Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Rudy Giuliani is Keeping His Poisonous Legacy Alive with Donald Trump's Campaign

by Nomad

RNC  Rudy Giuliani

The other day, the New York Times gave this warning to former New York City mayor and avid Trump supporter, 72-year-old Rudy Giuliani:
Rudy's ardent support for Mr. Trump could come at a cost to his legacy.

That's what happens, I suppose, when you attempt to defend indefensible things. Former Giuliani aides, the article claims, are concerned about their ex-boss' unquestioning loyalty to the Republican nominee.

They cited his unsubstantiated questioning of Hillary Clinton’s mental and physical health.  He has also championed Trump's promise to build an “impenetrable physical wall” on the country’s southern border and to severely restrict immigration from Muslim countries. (When Trump was pressed for specifics, he began to sound more and more supportive of what is presently being done by the Obama administration.) 

So strident - some would say delirious- has been Giuliani's support for Trump, the editorial boards of some newspapers have raised the possibility that Rudy is "unhinged."

But then, in this election, how on earth could you know? 

At the disastrous Republican Convention, the former mayor's speech came off as a mix of the political with the psychotic.
His contorted face as he launched comparisons to fabricated tabloid monster “Bat Boy,” the subject of painter Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and conjured woes only a Big Apple resident could understand.
It was not a pretty sight. Onstage, Guiliani roared:
“Donald Trump will do for America what I did for New York City.”
For many who recall Rudy's term, that must have seemed like a good enough reason to vote for anybody else but Trump.

When it comes to legacies, one suspects a great deal of revisionism going on behind the scenes amongst Giuliani's pals. Fears that Rudy could somehow destroy his sterling history assumes a vast difference between Trump' and Giuliani. That the two do not share the same ideas at the core. Or that Rudy might not be even worse a bigot than Trump. 

As mayor, Giuliani might have done a lot of praiseworthy things but his style of exploiting racial and ethnic divisions is clearly in line with Trump's own strategy. Allegations of racism (and worse) have fogged Giuliani since he first ran for office. 
Giuliani's legacy is, in fact, still very much alive today in his approach to law enforcement, racial profiling and zero-tolerance. (We have covered this aspect of Giuliani's history in a 2014 post.)

The Wonder Bread Son

In his book, "Why Blacks Fear 'America's Mayor': Reporting Police Brutality and Black Activist Politics Under Rudy Giuliani" author Peter Noel makes the case that  Giuliani's policies have provided enough reason for African-Americans to be afraid of Rudy and the people who support him.  
If that sounds familiar, it should. 
What has been said of Trump has in the past been said of Giuliani. Noel writes:
Whites were tempted by Giuliani's emphasis on "re-establish[ing] civilized behavior in our street and in our public spaces." They saw this rhetoric as an agressive response to crime. But to black people, who have a direct knowledge of how the police can be used to control their everyday movement- whether or not they seem "menacing"- such statement had the ring of bigotry unleashed. Even blacks who professed no fealty to Mayor Dinkins considered Giuliani the city's most dangerous white hope. For them, the man the New York Times dubbed the "Wonder Bread son of the 50s" is fear itself: an iron fisted former federal prosecutor with a predilection for gun butt diplomacy.
If you think about it, even this seemingly-harmless Wonder Bread of the 50s label could be read as a dog whistle. White in the age before the Civil Rights era? Who knows? Back then, racism was necessarily a more subtle thing. 
His 1993 mayoral campaign slogan, often repeated, of “one city, one standard,” emphasized his view that no ethnic or racial group should expect special treatment.
Who could argue with that slogan? 
Certainly he knew such words resonated with white voters who formed the backbone of his electoral coalition. What is less certain is whether a man raised and schooled in a white world understood the force with which his harshest words rained down on black New Yorkers.
At the same time, his critics warned that Giuliani was providing an open door to the worst kind of politics. 

