Friday, March 30, 2007

America's Mayor? What does that say about America?

In today's headlines: "Giuliani Faces Questions About 9/11"

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been riding his persona as a 9/11 hero in his campaign for presidency, is coming under criticism by the families of deceased New York firefighters for his performance leading up to, during, and after that very event--most notably his administration's failure to provide the city's first responders with adequate radios, which could have been a factor in their deaths.

Clearly, not spending the money to ensure the safety of those who work for the safety of others is an important leadership failure. What really caught my eye, however, was a statement by one complainant (a woman whose son, a firefighter, died in the World Trade Center on 9/11):

"If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out. If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime - that's indisputable."

This has long been Giuliani's reputation. He was celebrated as "the man who cleaned up New York" long before he was hailed as "America's Mayor" for 9/11. But one must ask: if he cleaned up the city of all these homeless and despondent people, where did they go?

Karla Bertrand of Brown University knows where.

So did Robert Lederman, an artist who had been one of those homeless.

The thought that Rudy Giuliani would run on these laurels should disturb people much more than running on a faulted performance on 9/11. It's a sad but common thing for an administration to fail to account for and provide for some need within a department of that adminstration. While inexcusable, especially when it is associated with the loss of lives, there are countless leaders who could have made the same kind of mistake--as evidenced by the sorry failures at all levels in the response to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, no one person can take singlehanded charge or blame in a crisis like 9/11 or Katrina. But to systematically (and ethnically) "cleanse" a city of homeless people by arresting them and getting them out of sight instead of addressing the problems that lead to homelessness--all the while having the number of those homeless people increase because of your policies--takes a despicable mayor, and if you ask me, not a very good person, either.

So Rudy Giuliani's credibility on 9/11 isn't what it seemed. Does America still think he's credible on "cleaning up" New York?

And if he is America's Mayor, what does that say about America?


Blogger Jim Blynt said...

This is, indeed, a perceptive essay, and it is an accurate portrayal of "America's mayor" (I lived in NYC for a short time, when Giuliani was ruling the city). In truth though, I suspect the values Giuliani displayed when he was cleansing New York City of its homeless population (and, I might add, it's primarily minority homeless population, are exactly the values that many Americans espouse. Scratch the surface of most issues, and you will not be too hard pressed to find that racism (and its companions, fear and ignorance) lie underneath. I suspect many a middle American will mark their ballot for Giuliani because he epitomizes the very values that a democratic nation is supposed to stand against, intolerance of minorities in general, but of people of color in particular, being chief among them. Sadly, he really is America's mayor: the mayor of this nation's absolute worst impulses. Republicans will love him.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Bro Robin said...

That some are calling Giuliani anything close to a conservative is ridiculous. He is wearing a mask that needs to be uncovered ASAP!

9:32 PM  
Anonymous ED said...

The thought of Giuliani at the helm of this country gives me chills. What makes me more afraid, however, is the mentality of the country which may very likely vote him into office. A mentality which accepts without question the platform which Guiliani is running on... that he will take control in an emergency. Does not his stance on Guantanamo bay -- that these men should 'be kept away from lawyers' -- as well as his stance on torture, suggest that this man's view of power's relationship to the law, and to human rights is a little more than unsettling?
As the article above well points out, the man is not above draconian tactics, even in settled times. What of a moment where people's fear comes into play in a more immediate way? There is something in Giuliani to remind of another "monumental" leader in Wester history, whose authority and power came to him on the platform of the "emergency"....and the horrors that resulted in "resolving that emergency".

1:41 PM  

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