Rudy Giuliani: The Right’s Latest Poster Boy for Racist Exceptionalism

Rudy Giuliani: The Right’s Latest Poster Boy for Racist Exceptionalism


If Republicans want to shed the marks of extremism and hate that taint their brand, they’ve got a lot of work to do with people like Rudy Giuliani running their mouths.

During a fundraising dinner for potential 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker earlier this week, Giuliani made incendiary remarks about President Obama.  He said, “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.”  The comments drew swift criticism from Democratic politicians and sparked the Twitter hashtag #ObamaLovesAmerica, while all of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates remained silent on the matter, except Marco Rubio who condemned the comments.  When pressed on his remarks by Megyn Kelly in an interview on Fox News, Giuliani repeated his sentiments saying, “From all that I can see of this president, all that I’ve heard of him, he apologizes for America.  He criticizes America.  He talks about the Crusades and how the Christians were barbarians… This is an American president I’ve never seen before.”  Then, in an interview with the New York Times, Giuliani defended himself, saying that his comments were a joke and that they weren’t racist because President Obama was raised by his White mother and grandparents.

Giuliani’s comments weren’t a joke.  They were yet another attempt by another conservative political figure to paint President Obama as un-American and as the “other.” This has been a tactic used by Republican politicians and voters alike to defame the president and to rile the party base since Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2007.  They othered him by characterizing him as a foreigner, as a racial and religious outsider: they said he’s Arab.  He’s Kenyan.  He’s Muslim.  They demanded he produce a birth certificate as proof of citizenship.  Conservative cartoonists depicted him and his wife as jihadists.  Others as monkeys, an image with obvious racial undertones.  While most Republicans are smart enough not to make blatantly racist comments about him in public anymore, they continue to other him by characterizing his politics, too, as foreign: they say he’s a European socialist, if not a communist, who rejects American capitalism.  They say he runs his administration like a monarchy, not a democracy, and describe him as a “king” and a “tyrant.”  And with his comments at the dinner, Giuliani sought to other the president by attacking his cultural upbringing as different from his and the guests in the room and lacking of a patriotic “love of America.”

All of this is done with the aim of delegitimizing Obama’s presidency.  If he is “not like us,” if he is un-American, then, according to the Right, he has no claim to the presidency, they need not respect him, and they are justified in their hate of his otherness – otherness colored, above all else, by his blackness.  Giuliani’s remarks may not be racist in and of themselves, but they certainly lend themselves to the racist agenda to smear the first Black president.  They certainly serve the same function as racist slander.

But the reasons Giuliani cited for his original remarks on the president also reflect his disdain for any facts that challenge his inflated, exceptionalist view of America and of Christianity, a disdain shared by many in the Republican Party.  Belief in American exceptionalism is not unique to the Right, but the Right’s embrace of it is unique in that the ideology is an integral part of conservative politics and personal identity.  Many believe steadfastly that American political, social, and economic ideas and systems are superior to all others, and that the country’s history demonstrates this.  Their exceptional conceptualization of the country, too, is infused with religious significance: they hold that the United States was founded by the Fathers on Christian principles.  They conceive of the United States as, to draw from biblical scripture, the “shining city upon a hill,” a – the – model for all that is good and right in the world, one for all other nations to follow.  This understanding of America informs who conservatives understand themselves to be as American citizens – special people.  So they reject anything and anyone that challenges this understanding.  Thus, Giuliani takes issue when President Obama “apologizes” for, and “criticizes” America because, the way he sees it, there’s nothing to criticize or apologize for.  Thus, he didn’t like it when the president mentioned the Crusades and pointed out that the KKK committed acts of violence on American soil as recently as 50 years ago, because it flew in the face of his belief that Christianity is exempt from religious extremism, that Islam exclusively is the problem.

