Giuliani is a punk, un-invite him

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Ben Gore ’05

I am continually amazed at what jerks the people who run this school are. If it’s not bad enough that they’re working to destroy the campus community with an ineffective lockdown and the universally disliked commons system, now they continue their habit of inviting strikingly inappropriate speakers for major events on campus. Rudy Giuliani is going to be the speaker at my graduation ceremony and it’s almost enough to make me move my college career into its sixth year.

In the “article” about the selection in the paper, Eric Davis noted that this is the class who began their college career more or less on September 11 and Giuliani, being one of the most recognizable figures associated with that period, was a good choice to invite. But Giuliani, far from being a moral authority and important symbol for this country, is an authoritarian, a racist and a shill for a president that many, if not most, students here find morally reprehensible.

In the school’s press release they trumpet Giuliani’s “achievements” as mayor of New York City. He reduced crime rates dramatically. He “rejuvenated” neighborhoods. He cut taxes. Bravo. This press release, understandably, represents the white New York elite’s view of things – understandably because many of the people that call the shots here, the Trustees, are white billionaire New Yorkers. This view of Giulani’s tenure is racist. Why? Because the crime reduction that he achieved – and much of it was due to the overall drop in the use of crack cocaine during the 1990s and not his policies – was based on a campaign of brutality and intimidation against the poor and non-white inhabitants of the city. Even while police murdered an unarmed Haitian immigrant and sodomized a prisoner with a plunger, the mayor disbanded the New York City committee investigating police brutality.

That “rise in property values” and “redevelopment,” while a lovely thing for the real estate speculators on the Board of Trustees, is also called gentrification and represents the efforts of the rich to displace the poor. Giulani cracked down on street vendors, depriving many people of their sole source of income. He solved the homelessness problem by authorizing the police to harass them into invisibility. Bravo. Before Sept. 11 Rudolph Giuliani was a controversial politician, and to many people who were not in the elite class, he was coming to be considered a fascist. Then came Sept. 11 and our world became topsy turvy and we looked to strong figures to anchor our reality for us. Giuliani was there so the rest of the country was introduced to him in the context of an ingathering of national unity and saw him be comforting and steadfast. This image is why he is being brought to Middlebury to speak during our graduation.

But what did he do with that good will the American people granted him? He used it to ruthlessly and shamelessly exploit our fear and emotions about terrorism. He helped bring the Republic National Convention to New York. He campaigned relentlessly to sell the most authoritarian president in history to the American people and help perpetuate a climate of fear conducive for authoritarian rule. I say that this is a habit of the College administration because there is a precedent for this. During the fall of 2002 they invited Ari Fleischer, then feeding a continual stream of lies to the American people conflating Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, to receive an alumni achievement award. Mr. Fleischer certainly accomplished a lot, and deserved that award. But why did he need to receive it during a period when our country was being fractured in ways not seen since the early 1970s, not in spite of but because of his work? That was inappropriate. And a crowd equivalent to nearly two thirds of the student body turned out to say so. The College administration inadvertently got their school onto CNN for a day as the first major campus to protest against the war. Bravo. Your idiocy was the anti-war movement’s success.

This school claims to like diversity and the search for truth. Why then are we inviting a man who was a symbol of racism and police brutality to many people throughout the 1990s? Why are we inviting a man who used his powerful emotional appeal to campaign for George W. Bush, the man who has done more violence to the concepts of “truth” and “reality” than any other person in recent memory?

The invitation of Giuliani, the glowing, biased press release on his behalf and the shameful piece of faux journalism in The Campus are all glaring examples of why Middlebury remains a haven of the white elites of the Northeast and not the crucible of diversity that our Web site and College catalogue pretend we are. I think it would be a gallant step towards remaking the image of this institution to un-invite Giuliani. The commencement speaker should be someone who can speak with moral clarity and send the graduating class on their way with uplifting words. It is an insult to a large portion of the graduating class to force us to listen to someone we find morally reprehensible. For goodness sake, can’t we just go back to Superman and Mr. Rogers?