Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Rudy Giuliani’s Real Legacy

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To the Editor:

Re “Rudy Giuliani Was Always Like This,” by Jamelle Bouie (column, Aug. 20):

History teaches us many things, but the tragic downfall of “America’s mayor” reminds us that clever P.R., along with sudden media infatuation, should always be viewed with skepticism.

I stood with Mayor David Dinkins when he faced what could only be characterized as a racist police riot, which Mr. Bouie recalls in his column.

New York is a very different place than it was in 1992, and the N.Y.P.D. is, thankfully, a very different police department. But the fact that Mr. Giuliani never apologized for his fiery speech at that police protest, where other attendees shouted extremely vitriolic and racially insulting taunts at Mayor Dinkins, should not have been forgotten after Sept. 11, when so many embraced Mr. Giuliani as “America’s mayor.” No, Mr. Giuliani was never really “America’s mayor.”

I wish more could remember David Dinkins as the epitome of dignity in very difficult times, and ensure his place in history as a trailblazer who made us proud of his leadership.

Ken Sunshine
New York
The writer served as a chief of staff for Mayor David Dinkins.

To the Editor:

When we look at Rudy Giuliani today, we see a pathetic shell of a former leader once known for his fearless and creative crime fighting. He was not only a great crime fighter in New York City, but a leader who, through his first police commissioner, Bill Bratton, and Mr. Bratton’s brilliant staff, showed the entire nation how to fight street crime.

They chose to focus on career criminals, knowing that a small percentage of recidivist felons committed most of the serious crimes in New York. Mr. Giuliani also led the effective effort to declare war on white collar crime, Wall Street insider trading and organized crime. Through the creative use of the RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), he led the fight to destroy the power of all five Mafia families, something few thought was possible.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Rudy Giuliani was the most effective crime-fighter in modern U.S. history. Of course, he couldn’t have been successful without Mr. Bratton and his team, as well as the hardworking federal prosecutors in the Southern District.

When I hear the talking heads proclaim that Rudy Giuliani was always a pathetic creep with no respect for our justice system, I know they are wrong. He changed when his lust for power obliterated his respect for the law and desire to serve the public.

Michael J. Gorman
The writer is a retired N.Y.P.D. lieutenant and an attorney.

To the Editor:

While I appreciate Jamelle Bouie’s importantly corrective column on Rudy Giuliani’s supposed “sudden change” from hero to criminal, he doesn’t mention many of Mr. Giuliani’s worst offenses as mayor.

He leaves out Mr. Giuliani’s blackmailing the Brooklyn Museum in September 1999 by threatening to pull the city’s financial support if it didn’t cancel a provocative art exhibition that he never even visited — all to curry favor with Catholic voters. So much for the First Amendment, which he now claims covers his lies about the 2020 presidential election.

It leaves out how he “cracked down” ruthlessly on misdemeanors to woo “law and order” voters, resulting in the harsh arrests of citizens from teens to adults for minor violations, including jumping turnstiles and drinking in public.

And after Sept. 11 he actually did nothing that any other mayor wouldn’t have done in the wake of such an attack.

Now, he seeks to get away with his actions during the 2020 election by dismissing his and others’ outrageous federal offenses as “non-crimes.” “America’s mayor?” As New Yorkers used to say, “Go tell it to Sweeney!”

Jud Newborn
Plainview, N.Y.
The writer served as the founding historian of New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Trump’s Mug Shot

To the Editor:

Re “Trump is Booked at Jail in Atlanta in Election Case” (front page, Aug. 25):

Seeing Donald Trump’s mug shot took me back to when I was a young girl about 11. I remember sitting in front of our bedroom’s big round mirror making faces. I would practice forever looking angry, happy, pouting, weird, etc., having a great time.

I’ll bet that’s what Mr. Trump did too, practice in the mirror just like me when I was 11, getting ready for his mug shot. He came up with just the right look to scare us, to look very angry, tough, menacing. Boo!

Carolina C. Butler
Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Debate Over a Prosthetic Nose to Portray Leonard Bernstein

To the Editor:

Re “Leonard Bernstein’s Children Defend ‘Maestro’ Makeup” (Weekend Arts, Aug. 18):

You report that Mr. Bernstein’s children have come to the defense of the actor Bradley Cooper, who chose to wear a prosthetic nose in order to enhance his physical resemblance to their father, who was Jewish, in an upcoming biopic. That his children needed to do so is a wearisome sign of the times.

I understand the sensitivities here, but it is not as if Mr. Cooper were playing Shylock, a fictional religious avatar with no known visage; he is playing a man who actually lived, a person graced with what his children lovingly call a “nice, big nose.” So in pursuit of the actor’s sine qua non, verisimilitude, Mr. Cooper used every tool at his disposal.

A schnoz like Mr. Bernstein’s could dictate his choice of glasses, deform his self-image, even alter the way he plays the piano. It was Mr. Cooper’s job to stop at nothing to understand the man and to illuminate the individual humanity that is the antidote to bias against groups.

Consumers, so often patronized, ought to feel grateful for having been regarded as sophisticated enough to appreciate which side the artist is on.

David D. Turner
Canadensis, Pa.
The writer is an actor.

To the Editor:

You write that there is an “increasing consensus” that an actor’s identity should correspond to that of the character she plays.


Acting is about imagination — about becoming someone other than yourself. It is not autobiography.

In every case, it is talent — not identity — that should determine who wins which roles. That’s the only consensus there should be.

Susie Linfield

Judged for Remaining Childfree

To the Editor:

Re “We Just Met, So Don’t Try to Read My Mind” (Sunday Styles, Aug. 20), about a conversation with a stranger about not wanting kids:

I grew up at a time when it was still taken for granted that every woman wanted children. But I grew up in poverty and I never wanted children; escape from poverty and independence were my priorities. And I was self-aware enough to know that I wouldn’t be particularly good at the job, anyway.

No one ever doubted my lack of desire for motherhood, but what I did encounter were subtle displays of superiority, almost a contempt, for my failure to take on the exalted job of mothering. Apparently, I was a lesser woman.

It really rankled. Several times I very nearly said, “Oh, really? All you did was follow animal instinct. You honestly think that’s a loftier achievement?” I never actually said it. And I know what a difficult job it is and respect any woman who takes it on and does it well.

But it’s not a superior choice; it’s a choice. Period. Besides, just like any job, what matters is not getting the job but how well you do it.

Linda Strang

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