He may sound like a troll, but NYC's ex-mayor has never been without a platform—or a rapt audience—for the racist, slanderous vitriol he spews about Obama and the Black community.
Here we go again. The ex mayor and failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani just can’t stop digging into the right-wing propaganda playbook—recycling the vitriol of Bull Connor and George Wallace that dates all the way back to Jim Crow America—as he questions President Obama’s patriotism and love of America.
It is easy to dismiss Rudy, but the fact is, racism sells. Rudy has made an entire career peddling hate and fear, nostalgia and White supremacy, whether as mayor and now America’s regurgitator-in-chief. His rhetoric speaks to a broader history and the entrenched nature of White supremacy.
The last time we heard from the neckless grouchy gargoyle, he was blaming Black communities for causing the killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. We paid attention, condemned his racism, his hate speech, and his allergies to facts, and then we went back to the business at hand.
Sadly, this is what makes Rudy relevant. He speaks, stirring outrage, amplifying his platform. Like Geraldo and trolls like him, his relevance is predicated on the violence of his rhetoric and our rightful outrage at his words, his platform, and the embrace of his ideology by huge pockets of the nation.
Now he’s on tour with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, with his smug, kiss-my-ass white-picket-fence smile, spewing his increasingly outrageous claims against the Black man in the White House, challenging Obama’s patriotism because—get this—the POTUS met members of the Communist Party while he was living in Indonesia. When the president was 9!
“Giuliani said that the president’s lack of affection for his country can be attributed to meeting Communist Party members when he was living in Indonesia 44 years ago,” according to the Daily Mail.
At a fund-raiser for Walker, Giuliani felt compelled to share his bruised feelings. “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” When a person, like Giuliani, starts a statement with “I know this is a horrible thing to say” or “I’m not a racist, but,” it’s probably best to take a seat and shut the hole in your face.
But that was not Giuliani’s concern. Apparently he was worried that he hadn’t sufficiently insulted President Obama, because he added that “it’s only the president who refuses to say” that Islamic radicalism is behind terror attacks.
Giuliani told Fox News that “I don’t hear from him what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter, which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.” The New York Times has already disputed that lie with evidence to the contrary.
Then, suggesting that he enjoys the taste of his own foot in his mouth, Giuliani responded to widespread criticism of his initial outburst by telling The New York Times that he had just been describing the worldview that shaped Obama’s upbringing.
“Some people thought it was racist — I thought that was a joke, since he was brought up by a White mother, a White grandfather, went to White schools, and most of this he learned from White people,” Mr. Giuliani said in the interview. “This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”
Let’s take a few moments to recount the staggering hypocrisy of this man who preaches family values, lectures Black America about criminality, and cannot utter a single sentence without referencing 9/11 and American exceptionalism.
Giuliani’s Family Values
Rudy Giuliani was raised in the culture of organized Italian crime. His father, Harold Giuliani, was a violent Mafia thug and a convicted felon who served time in Sing-Sing back in the 1930s. Their criminal organization was involved in various armed robberies, shootings, and other trappings of a criminal lifestyle.
The New York Daily News reported that, “Lewis D’Avanzo, a son of the mayor’s uncle and a guest at Giuliani’s first wedding in 1968, was a ‘ruthless and widely feared mob associate’ who headed a massive stolen car ring,” and was gunned down by FBI agents in 1977.
Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, is a petty thief who was caught shoplifting cosmetics back in 2010, when she was 20.
His first wife, Regina Peruggi, was also his second cousin. The Catholic Church annulled that marriage because Rudy claimed he didn’t know he was keeping it in la famiglia. He cheated on his second wife, Donna Hanover, with the woman who is now his third wife, Judi Nathan. Such a class act is he, that Rudy announced his divorce to Hanover during a press conference—without telling her first.
No matter how much trash-talking he spews, he can’t even get the love of his political family—the GOP has yet to give him the nomination for president. Aww, poor Rudy, they don’t love you, either.
Hilariously enough, two of Rudy’s kids voted for Obama. Twice.
