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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.

13 thoughts on “Political Monday: Giuliani and the Race Race”

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  3. Delux says:

    I was beginning to think that I had hallucinated so much of that stuff, since everyone seems to be convinced none of it ever happened and his campaigns and terms in office were all about cupcakes and kittens….

  4. Ico says:

    I mentioned this in the other politics post, but just another note on Giuliani and race: his campaign staff is all white. This is pretty telling, given he’s the former mayor of a city with so much diversity. The Washington Post mentions his campaign staff’s whiteness:

    And DiversityInc. did a story on campaign diversity, which I can’t access because I’m not a subscriber. I did find a copy of one of their charts on another blog, though:

    Notice Giuliani’s big blue bar (blue = percentage white staff) with not a hint of any other colors.

  5. pllogan says:

    I dislike Rudy, and I’m nominally Republican. He’s not getting my vote.

  6. Veronica says:

    God, I hate Giuliani. I loathe him. He takes credit for changes that were years in the making, that were the results of policies that had been put in place years before and of demographic changes (crimes goes down when the number of young single men goes down). He was unbearably divisive vis a vis race–instead of bringing the city together, he focused on marginalizing the already disempowered. His much vaunted 9/11 cred overlooks the various ways he had refused to provide the FDNY with better communications gear that would have prevented deaths. Post 9/11 he denied raises etc. to the firemen’s union.

    He did only one thing that I admired him for–he sued the federal government on behalf of the immigrants of NYC. And in this campaign, he’s renounced that move.

    Slightly tangentially, I’ve always suspected that Buffy’s Principal Snyder was based on Giuliani. The character’s physical presence, his manner of speaking–they’re so spot on.

  7. Theresa Nielsen says:

    Our Nation should not allow individuals that have conlict of interests run for public office. Giuliani represents Cintra a spanish co. that has ties with buying some our our roads for the cheerleaders of the wished for NAU or Amexicanada. Then he has those staged phone calls implying his wife was calling during a speech delivery. Maybe it was Cintra on the phone letting him know that he has his check in the bank. Wake Up America!

  8. bellatrys says:

    Giuliani is talking like he wants to invade Iran next (saying they’re more of a threat than Soviet Russia and China in the Cold War!), and has people as advisors who have been pushing for that for ages, so there’s something that affects everybody in a bad way.

  9. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Racial Diversity in Presidential Campaign Staffs
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  11. CaptainReality says:

    I find the whole electoral race odd.

    It wouldn’t matter if the Republicans fielded a candidate who was a merger of the best qualities of Ghandi, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King. They still wouldn’t win the presidency because they’d be tainted by the astoundingly incompetent actions of the Republican leadership of the last 8 years.

  12. laterain says:

    too tired to read this as carefully as I should right now (yet not too tired to ramble myself–go figure!) but I want to thank you ahead of time because I was trying very hard to explain why I have this visceral hatred/distrust of Rudy, and it was hard to verbalize it except to fall back on the Abner Louima thing and his complicity in that . . .

  13. nm says:

    Don’t forget that he also permanently blocked off City Hall with concrete barriers and cyclone fencing, long before September 11, to ‘protect’ himself from demonstrators.

  14. DL says:

    I’m a New Yorker. I detest him, and always have..even more than Bloomberg, and the day he left office is one of my fondest political memories. Thanks for this article, besides providing more legitimate fodder, I now see that I’m not alone.

  15. retro says:

    Go Colbert! As wacky and wierd as he is, I’d vote for him.

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