The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Giuliani continues his ugly race to the bottom against Obama

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Watch out, John Sununu. You have company as the far right’s race-baiting buffoon.

On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani questioned President Obama’s patriotism by claiming he doesn’t “love America.” The former New York City mayor said this was because Obama “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” When Giuliani was called out on his racist “othering” of the president, he not only refused to apologize, he compounded the offense.

“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,” Giuliani told the New York Times yesterday. “This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.” This is Dinesh D’Souza-esque dumpster diving at its finest. It is also a stunningly superficial defense, a twist on the “some of my best friends are” pass that is always claimed and never offered that is as obnoxious as it is loathsome.

In the midst of protests that erupted in New York City after the killing of Amadou Diallo by undercover police officers in 1999, I interviewed then-Mayor Giuliani about his fraught relationship with the African American community and his views on race in general. The illuminating conversation revealed a man living firmly in a “color blind” 1950s.

JC: Describe your relationship with the African-American community.
Giuliani: I try not to have a relationship with separate communities. I try to see people as people. Maybe that is part of the problem….
JC: Why do you think so many people of color in this city think that you are a racist?
Giuliani: Because that word is thrown around as a political device . . . and the impression is given that anybody who disagrees with certain people is a racist on the issues they want to control. . . . There’s no point in my trying to educate people that I’m not a racist any more than I’m not a criminal. If people can’t figure either one of those two things out, then there isn’t much I can do to help them. That’s their problem. I’ve lived my life for a long time, and I’m going to continue to live it the way I do. I’m fair with people…..

Giuliani was not really “fair with people” when he was mayor. And his comments 15 years later show he still isn’t.

Back in the day, if anyone African American anywhere in the country said anything remotely close to what Giuliani said this week, there would be demands on black elected officials to condemn the remarks. Less than ten years ago, Obama had to deliver an entire speech on race because his former pastor said “God damn America” in a sermon where he wasn’t even present. That no Republican of any stature feels compelled or feels the need to forcefully condemn Giuliani for his outrageous remarks is disgraceful.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj