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Monday, October 24, 2016

Amazing. Just … amazing.

Here we are, six years later, six years of mom jeans and golf dates and taking the girls for ice cream. And yet, some of us are still hung up on the perceived “otherness,” the “not like us”-ness, of Barack Obama.

The latest is Rudy Giuliani, speaking last week in New York at a fundraiser for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. “I do not believe,” said Giuliani, “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.”

In the entirely predictable firestorm that followed, Giuliani has tried out various defenses. He told The New York Times his remarks could not possibly be racist because the president had a white mother. It is a claim of such staggering obtuseness as to defy deconstruction and to which the only sensible response is to scream “Arghh!” while banging one’s head against a wall.

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Giuliani wrote that he “didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart,” a lie easily refuted. Quote: “I do not believe that the president loves America.” End quote.

The Giuliani defense tour also pulled in to Fox “News,” where Giuliani claimed that while Obama frequently criticizes America, he expresses no love of country. But in the very first speech most Americans ever heard Obama give — at the 2004 Democratic Convention — he sang arias of American exceptionalism, noting that “in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” Since then, Obama has missed no opportunity to praise what he has called “the greatest country on Earth.”

Nor is Obama the only president to criticize America. Yet somehow, when Jimmy Carter cited a “crisis of the American spirit” in which “too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,” his country love went unquestioned.

There’s a simple reason Giuliani is having such trouble defending what he said. What he said is indefensible. It was cloddish and, more than that, it was ugly.

The man once dubbed “America’s mayor” for his stirring response to the September 11 attacks now seems, on matters of race, at least, more like “America’s Batty Uncle.” Remember, this is the same Giuliani who, in a discussion of police violence in black neighborhoods, told Michael Eric Dyson, “The white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other.”

Dyson is an author and academic. He is not known to have killed anyone.

Six years ago, there was wistful talk of a “post-racial America.” But today, we find ourselves in the most-racial America since the O.J. Simpson debacle. It’s not just income inequality, voter suppression and the killing of unarmed black boys. It’s also the ongoing inability of too many people to see African-Americans as part of the larger, American “us.”

Most of them no longer say it with racial slurs, but they say it just the same. They say it with birther lies and innuendo of terrorist ties. They say it by saying “subhuman mongrel.” They say it by questioning Obama’s faith. They say it as Rudy Giuliani said it last week. They say it because they have neither the guts to say nor the self-awareness to understand what’s really bothering them:

How did this bleeping N-word become president of the United States?

The day the towers fell, Giuliani seemed a heroic man. But he has since made himself a foolish and contemptible one, an avatar of white primacy struggling to contend with its own looming obsolescence.

And the question once famously put to Joe McCarthy seems to apply: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

But what’s the point in asking? The answer is painfully clear.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected]

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

  • Dominick Vila

    I don’t think Rudy is foolish. I think he is the classic politician, consumed by ambition, greed, and willing to do or say whatever it takes to be on the limelight…and have a chance to be GOP 2016 nominee. He knows what it takes to energize the GOP base, and he is playing them like a violin.

    • FT66

      What can we say about those who are being played like a violin?

      • Dominick Vila

        Hopefully they know how to dance when the effects of Republican policies hit them.

  • Alvin Harrison


    That is the conclusion I have come to. Otherwise we will continue to be bombarded by people saying stupid things…bringing us stupid ideas…doing stupid things. You see, if there is no deterrent there will be no stopping stupidity. So, yes, you can fix stupid…well maybe not fix it, but at least keep it from interfering with the rest of us.

    Take Rudy Giuliani. Please. He is the now Mayor of Stupidville. His statement that the President did not love America, has had him running backwards to somehow put that genie back in the bottle since he blurted it out a few days ago. When Fox News says you may have gone too far…you were WAY out there. Now, Rudy may have forgotten that he, when he was the age to fight in Vietnam, did everything he could to avoid serving this country he “loves”…to the point he got the judge he was working for to write a letter to help him avoid the conflict and the service. We made a big mistake when we made him Mayor of America because his city was the object of 911…he is now somehow the “owner” of 911 patriotism. If it hurt his jaws to speak, maybe we won’t have to hear his nonsense any more.

    I already went over the stupid idea of the month…issuing carry permits to students on college campuses. If stupid ideas caused headaches we would be free of them also. I wonder sometimes if the originators of these stupid ideas ever get past the “it just popped into my head phase” and move on to the “lets weigh the pros and cons stage”….and after that the “lets see if this passes the logic test” stage. What is REALLY scary is, if in their minds a stupid idea like college carry permits passed the tests, what exactly do they think might be a stupid idea. I don’t want to even be in earshot for those.