In 2007, Matt Taibbi best summarized the man’s vile and hypocritical behavior:
“Rudy Giuliani is a true American hero, and we know this because he does all the things we expect of heroes these days—like make $16 million a year, and lobby for Hugo Chávez and Rupert Murdoch, and promote wars without ever having served in the military, and hire a lawyer to call his second wife a ‘stuck pig,’ and organize absurd, grandstanding pogroms against minor foreign artists, and generally drift through life being a shameless opportunist with an outsize ego who doesn’t even bother to conceal the fact that he’s had a hard-on for the presidency since he was in diapers. In the media age, we can’t have a hero humble enough to actually be one; what is needed is a tireless scoundrel, a cad willing to pose all day long for photos, who’ll accept $100,000 to talk about heroism for an hour, who has the balls to take a $2.7 million advance to write a book about himself called Leadership. That’s Rudy Giuliani. Our hero. And a perfect choice to uphold the legacy of George W. Bush.”
Still, the former New York mayor continues to speak and have a platform. Any nation that gives him a platform is clearly exceptional.
This Is How Giuliani Demonstrates His Love of Country
The man who worked so hard to maintain his draft deferment during Vietnam is the same man who is accusing President Obama of not loving America. Yeah, that guy.
At least his attempt to drum up support for his incendiary comments is actually drawing him criticism. Even some Republicans attacked his statements about Obama’s not loving America and being raised by White people. To many, Rudy sounds like the bitter, ranting old crazy racist uncle at the holiday table, whose angry, incoherent ramblings make no sense at all. It embarrasses the GOP family when he shares their private conversations. He does their dirty work, allowing them to distance themselves from the ethos and ideological core of their party. Though it’s easy to see Rudy as a Krazy Konniving Kook (KKK), he is representative of a larger history of White supremacy.
Rudy Giuliani is our Ben Tillman, our George Wallace, our Richard Nixon. Tillman, a Democratic governor and senator from South Carolina, once threatened to impale President Grover Cleveland, and banked his entire career on painting himself as the great protector of White patriarchy. Nixon’s southern strategy remains a foundation for the GOP, and others, like Wallace and Bull Connor, routinely demonized African Americans as Communists, outside agitators, and unpatriotic.
“Rudy Giuliani is giving me Soviet flashbacks,” wrote Taibbi in Rolling Stone. “With his bizarre foot-in-mouth rants about how Barack Obama doesn’t love ‘America’ the way ‘we’ do, Rudy—and other ‘They hate us!’ exceptionalist ’Muricans like Eric Erickson and Steve Forbes—are starting to remind me of the frightened, denial-sick Communist die-hards I knew as a student in Russia.”
Despite claims about his desperation or his race to bottom, this is a window into Rudy’s entire career. Giuliani has always been bitter, resentful, mean, and openly racist. His love of the 1950s, racism and sexism and all; his efforts to bring Jim Crow policing to streets of NYC; his red-baiting have been longstanding. But the man himself is not the main point. It would be a huge mistake to individualize this dynamic by focusing on one person, and let a whole lot of people and institutions off the hook while denying the bigger picture and the real dynamics at play.
This is Republican propaganda—the party line—based on their strategy of opposing whatever President Obama says or does, no matter what. This is White male rhetoric, from Tillman to Giuliani.
Which is why you can’t just laugh it off. Rudy’s rhetoric is dangerous because it embodies all of the fears of older White men trying to comprehend a world that represents their worst nightmares. They fear obsolescence or outright annihilation with a Black president, a rapidly browning U.S. population, an increasingly multicultural global marketplace, and the threat to the ideology that has kept them firmly on top, in charge, and profiting from keeping people of color downtrodden, starving and striving for an American Dream that always remains just out of reach.
By spewing this propaganda, the ReTHUGlicans are gambling that their constituents—largely White and either well-to-do or convinced they are about to be—will opt to forgo critical and analytical thinking, and an objective perspective, to blindly follow-the-leader and attack anything they feel will threaten White supremacy, privilege, power and entitlement. Fear and racism are as American as apple pie—yes, he LOVES the 1950s. And Rudy is serving it with a scoop of red-baiting and all sorts of bigotry with hopes that America will eat it up so that he continue to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches while his friends take us back to the 1950s or 1850s.
This isn’t about love of country, love of party, or concern for anything other than maintaining the very unequal structure of power and privilege that undergirds the racist nature of politics. It gives us a glimpse into how the Republicans keep peeing on the American people—including those in their own party—and telling them to blame President Obama for the rain.
What Giuliani Really Represents
It might be easy to dismiss statements that are obviously ridiculous, clearly racist, and defy all facts and logic. But they’re no joke. They are fueling a dangerously divided government, threatening more American lives and futures than any foreign terrorist attack, and feeding a culture of hatred that has the potential to destroy any sense of progress for our entire nation.
