Over the past three or four months the major news networks have barraged their listeners with endless commentary from a well known political has-been who was once hailed as “America’s Mayor”, Rudy Giuliani. The former New York Mayor has been brought out to offer his views on topics such as extrajudicial police killings, “race relations” and of course “terrorism”, presumably because he acquired some sort of unique expertise as the world’s only “Mayor of 9/11”. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t harp on the fact that he was Mayor of New York during the tragic time of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center which killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Given his background as a former conservative heavyweight, it’s only natural that he should want to add to his Republican credentials by making direct appeals to the most racist constituents. Most recently this included blaming various Black men who’ve been mercilessly gunned down by police in residential areas for their own deaths during appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, or delivering very thinly-veiled racist lines of attack on President Barack Obama while at a private conservative dinner party held for likely GOP presidential contender Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
At the conservative dinner, Giuliani offered these deluded remarks regarding the sitting President:
“I do not believe – and I know this is a horrible thing to say – but I do not believe that this President loves America. He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up to love this country. And with all our faults, we’re the most exceptional country in the world.” [exceptional at what exactly, Rudy does not say]
Rudy later elaborated on Fox “News” Channel after his comments were leaked and exposed,
“What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American Presidents.”
This is complete and utter nonsense. President Obama has, like each President who’s presided over the Office before him, offered nonsensical, hypocritical and meaningless platitudes on how wonderfully great and “exceptional” America is, as if this country hasn’t behaved as an imperialist monstrosity since its earliest days as colonial subjects of the British Crown. But that is neither here nor there. The point of Rudy’s absurd comments is, I suspect, simply to set President Barack Obama apart from all “other presidents”, to delegitimatize him as being not a “real American” or not “one of us”. This was made even more evident in a statement he made in a speech in Arizona earlier this year in which he told attendees, “I would go anywhere, anyplace, anytime, and I wouldn’t give a damn what the President of the United States said, to defend my country. That’s a patriot. That’s a man who loves his people. That’s a man who fights for his people. Unlike our President“. So says a man who actively dodged the military draft on at least six different occasions.
Following the backlash prompted by his presumably off-the-cuff remarks, former Mayor Giuliani went into damage-control mode by insisting that, whatever one thinks of the appropriateness of his remarks, they had absolutely nothing to do with the President’s race. After all, isn’t the President’s family white on his mother’s side? That’s the explanation he gave to the New York Times anyway:
“Some people thought it was racist – I thought it 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. This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”
Someone needs to bring to the disgraced former Mayor’s attention that racism and colonialism go hand in hand with each other. And the particularly fascist strain of American conservatism is really laid bare by this whole right-wing line of argument that Obama must be scary because he is supposedly “anti-colonialist”, as if being anti-colonialist is somehow a bad thing! (FYI, President Barack Obama is neither anti-colonialist nor anti-imperialist. How could he be? He’s the leader of the world’s largest empire.)
Continuing with this line of attack, Giuliani decided to revive the ghost of Red Scare politics of the past, insinuating the President may be a secret Communist agent. “The ideas that are troubling to me,” he said, “come from communists with whom [Obama] was associated when he was 9 years old… Look, this man was brought up basically in a white family, so whatever he learned or didn’t learn, I attribute this more to the influence of communism and socialism.” Missing from this analysis, however, is the fact that Obama’s grandfather, whom Giuliani apparently believes was an agent of Russian socialism or something like that, was a veteran of WWII on the side of the Allies, and a great uncle of his was among the American troops who liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, comes from a line of crooks and members of the mob. The most outlandish aspect of all these crazy assertions commonly made by the American right-wing about President Obama is that, in reality, big businesses and the corporate CEOs who run them should be thanking Barack Obama for saving their ability to make record profits at the expense of everyone else. The first job of any American President is to save the system of capitalism from collapse, a system which allows such vast economic inequality to continue unfettered. To that end Obama has proven himself more than worthy of the task.
Unfortunately for conservatives, demonizing your political opponents as card-carrying Communists or socialists doesn’t quite inflict the same amount of damage as it used to. The more effective way to tarnish a public official in 2015 is to accuse them of being a secret Muslim. This is why the President’s rather innocent remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in February ignited such an ideological firestorm. Obama dared make mention of the verifiable historical fact that violent extremism is not the monopoly of any one religion alone. After all, as the President noted,
“during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.
In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” (*)
Without a hint of irony in his tone, Rudy Giuliani cited this statement as evidence that “now we know something is wrong with this guy”, and further tried to belittle the President by asserting that Obama does not possess “a deep knowledge of history. I think it’s a dilettante’s knowledge of history.” In other words, white supremacists have never invoked their Christian religion as a means of justification for what they do. Unfortunately for the former Mayor however, the white Christians of yesteryear did not shy away from expressing their hateful beliefs and were a lot more honest about their motivations than Giuliani is. A picture can sometimes be worth a thousand words:
“When I see Christians slaughtered,” said Giuliani, continuing with his racist drivel in an interview with New York ABC affiliate WABC, “and I don’t see the American president standing up for them as Christians, when I see Jews slaughtered and I don’t see him standing up [for] them as Jews, I wonder if my criticism about his love for America doesn’t extend to a criticism of a love of Western civilization.” While there are so many things inaccurate about this statement (**), I think it’s best to respond to Giuliani’s assertion of Western supremacy with a quote from the most renowned human rights activist of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi. When asked his opinion of Western civilization, the leader of India’s independence movement responded,
“I think it would be a good idea.”