    Doing stupid things is unfortunately a curse for a large portion of the population. In fact we glorify it. Ever seen a “Jackass” video. There are more than one…the only redeeming factor in those videos is the demonstrating that doing stupid things most times is painful. In that regards I guess the “Jackass” guys should be applauded for trying to educate their audience.

    My fellow Americans…here is the one problem with accepting and allowing stupidity in our culture. Stupidity can be painful…and not just for the stupid….unless allowing the stupid to exist in our government and leaders makes us just as stupid. Ow..that hurts.

    • The lucky one

      Stupidity is painful, to the rest of us. We celebrate stupidity. How else could Bush have been elected for a second term.

      • OG Bricks

        Americans are easily swayed by foolishness. They are quick to label Jackasses like Rudy Guilliani as heroes. Rev. Al Sharpton summoned it up when he said that even Bozo the clown could have done what Rudy did during 9/11-wearing a face mask with megaphone on hand What a clown!

        • The lucky one

          While I do agree with Sharpton’s observation his personal credibility is less than zero.

          • OG Bricks

            I believe Guilliani’s has overtaken Al Sharpton’s. While Sharpton is making amends with his past, Guilliani is sinking deeper into oblivion.

        • bernieo

          Yelling into a bullhorn made Bush a credible leader to the doofuses in the MSM.

          As for Rudy, how can the guy who insisted on putting the office of emergency management at 7 World Trade Center -despite warnings that it made no sense to locate it at a known target for terrorists – be deemed a hero.? He refused to put it in nearby Brooklyn because that would have been less convenient for him. No surprise that that critical office could not function on 9/11. They had to evacuate and the building later collapsed when the diesel fuel stored there to fuel the office caught fire. The media was too enamoured with their feel good “Rudy is a hero” storyline to tell the public what a self absorbed fool he really was so. We have been forced to hear from him ever since.

          • OG Bricks

            I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • The Gug – he sent hundreds to an early death by telling
    “First Responders” that it was safe for them to keep digging in the 9/11
    disaster. Notice that he was not there to assist them. Ask the families of
    these men that died from inhaling these carcinogenic fumes what they think of
    the Gug.

  • atc333

    Nicely put. Rudy should have bowed out years ago while he had respect. . Better to have people wonder about you and your though patterns, rather than open your mouth and removing all doubt.

  • The lucky one

    “the only sensible response is to scream “Arghh!” while banging one’s head against a wall.” I’d rather scream booyah while banging Rudy’s head against the wall.
    The “heroic” Rudy was always a myth. How many people did he aid at the Towers?

  • FT66

    Those who can say “I love America” loudly, are those who sacrifice their lives, go and fight for the country. And those who sacrifice themselves to run a lengthy campaign, win the election and put their lives in the hands of others to protect them. Those who wear daily a pin, go to work, it is only about them and feeding their families. People like Rudy Giuliani who wore a mask to prevent dust, and who went to console the victims after 9/11 happened, were on duty like any other though no one expected and liked 9/11 to occur. People like Giuliani shouldn’t take such a horrible event boasting himself what he did.

  • Tony Torres

    I want to be POTUS 9/11,things are bad 9/11,9/11,9/11,9/11. The man is so full of himself his eyes are brown 9/11,9/11,9/11.

  • Pi_Boson

    Rudy as very agile at wearing his anal sphincter as a hat.

  • Antonioguapo

    Giuliani has always been part of the problem–he’s a mockery of decency and American values.

  • Mike Brown

    Were focusing on the wrong individual. It’s the non-committal responses of Republican presidential hopefuls who demonstrate, ipso facto, a lack of principle.and integrity who we should be condemning.

  • highpckts

    So give the jerk no air time! Ignore him! The press can’t do that because it sells to the more feeble minded of the population! God forbid the media did it’s job and reported something true and revelant! This guy is a has been and can’t stand being shunted aside for the ignoramous that he is!

  • option31

    Giuliani heroic? When? running to get in front of a microphone or camera does not make one heroic. Using that logic every politician is heroic. NY media made him what he was, not any of his actions. He was mayor of NYC, he just happened to have the right job at the right time. He’s always been a fool but some how he’s been able to find people more foolish – ie those that he more than a fool.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Mr. Pitts: You continue to be most favorite columnist. When I read your columns, I always wish that i wrote that! Our local right leaning newspaper carries your column about twice a month. We are treated to Cal Thomas twice a week and various other righties. I usually look here for your words of wisdom. About 12years ago, i was taking a graduate class and wrote a paper on Rudy. I admired him at that time. I’m taking his book to the book sale this year. He has lost it.