The Groups behind the Man

Back in 1993, when Mayor David N. Dinkins, first African American mayor in New York City history, was campaigning for re-election against Rudy Giuliani, one of Dinkins' staff, Jose Torres, appeared on local cable and warned the minority communities:
[There is a city] chapter of the KKK, who are individuals who hate African-Americans and all those who are not, like them, white Anglo-Saxons. They're individuals you have to fear. The group is small, but I imagine that give Giuliani a vote gives power to this type of people.. I speak to people who talk badly about African American, who talk badly about Jews, some who even talk badly about Puerto Ricans. And every time I ask them who they will vote for, they say Giuliani.
Torres also remarked:
"All groups or all persons who have a racial or ethnic prejudice are being attracted to Giuliani and I don't know why."...Giuliani projects something that attracts that type of person in his favor and to give a vote to Giuliani is to empower those bad people we have in New York."
Members of Giuliani's team publicly accused Torres was of making racially charged statements and called for Dinkins to boot him. This table-turning maneuver was pure Giuliani politics. Accuse the accuser, ignore the accusation. 
(In fact, when Giuliani called the "Black Lives Matter" a racist organization, it is very much the same technique replayed.)

In the end, Dinkins made the fatal mistake of capitulation and disavowed his aides' remarks and promised to give Torres a stern talking-to about the matter.
Rudy's victory in mayoral race proved that Dinkins' step back was a mistake. Not long after Giuliani won the election for mayor of New York, Torres' accusations became much harder to dismiss. By then, it was too late.

Today, however, the same thing is being said about Donald Trump and his empowerment of extremists. And this time, people are taking the issue much more seriously. 

Giuliani's Ideas in Practice

Sociology Professor Noel A. Cazenave in his book, The Urban Racial State: Managing Race Relations in American Cities, points out that it went beyond stoking racial fears, on both sides. It was deeper than just trying to establish "law and order."
During his first month in office Mayor Giuliani's administration threw out the affirmative action plan, initiated by Mayor Dinkins, stopped advertising city job openings in African American newspapers, ignored the city charter that in hiring the city should consult with the Equal Employment Practices Commission, and announced his decision to abolish the city minority-contracting program.
Giuliani's office, in addition, made no genuine effort to reach out to African-Americans as "part of his political constituency ideologically, programmatically," or even through the co-operation- if only symbolically- of African American leader of New York. (A day after the 1993 mayoral election, candidate Giuliani did, in fact, appear at a Harlem Church. Like Trump's recent visit, few in the African-American community were deceived.)
Cazenave charged that under Giuliani, blacks were given one of two choices: being ignored or being subjected to a racial crackdown by NYPD who were protected by the mayor's office.
Giuliani, he claims, relied heavily on its repressive state apparatus and harsh political rhetoric to keep the city under his control.

For the next seven years, Giuliani remained mayor of the Big Apple.

Adieu to Rudy

Friends of Rudy's worry about the possibility of the self-destruction his legacy is misplaced. In supporting Trump and bringing "his trademark brew of poisonous disinformation to the discussion", Giuliani is desperately fighting tooth and nail to keep his legacy- such as it is- alive.

In Rudy's eyes, there are many echoes of the past. He ran (and successfully defeated New York's first black (and only) black mayor. Trump is running against America's first black president.
Later, in 2000 in New York's Senate race, Giuliani was forced to drop out in the face of tumultuous medical, romantic, marital, and political problems. The ultimate winner of that race was none other than Hillary Clinton

It's impossible that the irony of all this historical mirroring has escaped the Wonder Bread boy. At his age, he is very likely to retire from any further campaigning. With accusations that an increasingly deranged Giuliani has outlived his usefulness to Trump (or to the country), we will be able to say adieu to Rudy.
Unless, of course, Trump wins and then we are very likely to see him as Trump's Attorney General.

In the more likely post-election world in which Trump's campaign goes down in flames, Giuliani and his skillful manipulation of white fear and bigotry- will become a noxious relic of the past. 
We can only hope, at least.

Now, enjoy this 1979 song from The Specials.