FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

From Giuliani to Bush

Giuliani’s New York had a blind spot for that recurrent disease of cowboy police forces–the superiority complex. by PIERRE TRISTAM After he was kicked, punched and sodomized with a broomstick by two of New York City’s “finest” at a Brooklyn police precinct in 1997, Abner Louima told a story.

As the officers terrorized him, he said, they chanted how it was “Giuliani time, not Dinkins time,” a reference to Rudolph Giuliani, then at the end of his first of two triumphalist terms as mayor, after the disastrous administration of David Dinkins.

Louima sued, and two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center he reached an $8.75 million settlement with the city and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

By then he had admitted that he made up the “Giuliani time” remark. But made up or not, the remark had to be invented. It summed up Giuliani’s faintly fascist regime of martial policing that had given New York the feel of a secure perimeter rather than a freewheeling city, so that even the New York Times called him the “Mussolini of Manhattan” in a headline a few months after his reelection, when, DiCaprio-style, he’d yelled “I am the king of the world” to television cameras. He kicked off a new round of Little Hitler jokes when he announced plans for a $15 million bombproof “emergency control center” on–where else, the 23rd floor of the World Trade Center.

By then the NYPD’s “stop & frisk” tactic had become an endemic and racist harassment tool–175,000 cases in a 15-month period about the time of the attack on Louima, with blacks and Hispanics overwhelmingly targeted (Louima is a Haitian black).

There was the guy shot dead while arguing about a fender bender on a city bridge, the guy dragged out of his bedroom at gunpoint, the guy shot dead in the kitchen of the restaurant where he worked, all shot by cops, all part of 3,500 lesser-known Giuliani Time police misconduct cases–the ones that led to lawsuits, anyway–which, cumulatively, cost New York City taxpayers $177 million in settlements over eight years.

Giuliani’s New York, “where our life is secure and dignity is preserved,” in the words of an NYPD video, had a blind spot for that recurrent disease of cowboy police forces–the superiority complex. At Giuliani’s command, who truly thought himself Mayor of the World well before Time Magazine crowned him as such, the NYPD’s superiority complex was bound to be bloody. Giuliani’s metamorphosis after Sept. 11 was truly great, and as Newsweek put it recently, “Rudy Giuliani found his voice” that day. But for too many New Yorkers, it was eight years late.

None of this should be too relevant now except for city historians. Giuliani is out of power. He’s finally harmless. Yet it is too relevant for comfort, because it’s hard not to see close parallels between Giuliani and President Bush, two men who’ve been feeding off of each other’s blood-born popularity ever since that horrible day, which they continue to use and abuse to their political advantage with buzzard-like rapacity. There are disturbing parallels between Giuliani’s brown-shirt rule before Sept. 11 and Bush’s since, between Giuliani’s revanchist reign over New York and Bush’s avenging foreign policy, between Giuliani’s shoot-first mentality and Bush’s contempt for doubt, between the once-Mayor of the World and the would-be King of the World. New York City before Sept. 11 is the United States since then: Suspicious, arbitrary, discriminating, secretive, and policing above all, but mostly above the law.

What this means for the armed forces as they campaign and rampage through foreign lands for no better reason than because the president has a hunch that safety in Iowa or Flagler Beach lies in obliterating many thousand souls seven time zones away isn’t clear yet, if entirely unreassuring. What it has already meant for the country is very clear. Giuliani Time has yielded to Bush Time.

And for a crowning parallel, Bush has given the nation its own “emergency control center.” It is proportionally more expensive, more lumbering and more useless than the one Giuliani put on the 23rd floor of the World Trade Center. Calling it the Department of Homeland Security even gives it that brown-shirt tint the Giuliani-Bush school of security designers are so fond of. After greeting its inception with a season of derision back in 1998, the press politely kept its ironists’ mouths shut when the original command center ended up at New York’s Fresh Kills dump, along with other remains from Ground Zero. Mouths are unfortunately still mostly shut about the new department and most other Bush-born crocks. It’s Bush Time, and it’s jamming.

PIERRE TRISTAM is a News-Journal editorial writer. He can be reached at ptristam@att.net

 

More articles by:
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail