Illustration by Eloise Owens
Be on the lookout for the December issue of The Blue & White, which will be arriving on campus this week. In the meantime, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting features from the upcoming issue. Such treats include a breakdown of Barnard’s budget woes, a look at Columbia’s proposal for a new engineering campus, and the politics of space in Lerner. Below, find the transcript of our interview with Todd Gitlin.
Columbia Journalism School Professor Todd Gitlin first immersed himself in protest culture when he got involved with New Left political activism in the 1960s. After a stint in the underground intellectual and writing culture, Gitlin turned to academia, becoming a prominent public intellectual and prolific author. He has recently asserted himself as a prominent and informed voice in the debates about the Occupy Wall Street movement, upon which he is currently writing a book. Gitlin recently found the time to sit down with Blue & White contributor Anna Bahr to discuss the trajectory, politics, and core values of the movement.
The Blue & White: In the last month the majority of media attention on the movement has been more focused on police brutality than what Occupy Wall Street has actually been accomplishing. Do you think the shift in focus has negatively affected the purpose of OWS? Can you comment on the vilification of the police force?
Todd Gitlin: Right after the eviction [from Zuccotti Park], I was hearing a lot of indignation and outrage about the police tactics and [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg. That was about two and a half weeks ago and it seems to have faded. In the conversations I’ve had since them with people since then, with people who had been deeply involved, there wasn’t that much about the police. They rolled up their sleeves and started to address other issues.
In terms of the outer impression, it probably looks to people who have not been paying such close attention that the big story is this collision, the confrontation. That always happens whenever there’s violence—that’s what happens.
B&W: Has the public and media attention on instances of violence detracted from the effectiveness of the movement’s other efforts?