Rudy Giuliani’s remixing the GOP’s “oldies but goodies” represents some deep, dark rage in America’s racial soul. He is giving voice to what the Tea Baggers, who have overtaken the Republican Party, represent: deeply dissatisfied folks who don’t like, welcome, respect, or view as fully human most African Americans, Latinos, or any other people who are not White. People of color are antithetical to American values and citizenship; a Black and Brown majority is a threat to American civilization in ways that slavery, genocide, Jim Crow, colonialism, and racist immigration laws never threatened. To Rudy and his pals, American exceptionalism is not only a truth, but one resulting from the contributions of White men. In their constricted vision of the America they profess to love, there is no room for diversity, varied opinions, compassion or empathy for others. Their love is not for America but White America because, in their mind, exceptionalism is truly White male exceptionalism.
And even when Giuliani is criticized by his fellow Republicans, the takedown is as potent as a one-shot vanilla latte. Because there is no acknowledgement of racism. If you are waiting for responsibility and accountability for sowing the seeds of hate from the likes of Fox and their GOP friends, think again—you’d be more likely to see a Knicks NBA title, legroom in the coach section on planes, and Oscar Awards diversity.
While it’s bigger than President Obama and personal disdain, it is clear that they hate the president because he’s not one of them, i.e., not an old White guy from the “right” kind of family. They loathe his policies or at least what they imagine to be an agenda based on loving the poor, every community, and providing a safety net. What could be more hateful than giving more than 10 million Americans affordable health care?
Giuliani’s got it all wrong. To love one’s country is not synonymous with thumping one’s chest and proclaiming that your country is perfect and has always been so. And isn’t that beside the point when there is so much NOT TO LOVE?
Why should our president—or any African-American person—love a nation that routinely kill us and blame us for our own deaths? Why should Black women love a nation that routinely demonizes us as bad mothers, welfare queens, and pariahs? Why should Black transwomen love a nation that sits idly by while its community is brutalized each and every day?
Why should Native Americans love a nation that remains on occupied land after centuries of genocide? Why should Latinos love a nation that continues exploit its labor all while demonizing them as “illegals”? Why should women love a nation that feels no responsibility for protecting women’s bodies amid a culture of sexual violence, domestic abuse, and an assault on reproductive rights? Why should the poor, the incarcerated, and so many others rendered invisible love a nation that cares neither in words and nor in action?
So we’re to believe that Rudy and his patriotic pals—the purveyors of hate and the executors of harmful, spiteful policies—are the one’s who love America? Oh, okay, they love America, just not actual Americans, not the people and communities who make up the country itself, I get it. Giuliani’s GOP buddies, who will scuttle any policy that would help Americans and thereby make Obama look good, hate its people and the ideals they routinely campaign on.
As ridiculous as Rudy’s rants are, they are too threatening to ignore. The danger of propaganda and racialized rhetoric is that it is seductive—playing into the existing fears of those White people who believe that their existence depends on their being in charge and ruling the world through their perspective and to their advantage, always at the expense of those who are not like them. A Black man in charge, an increasingly Brown and Black populace in a nation founded on the notion of majority rules, and a global world where Whiteness no longer has the same currency means that the Republican party desperately needs its members and followers to interpret this as a form of genocide that must be mocked, resisted and stopped by any means necessary.
At one level, Rudy Giuliani represents a form of dinosaur that sees his own extinction on the horizon and is using his bully pulpit to lob attacks against the man who represents all that he and those like him despise and fear. Yet, he’s alive and well, making money off fear, racism, and nostalgia. He is the GOP and the GOP is Rudy.
What’s love got to do with it? When it comes to right-wing politics, absolutely nothing at all. And when it comes to Rudy, I ain’t got no love for him not just because he’s an idiot, a racist, and someone who capitalizes on the worst of America’s toxic political culture and life, but because he is representative of so much that damages the very fabric of the lives of so many people and communities I LOVE.
There’s never been a more important time for quality journalism. You can help by supporting DAME’s reporting, commentary, and cultural criticism. Because it matters who covers the news. And it matters who covers women’s issues in the news. When you join, you’ll receive Parlour, our members-only newsletter, plus DAME swag, and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility. Become a supporter today.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics and social changes impacting woman and their allies.