Giuliani’s criticism of Obama echoes ideas expressed by Oklahoma’s conservative legislature this week when it passed by an overwhelming margin a bill to ban AP US History courses in high schools, or views articulated by the Arizona state legislature in 2010 when it banned all ethnic studies courses.  The author of the Oklahoma bill withdrew it and vowed to resubmit it with amendments after a national controversy erupted, but in justifying the bill, he noted that the AP US History course “only teaches what is bad about America” and depicts the US as a “nation of oppressors and exploiters.”  And Arizona lawmakers in 2010 banned African American, Mexican American, and other ethnic studies courses because teaching students “historical facts of oppression and racism” could produce “racial resentment” against White people among minority students.  In other words, confronting the historical realities of racial minorities in the United States teaches students to challenge the feel-good narrative of American history that conservatives identify with, which makes White people uncomfortable.  The Right, including Rudy Giuliani, is not having that.

As many issues as Rudy Giuliani may actually have with President Obama’s politics, his problem with the president runs deeper than politics.  Giuliani is a man who sought to justify the violation of the rights of hundreds of thousands of Black and brown people who were stopped and frisked in New York City even though police data showed that more than 90% of stops turned up no drugs or weapons and did not result in arrest.  People like him reject anything and anyone that challenges their elitist, ethnocentric, White supremacist view of themselves and of what America was, is, and should be.  As a bi-racial man who identities as Black, President Obama does that with his very being.  Therein lies Rudy Giuliani’s problem.


  1. Giuliani started his political career as a Democrat, he later switched his party registration from Democratic to Independent,and again to Republican….Giuliani also accused President Obama of criticizing his country more than other president’s have done,” He states that Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were, on the other hand, able to provide”constructive criticism” on the United States but still believe in American exceptionalism….Giuliani’s term as Mayor saw allegations of Civil Rights abuses and other police misconduct. There were police shootings of unarmed suspects, and the scandals surrounding the torture of Abner Louima and the killings of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond….Giuliani suported the New York Police Department, by releasing what he called Dorismond’s extensive criminal record to the public, including a sealed juvenile file…The New York Police Department’s fatal shooting of Patrick Dorismond in March 2000 inflamed Giuliani’s already strained relations with the city’s minority communities….Giuliani’s medica life, Romantic life, Marital Life and Political Life all collided at once in a most visible fashion….In 1983 Giuliani wsa appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which was technically a demotion but was sought by Giuliani because of his desire to personally Litigate cases….In this position he first gained National Prominience by prosecuting numerous high-profile cases, resulting in the convictions of Wall Street Figures Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken….He also focused on prosecuting Drug Dealers, Organized Crime, and Corruption in Government…”He amassed a record of 4,152 convictions and 25 reversals. As a Federal Prosecutor, Giuliani was credited with bringing ”The Perp Walk,” parading of suspects in front of the previously Alerted Media, into common use as a prosecutorial tool….”After Giuliani” patented ”The Perp Walk,” the tool was used by increasing numbers of prosecutors Nationwide….Giuliani’s critics claimed he arranged public arrests of people, then dropped charges for lack of evidence on High Profile Cases rather than going to trial….In a few cases,his public arrests of alleged White-Collar Criminals at their work places with charges later dropped or Lessened, sparked controversy, and damaged the reputations of the alleged”Perps”….He claimed that Veteran Stock Trader Richard Wigton of Kidder, Peabody & Co was guilty of insider trading; In February 1987, he had officers handcuff Wigton and marched him through the company’s trading floor, with Wigton in tears…Giuliani had his agents arrest Tim Tabor, a young Arbitrageur and former Colleague of Wigton, so late that he had to stay overnight in jail before posting bond…..Mafia Commission Trial:[February 25,1985- November 19, 1986], Giuliani indicted Eleven Organized Crime Figures, including the Heads of New York’s so called” Five Families” under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act[Rico] on charges including Extortion, Labor Racketeering and Murder for hire….Time Magazine called this”Cases of Cases” possibly” the most Significant Assault on the Infrastructure of Organized Crime since the High Command of The Chicago Mafia was swept away in 1943,” and quoted Giuliani’s stated intention: ”Our approach is to wipe out The Five Families…..Eight defendants were found guilty on all counts and subsequently sentenced on January 13, 1987 to hundreds of years of prison time…This put Giuliani at risk by the families….They called some of his tactics overkill….He was preceded in office by Mayor David Dinkins.