. No one person planned it. When you have that much rage and frustration against the current administration, you're not going to be able to control how that rage or righteous indignation gets played out.
City: How do you think our freedoms, specifically our right to protest, changed since 9/11?
Glick:The Republican administration in the White House right now has been taking the steps of a rising fascist state, militarizing the world for the benefit of a small, ruling-class minority. A huge segment of the breakaway communities of US intelligence feel that way. There are people who've been deported based on their nationality, without any due process. The sensibility toward defense has been totally repackaged where the actual victims of anti-democratic policies are re-cast as anti-patriotic.
City: Where do you put yourself on the political spectrum?
Glick:I take my licks and lessons from the Black Liberation movement, the best of that tradition. W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Angela Davis, AmiriBaraka: these are the people I look up to. I think most Democratic reform in this country has been spearheaded by the efforts of black workers. [I'm part of] the radical democratic tradition: a tradition that is anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist, and believes in self-determination and the rights of the laboring majority.
City: What's your take on John Kerry?
Glick:I'm not fond of Kerry; Kerry doesn't share the same liberationist goals that I do. He was for the Patriot Act. And he doesn't represent, with as much force as I want, the demilitarization of Iraq.
City: What do you think of 527s: groups like moveon.org and the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth that have been placing political ads?
Glick:It doesn't really bother me that one party of the bourgeoisie takes low blows at other parties of the bourgeoisie. I'm not invested in Bush or Kerry's integrity, so it's really irrelevant to me. I think that campaigns should not be privately run, that they should be thoroughly regulated, that money should be equalized.
City: Do you think there has been too much police involvement in the convention protests? Do you think police interventions have been too violent?
Glick:I think it's been ridiculous. Bush didn't even give them the necessary funding that they requested to secure the city independent of the Republican National Convention. What I've seen with my own eyes is the police being indiscriminately brutal and not making decisions between situations where they needed to disperse people and situations where they went completely nuts.
The gentleman who beat up one of the officers: that's a perfect example. The police officer drove his scooter into a crowd. What would happen if a young black male from Hunts Point or Harlem rode his little motorcycle into a police contingent at the St. Patrick's Day Parade? Do you think anyone would be pointing a finger at any of the cops that decided that they were going to let into that guy?
City:Let's talk numbers. Why are there such wildly different estimates for how many people attended the March For Peace and Justice? [Some Republicans insisted that only 100,000 people turned out. Other estimates put the total at more than 500,000.]
Glick:There was a point where Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Avenues were filled. The numbers game is strategic. There are certainly strategic advantages for the right-wing press to diminish the numbers. You always add from what the press reports, because they will always report low.
City: Which news outlets do you trust?
Glick:WBAI, Deepa Fernandez, Pacifica, Democracy Now!, African Kaleidoscope. That's where I get my news from.
City: Can you describe what O'Reilly did at your interview, after the cameras were turned off?
Glick:I told O'Reilly that he was cowardly for threatening me. I said he was the inverse of Joe Millionaire because he was a millionaire Irish-American white supremacist pretending to be a working-class Irish-American from Long Island. He told me to get out of the studio before he tears me to fucking pieces. I walked out of the studio by myself. So much for having to be removed by security --- that's a complete lie. I said some obnoxious things to O'Reilly, but I never threatened him; I never raised my voice. But I decided to let it go, which was foolish.
City: If you could have talked longer on air without being cut off, what would you have said?
Glick: I would have said that the day that I was looking in morgues and looking on DOA lists [for his father], Bush was nominating John Negroponte to be the US representative to the United Nations, who for the people of Honduras and other parts of South and Central America, is the equivalent of Osama bin Laden. The only way Negroponte isn't as bad is if you prioritize North American lives over Honduran lives, which I do not.
City: There's been a lot of talk about national-security failures and how we go about improving the system. Do you think we should follow the suggestions of the 9/11 Commission, Senator Pat Roberts' plan, or come up with another idea?
Glick:What they need to do is demilitarize the globe and not run the globe as an imperial playground. If we weren't occupying Iraq right now, if we weren't supporting oppressive regimes in the Arab world, and if we weren't financing the occupation of Palestine, people wouldn't have to worry about encouraging a rash of terrorists. Making a fetish over this policy versus that policy is a dodge. What they need to do is not run the world militarily to pursue a narrow minority's economic interests.
City: You lost your dad in the WorldTradeCenter and a man named Jeremy Glick who graduated from the University of Rochester lost his life on United Airlines Flight 93. Have people confused you with him?
Glick:The whole week of 9/11, I got calls from family, friends, educators, and the government that made that confusing distinction. And when I took stances against the Bush Administration, people got confused and perceived it as some sort of hoax --- as my being insensitive. I meant no disrespect to Mr. Glick's family or his folks. My heart goes out to them. It was very heroic what he did. We just have the same name, and we're from the same general region in New Jersey.
City:A columnist in Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle said protests are a waste of time compared to volunteering in voter registration efforts.
Glick:People should be doing both. What you need to do is sustained work in your community. Standing on a street corner and just registering people to vote can be a waste of time in and of itself. You need to have protests, registration, and community organizing --- organizing meaning you work in a community that you're accountable to; that you are not just accountable to yourself and your activist friends. Protests are one of the strategies you use while you're doing that day-to-day work. We need people to be at the Y and engage people at the Y, people at the pub, and actually feed people on their blocks.