Political Monday: Giuliani and the Race Race
Let’s talk about Rudy Giuliani for a bit.
Yeah, I know he’s a Republican and you all know I’m a liberal, so why am I talking about Rudy? I’m so glad you asked.
This is the first wide-open election in a really long time. The first in my lifetime, certainly, when both the Republican and Democratic nominations are up for grabs. Yeah, I’m completely annoyed that we’re starting this campaign process so early, but it does provide a chance to see a different dynamic going on. That means paying attention to both sides of the coin.
Though most people reading this blog are probably liberal, not all PoC are firmly in the Democrat’s camp. Therefore, it’s important to look at the Right as well as the Left, see what they have to say, and vet their candidates as carefully as we do the other side.
Knowing your enemy makes it easier to debate and win debates with people about said enemy. And it’s pretty clear to me that Rudy Giuliani is the enemy.
I lived in New York through a good chunk of Rudy’s administration. And as much as he is praised (or praises himself) for cleaning up the city and making it great again, I still wonder if doing so came at too high a cost. Not that he was solely responsible for halting the city’s decline, no matter what he says. And the reforms he put in place seem to be directly responsible for the Disnification of Manhattan, a blasphemous tragedy that we New Yorkers rail against every day.
What you won’t hear Rudy talking about — and what matters far more than his getting rid of all the porn on Time’s Square — is his terrible racial politics and how it negatively impacted the people of New York. If let anywhere near the White House, he’ll do more of the same.
In the August Harper’s, Kevin Baker published a detailed profile of America’s Mayor, laying out a lot of his actions that never seem to get a mention during a stump speech or the debates. From his campaign against David Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor, to his pathetic response to NYPD’s criminally racist actions against the city’s citizens, Rudy has a lot to be ashamed of.
Giuliani… watched the winning side in the 1972 election and internalized a strategy that was honed by the likes of George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan over the course of nearly two decades. That strategy can best be described as a sort of “anti-populism,” a worldview in which the well-off are continually beset by the poor, the privileged by the disinherited, the white by the black.
Giuliani countered the encouraging statistics with a ruthless campaign designed to reaffirm New Yorkers’ worst fears about their city, what The New York Times Magazine would call “the race race.” In part this effort was viciously, relentlessly personal, designed to challenge Dinkins’s very legitimacy as mayor. Often the dirty work was done by surrogates, such as Giuliani crony Jackie Mason, the comedian, who publicly dismissed Dinkins as nothing but “a fancy shvartzer with a mustache.” The same Times article noted a more harrowing incident in the fall of 1992, in which Giuliani gave a profanity-laced speech that inflamed a mob of some 10,000 “raucous, beer-drinking, overwhelmingly white police officers” who had just finished a march on City Hall to protest a Dinkins-backed proposal for civilian oversight of police-misconduct complaints. Many in the mob spewed racial epithets and carried signs condemning Dinkins in grossly racial terms, including one that read, “Dump the washroom attendant!” Giuliani’s complicity in this disgraceful incident was dutifully condemned by the media …which nonetheless validated the same stereotypes.
Seeking to elide the steadily dropping crime statistics, Giuliani resorted to more racial code, charging in a speech that Dinkins “might as well have held a ceremony in which he turned the neighborhoods over to the drug dealers. As far as I’m concerned, there is no future in surrender.” The very slogan of his 1993 campaign, “One Standard, One City,” implied that somehow black New Yorkers were getting away with something under a black mayor. Sure, crime might be falling, but what really mattered to New Yorkers was something called “quality of life”—a nebulous state of grace that was thwarted by all signs of disorder on the streets, from open drug dealing to aggressive panhandling to uncollected trash, and of course those darn squeegee men.
Race never went away either. Without quite saying so, Giuliani made it clear that white people would no longer be on the defensive in his city. His administration was punctuated by a series of ugly incidents, including the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man mistaken for a rapist by four plainclothes police detectives who fired forty-one unanswered bullets at him; the fatal shooting of a club security guard, Patrick Dorismond, after he was approached at random by undercover narcotics officers who insisted that he sell them crack; and the brutal rape of a suspect, Abner Louima, by police officers armed with a broken broom handle.
Any protests over such actions were usually greeted with indifference or renewed shows of force on the part of the mayor. Giuliani confronted mourners of the world’s AIDS victims with police snipers on the roof of City Hall, intimidated demonstrators by ensuring that they spent as much time as possible being put “through the system,” and summoned an unnerving array of heavily armed police, complete with hovering helicopters, to virtually “lock down” part of Harlem when a noxious black nationalist dared to hold a rally there. In the case of Dorismond, the murdered guard, Giuliani went so far as to illegally open and leak the contents of his juvenile police file to the public.
I find it very interesting that a lot of the talk around Giuliani focuses on matters that are trivial when compared to some of the stuff talked about in this article. Yes, his three marriages and his swervy position on abortion are important factors. But not nearly as troubling as the prospect of a president who so completely disregards PoC and has already taken a position that white folks are “under siege”.
If his campaign against Dinkins is to be the template for his presidential campaign, then I’m really not up for Giuliani vs. Obama. I’m disgusted enough with politics. Having to watch that unfold may finally make me secede from the union.
Are there any Rudy supporters out there? Any ready to debate (civilly) the non-supporters?
I’m also interested in seeing some more articles and different viewpoints on Giuliani. Like I said, know thy enemy. Even if he doesn’t get the nomination or the VP spot, he might still get a spot in the nightmare possibility of another Republican administration.