What New Yorkers know about Rudy Giuliani that Coloradans shouldLink.
When Rudolph Giuliani awoke on the morning of September 11, 2001, his political career was in the toilet. Nearing the end of his second term as mayor of New York City, a tenure marred by conflict and personal scandal, his approval rating was in the dismal 30th percentile, and he was term-limited from running again. He dropped out of a 2000 Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Besides, no New York City mayor had gone on to higher office since 1868. Newsweek referred to pre-9/11 Rudy as “unpopular” and “irrelevant.”
New York magazine reported that on the morning of September 11, while breakfasting with Bill Simon, who was considering a 2002 gubernatorial bid in California, Giuliani told him, “I could endorse your opponent. That might help you more.”
What a difference a day can make.
Later that day, the American public was introduced to Giuliani, covered in soot, addressing his city with a strength and poise not lacking the emotional weight of the tragedy. He was on the scene, not holed up in a bunker, and he commanded from the streets, just as at-risk as the people he was charged to serve. Holding impromptu press conferences amongst falling buildings and chaos, he displayed the valor of a true leader. That day, even New Yorkers who had long called their mayor a “fascist” and “Adolph Giuliani” loved Rudy.
By the end of the day, when Giuliani retired to a friend’s apartment where he’d been staying since separating from his second wife, he had transformed, in image at least, into “Rudy the Rock” and “America’s Mayor.” One has to wonder if his presidential hopes were rekindled as he read Winston Churchill before falling asleep.
Today, Giuliani is the front-runner of the GOP’s presidential primaries. In a recent CNN poll, Arizona Senator John McCain trails Giuliani by more than 10 points. As improbable as it may seem that Republicans would nominate a pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay-rights divorcee from the Northeast, they just might. Those hot-button social issues are not as hot with the conservative base in a post-9/11 world; all of the GOP’s front-runners — including McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — are perceived as moderate on social issues. America’s Mayor may very well be America’s next president.
That concept is very difficult for many New Yorkers to grasp. After living under Giuliani’s tyranny for eight years, many are concerned that America doesn’t know the real Rudy, the “9/10 Rudy,” as he’s been dubbed.
“Giuliani was a frustrated and not very popular mayor on September 10, 2001,” Slate editor Jacob Weisberg writes. “Today, most New Yorkers do see him as a hero, but also a self-sabotaging, thin-skinned bully. To put it more bluntly, we know he’s a bit of a dictator.”
Before we march America’s Mayor into the highest office in the land, perhaps blinded by the shimmer of 9/11 heroism, it’s a good idea to know the 9/10 Rudy as New Yorkers do, because as president, he could do for Colorado, and the rest of the country, what he did for New York City — for better or worse.
RUDY WAS HEROIC AMIDST A MESS HE HELPED TO CREATE
To suggest that Rudy Giuliani in any way caused the events of 9/11 would be a ridiculous implication. Even suspicions that he had prior knowledge of the terrorist plots are paranoiac conspiracy theories at best. But the fact remains that, as mayor, Giuliani made decisions and ignored issues that tragically complicated the city’s ability to respond to the attacks.
Giuliani told Time magazine in its 2001 “Person of the Year” profile that he “assumed from the time I came into office that New York City would be the subject of a terrorist attack,” largely because the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993. So in 1996 he established the Office of Emergency Management to coordinate rescue efforts, especially to “ease the long-standing disaster-scene turf battle between police and fire.” He even built a $13 million emergency command center for OEM and ran drills. But, stubbornly ignoring overwhelming advice against it, he built the command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, which fell.
The image of a heroic Rudy leading from the debris-covered streets that’s been ingrained in minds all over the world is a result of that short-sightedness: The command center, or “Rudy’s Bunker,” as New Yorkers called it, was never used on September 11.
Without a command center, and with shoddy communication equipment, the fire department and police could not adequately coordinate with each other or with other rescue units. Plus, Giuliani lead the top brass away from their makeshift command center. Police knew the towers were going to fall as firemen rushed in, resulting in the deaths of 343 firefighters.
