Rob : I hear you. Now just to totally change the subject, you were part of a conversation with Ahmadinejad recently.
Glen : I went to the dinner. I didn't raise any questions, and the forum actually wasn't set up for people to raise questions, and I probably wouldn't have raised any anyway. He's a head of government, of a political culture over which we have no influence. And so I never was one to go into those kinds of forums and then make these statements just to show the flag that Black Agenda Report was there.
Rob : Ok, fair enough. Are there any hopes that you have for anything good happening in the next four years? Are there any areas that Obama covers that we might see some progress?
Glen : You mean domestically?
Rob : Wherever. And are there any soft spots, perhaps, where it might actually be possible for people to make pressure to make some change happen in the right direction, in a positive direction?
Glen : Yeah, you know, the Occupy folks, or folks who came under that umbrella are still out there. And, I'm confident we'll find new and clever ways to make their presence known. The crisis of Capitalism as it makes itself felt domestically can't help but jar more and more people into a reaction, and as long as there are a hard core of folk out there who can galvanize, who have learned how to get the attention of the media, there's always a promise. Black folks are not as quiescent as I may have seemed to be describing them. We did see a whole uproar, an upsurge in activity, of the Trayvon Martin killing. It shows we still have spirit. And so there is room to organize. And the Black is Back Coalition, we are gaining members and influence with every passing month. But in terms of dramatic events on the domestic scene, no, I don't see anything right around the corner. But we never know; this is a society in crisis, and stuff happens. (laughs)
Rob : You've mentioned the Black is Back Coalition twice. Can you talk a little bit about what it is and what you are doing with it?
Glen : Yeah, it was formed in 2009. I suppose the main impetus for its formation was to show that not all black folks were drinking the Obamalade. So, in September of 2009, a coalition of individuals and organizations - about thirty organizations, or tendencies from various organizations - came together, and in November we organized a rally and a march on the White House with about three hundred folks. In addition to demonstrating, just by our formation, that not everybody in Black America was hooked on Obama, our second mission, as we saw it, was to provide cover for white progressives, for White people on the left who hadn't been able to actively oppose Obama and his ideas, because they feared being called racists. And we thought well, they can always point to us and say "Well, they're not motivated by racism. Look over there, the Black is Back Coalition, and they are opposed to Obama's policies too." And we think we have served a function that way.
Rob : We're getting close to the end here. Something happened the other day in Egypt with their new President Morsi. What's your take on what's happening there?
Glen : I think the left in the United States better get used to the fact that the left in the Muslim and Arab world has been defeated, wiped out, so many times -- over, and over, and over again, over the last fifty or sixty years, that it really is not much of an organized presence, and that most of the politics in that region is spoken within some kind of Islamist context. And so we shouldn't project our own politics onto Egypt, and imagine that the people that we would identify as being progressive like us have any possibility of achieving power in that society. I also, however, believe, that anti-Imperialist sentiment, and Nationalist sentiment in that part of the world - and especially in Egypt - also speaks religious accents. And so we shouldn't look at these folk who have Islamic colorations as being necessarily reactionary, and necessarily not opposed to the US Imperialist project. We have to accept the results of many, many, many decades of repression of the left, which has forced them into marginal corners.
Rob : Now, ok, that's a pretty general response, but especially in Egypt it looks like Morsi is attempting to grab more power than even Mubarak had.
Glen : Now let's not get confused about the nature of the Judiciary in Egypt. I see that folks are trying to characterize the Judiciary as some kind of bulwark against a Morsi dictatorship. The Judiciary in Egypt has been a bulwark for the military dictatorship, and so we see those marginalized left forces in Egypt demonstrating along with those who are supporting the Judiciary -- that is a marriage of convenience - and if we read the Judiciary as being part of some kind of Progressive force in Egypt, then we are quite mistaken; And that's why I was making that general statement. I don't think that Americans, and even folk on the left who consider themselves to be politically astute, understand the character of the actors who are on that stage at the moment.
Rob : OK, so it's very confusing. Where do you think it'll end up?
Glen : It's not confusing to me in terms of Egypt, not in the foreseeable future, being governed by anybody that we in the West would recognize as being progressive and leftist.
Rob : OK.
Glen : It will have an Islamic coloration, and we have to be more astute in reading what tendencies within those generally Islamic forces, and what they are actually saying, rather than looking at them as kind of cardboard caricatures of Islam.