Rudy is hardly alone in believing such crackpot theories about the current President of the United States. In fact, his views are right at home with the modern-day Republican Party – a bastion of white reactionary sentiment. It didn’t take long for fellow conservatives, like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, to jump to their fellow conservative’s defense. Both have insinuated on several occasions that Obama’s sympathies lie with Muslim ‘extremists’ as opposed to Christians. One of the most disturbing aspects of the “Obama is not a Christian” card is that it makes it appear there is an unwritten requirement that the POTUS must be a member of the dominant religion, Christianity. This is not entirely of politicians’ own making. It’s apparently a belief held by many of the American people as well. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research in 2010, up to 18% of Americans mistakenly believed President Barack Obama was a practicing Muslim, 34% believed he was a Christian, and a shockingly ignorant 43% simply said they “don’t know”. (^)(Among conservative Republicans, 34% reported believing President Obama is a Muslim.) This is certainly a unique occurrence in American history for a sitting President’s Christianity to be so widely challenged and/or denied. It has never happened, at least not at this level, to any of the other 42 Presidents (Yes, 42. Grover Cleveland was still one person, even if he served two non-consecutive terms.) And despite what his many right-wing critics may assert, Obama’s performance as President has not been radically different from the others either.
Failing to convincingly justify his extreme contempt for Barack Obama the man, Giuliani finally resorted to invoking the one issue only he can exploit like no one else can, September 11th. In an interview with fellow New York white supremacist shock jock Sean Hannity, Rudy Giuliani let loose:
“I am at a stage of real, real worry for my country…
ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeda [are] very dangerous, horrible people.
You know, President Obama didn’t live through September 11th – I did.
President Obama didn’t almost, you know, have a building fall on him…”
This lowlife scumbag Giuliani is still parading around as if he actually did something on 9/11/01 other than stage a bunch of photo-ops for a future presidential campaign run. That’s why, when he announced in 2007 he was seeking to be the Republican nominee for U.S. President, the International Association of Fire Fighters came out fully against the Mayor’s candidacy, including many of the families whose loved ones’ lives were lost as first responders in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy. According to some of the surviving first responders, the radio equipment they were provided with was hopelessly outdated, and the Mayor was well aware of this at the time because it was the same equipment previously deemed unsatisfactory dating all the way back to the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. It is reported that on September 11, 2001 some “121 firefighters in the north tower didn’t get out because they didn’t hear evacuation orders”. In the words of the official 9/11 Commission report, the “technical failure of FDNY radios [was] a contributing factor… [to] many firefighter fatalities in the North Tower.” Furthermore, Guiliani “sharply reduced recovery teams at the World Trade Center site afterward even though many firefighters’ bodies had not been found”. ‘America’s Mayor’ didn’t even see to it that all workers and first-responders were provided with respirators, an “oversight” undoubtedly contributing to the untimely illnesses and deaths which subsequently plagued many of these brave people.
UPDATE: On March 12, Rudy Giuliani added to his trove of idiotic statements. After two police officers in Ferguson were shot and injured following the exposure of widespread corruption and extortion by the Ferguson PD, Rudy blamed President Obama for not singing the praises of America’s corrupt police officers enough. According to him,
“It’s the obligation of the president of the United States to explain to the American people –and the world – that our police are the best in the world; they are the most trained; they are the most restrained.”
While it might seem too early to call, I’m going to go ahead and nominate this ridiculous assertion for biggest lie of the year 2015, if not biggest lie of the century. Within the next breath, Giuliani compared Barack Obama unfavorably to, of all people, famous African American comedian Bill Cosby. The former Mayor believes Obama should spend his time chastising Black people and blaming them for racism the way Cosby did.
* If anything, President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast were far too tame. He could have just as easily added that violent atrocities are still being committed in the name of Christianity in the present day, as religion has been used as justification for, in the words of former President George Bush Jr., “crusades” in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more on this, please see Denial at the National Prayer Breakfast and Divine Hatred, both published by Counter Punch.
** For starters, no religion is a product of so-called “western civilization”. Their origins can all be traced back to either Africa or Asia. The claim that Pres. Barack Obama shows special favor to followers of Islam as opposed to members of the Christian and Jewish faiths is also demonstrably false. Hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars go towards slaughtering Muslims in their homelands every year under the Obama administration as with the Bush administration before it. The current President never fails to immediately condemn in harsh terms the killing of an Israeli soldier or an Israeli civilian, referring to all such deaths as acts of “terrorism”. The same cannot be said for the thousands of innocent (predominantly Muslim) Palestinians who’ve been killed by Israel during his tenure. It’s rare that these deaths are even acknowledged by the White House. When they are they are never referred to as resulting from an act of terrorism, even if the murdered Palestinian happens to be a U.S. citizen. Furthermore, it took the President several whole days, and after quite a bit of pressure, to finally comment on the brutal slaughter of three Muslim college students in his own country last month by a radical Atheist at North Carolina’s Chapel Hill University.
^ The same Pew study also found that among those who disapproved of President Obama’s job performance, 67% believed he was a Muslim.