9/11 Commission member John F. Lehman called the city’s “command and control and communications…not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city.” Still, in his book Leadership, Giuliani calls the OEM “one of the most important decisions I made.”
GIULIANI PUT THE REHABILITATION OF COMMERCE ABOVE SAFETY AND MOURNING
To a congressional panel in late June, former Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman addressed accusations that she withheld information from city workers and volunteers on the dangers of the dust at Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan for political reasons: to get the New York Stock Exchange up and running, as mandated by the White House.
Since 9/11, an ever-increasing number of people have suffered from chronic respiratory disease and rare forms of cancer believed to be the result of exposure to the toxic dust at Ground Zero. Mount Sinai Medical Center released a study last September showing 70 percent of the 9,500 World Trade Center responders who were studied had a new or worsened respiratory symptom. Additionally, tens of thousands of people are thought to be affected.
Since cleanup was a city-run operation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, had no jurisdiction that allowed them to require workers to wear respirators, as it did at the Pentagon cleanup. Whitman could have wrangled control of the scene, but Giuliani was directly in charge of mandating respirator use. He didn’t.
In the weeks following 9/11, Giuliani quickly turned coat from mourning to moving on. After an October memorial, he removed from the site 75 percent of the firefighters still searching for human remains at Ground Zero, and installed a “scoop and dump” operation using heavy equipment, moving everything to a Staten Island landfill. Firefighters rose in anger. Bodies were found in the landfill. In response to the firefighters’ protest, Giuliani sent in the cops, who physically fought and arrested firemen. Giuliani then ordered the arrest of two fire-union leaders, one of whom called Giuliani a “fascist.”
“The mayor fails to realize that New York is not a dictatorship,” a Uniformed Firefighters Association statement read. “The message being sent from City Hall is that if you don’t agree with this administration, we will get you.”
A federal lawsuit brought by a group of families charges “that the city negligently dumped body parts and other human remains from Ground Zero in Fresh Kills garbage facility on Staten Island.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters plans to take aim at Giuliani’s presidential campaign. Harold A. Schaitberger, the union’s president has said, “Our disdain for him is not about issues or a disputed contract, it is about a visceral, personal affront to the fallen.”
GIULIANI PARTNERS CLAIMS SHADY ASSOCIATIONS
By 9/11, New York City mayoral primaries were in full swing, but the primary election was delayed as a result of the attacks. Drawing further comparisons to a banana-republic dictator, Giuliani lobbied to circumvent the New York Constitution in order to reign a third term. His argument: New York needed him more than ever, although just one percent of New Yorkers were displaced by the attacks and the city never truly “shut down.” When the third term didn’t fly, Giuliani sought an additional three months. No dice.
Meanwhile, he was organizing Giuliani Partners, a security consulting company. In the spirit of the true cronyism he is known for, Giuliani enlisted his close associates. One of them was Bernard Kerik. Starting out as a driver for Giuliani before advancing to commissioner of police — replacing a commissioner who was allegedly fired for taking too much credit for the decrease in crime rates — Kerik was recommended by Giuliani to serve as head of Homeland Security. But during the vetting process for that position, Kerik’s shady dealings became apparent. Kerik later pled guilty to accepting bribes and loans from developers with mob ties. Many speculate Kerik is “mobbed up,” an interesting associate for Giuliani, a man who built his reputation prosecuting mob leaders, Wall Street swindlers and corrupt cops.
Along with Kerik, Alan Placa, a former Catholic priest excommunicated from the church for accusations of sexual abuse as well as covering up the abuse of other priests, is a partner at Giuliani Partners. Recently, Giuliani stated that Placa will not be fired as a result of the coverups. Petty in comparison but still worth noting is Pasquale J. D’Amuro, a former FBI administrator and Giuliani Partners partner who has admitted to stealing artifacts from Ground Zero.
