RACE BAITING:Giuliani's politics of fear (39995)

When Rudy Giuliani recently appeared with Mayor Bloomberg at an Orthodox Jewish gathering in Brooklyn, he unleashed a firestorm of incendiary comments. Most alarming for some of his backers was what Bill de Blasio charged as “veiled race baiting” by the former mayor.

“I worried daily that the city might be turned back to the way it was before 1993–and you know exactly what I’m talking about,” Giuliani told the Boro Park Jewish Community Council. “This community remembers the fears, the worries and the crimes–and the great fear of going out at night and walking the streets.”

Such an insinuation was not missed by de Blasio. “If Giuliani is using an openly divisive tactic, Bloomberg has to disavow it,” said de Blasio, the odds-on favorite to become the city’s next public advocate.

City Controller and mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson was equally perturbed by Giuliani and Bloomberg’s remarks.

“I am very disappointed that they have taken a step backward,” Thompson told the Amsterdam News. “This is nothing more than a return to the politics of fear and division by Giuliani. And Mike Bloomberg is engaged in similar tactics. The mayor is merely trying to distract us from his failed policies.”

If African-American supporters of Bloomberg are upset by Giuliani’s comments and his stumping for Bloomberg, only one of them was willing to respond.

“Mayor Bloomberg must unequivocally distance himself from Giuliani’s remarks and his attempts to take New Yorkers back to a place we don’t want to return,” said Milton Allimadi, publisher of the Black Star News and a Bloomberg endorser.

Allimadi said we can “always trust the detestable Giuliani, a miserably failed presidential candidate, to inject race-baiting in New York politics. It’s the language he speaks best; he spoke it throughout his two mayoral terms. He was obviously referring to the administration of David Dinkins, New York’s first African-American mayor.”

Bloomberg, who has had strong relations with African-American leaders throughout his two terms, is going to have a major problem with Giuliani’s comments, Allimadi added, “especially from the African-American community–where he surprisingly polls highly at about 37 percent to Thompson’s 43 percent, according to one report–unless the mayor quickly distances himself from the remarks and repudiates them. Giuliani belongs to the Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican Party.”

Despite repeated efforts asking for statements, there was no response from others who have endorsed Bloomberg, including the Reverends Calvin Butts III of Abyssinian Baptist Church and Floyd Flake of Allen AME and Gary Pierre Pierre, editor of the Haitian Times.

Allimadi said when he attempted to reach Bloomberg, he was sent a transcript of the mayor’s response to Giuliani’s comments.

“I am phenomenally proud of our record of bringing people together from all neighborhoods and every community. And I think we’ve successfully resisted attempts to divide this city for the past eight years. I’ve worked well with virtually everyone; I don’t point fingers. I try to lower the volume and the temperature and not raise it, and I’m not going to start trying to raise it now. I can only speak for my record, and the results, I think, speak for themselves.

“Crime is down 35 percent,” the mayor continued. “We have the best counter-terrorism program in the nation. We’re the safest big city in the country, and–given the opportunity to serve another four years–I’m confident that we can do even better. I’m asking for people’s votes because I believe the next four years can be better than the last eight years, not worse than the last eight years, and I’d appreciate everybody’s support.”