While Giuliani refuses to talk about his clients, the work he does for them, or the cash he’s made with Giuliani Partners, a Washington Post exposé details how Giuliani has collected millions using his connections and 9/11 reputation to attract shady clientele, such as the makers of OxyContin, who he personally represented, and a client who has admitted to smuggling kilos of cocaine from Columbia to Florida on a private jet.
As mayor, Giuliani was a well-off public servant. As globetrotting consultant and famed 9/11 hero, he’s worth tens of millions of dollars.
GIULIANI RID NEW YORK OF CRIME — AND FERRETS — WITH AN IRON FIST
“Freedom” is so closely connected with 9/11that the new towers being erected are named after the principle. Here is how America’s Mayor views freedom:
“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”
If Americans west of the Hudson River know anything about Giuliani beyond 9/11 heroism, it’s that he “cleaned up New York,” which he genuinely did. New York feels, and is, significantly safer since Giuliani’s reign. What New Yorkers know is that cleanup came at a cost: Times Square became Disneyland. Homeless were arrested and children taken from parents. Jaywalkers were strip-searched. Ferrets were banned. The list is long.
Giuliani’s approach to crime, which lowered the rate by 60 percent, is known as the “broken window” concept: One broken window in a building leads to more. So, if a neighborhood is willing to tolerate graffiti, jaywalking, beer drinking on stoops, turnstile jumpers, etc., then murder, crack dealing, robbery and other, more serious crimes will ensue. But what followed was an extreme zero-tolerance policy, resulting in almost 70,000 people suing the city for police abuses, like strip-searching jaywalkers.
“If I had to sum it up in a few minutes, I would say he’s a control freak, and the control is over your life,” says Ed Koch, former U.S. congressman and two-term mayor of New York. Koch supported Giuliani during his two mayoral campaigns, but the two had a notorious falling out over policy. Koch has since authored Giuliani: Nasty Man.
During Giuliani’s term, police wore T-shirts with intimidating statements, such as the Hemmingway quote, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man.”
But most of the crime reduction was achieved during his first term, when the economy was fairing well. By the second term, Giuliani’s agenda became bizarre. He outlawed ferrets and banned squeegee men, panhandlers who move through stopped or slowed traffic soliciting to wash car windows for change. He built massive networks to track graffiti artists. He lined streets with formidable barricades to prevent jaywalking.
“For Rudy, governing New York was conquering New York,” Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University, told Newsweek. “He thrived on confrontation.”
Giuliani’s zero-tolerance “quality-of-life crackdown,” which allowed for anyone to be stopped and patted down, raised the ire of even the police.
James Savage, then-president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, told Daily News, “If we don’t strike a balance between aggressive enforcement and common sense, it becomes a blueprint for a police state and tyranny.”
LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE’S TOUGH? TRY MEAN
Rudy Giuliani’s temperament is well known in New York. He’s quick to anger, an egomaniac, very stubborn, throws tantrums and is generally, well, mean.
Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter: “His ridiculously thin skin and mile-wide mean streak were not allegations made by whiners and political opponents. They were traits widely known to his supporters.”
Giuliani was on a talk show when a man called to contest his ban on ferrets. He told the woman, among other things, that her love of ferrets meant there was “something deranged” about her. “The excessive concern you have for ferrets is something you should examine with a therapist.” He also told her she has a “sickness” and is “very, very sad.” All because she wanted a ferret.
When protestors took to the streets after 23-year-old Guinea immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot by police 40 times while, unarmed, he reached for his wallet, Giuliani claimed the protestors were upset because of “their own personal inadequacies.” He also illegally opened police-shot immigrant Patrick Dorismond's sealed police record and declared the victim “no altar boy.” Dorismond's mother produced proof that he once was, in fact, an altar boy — at Giuliani’s church.
Giuliani also refused to meet with people he didn’t agree with, like civil rights groups, the ACLU and others.
“He wasn’t a great mayor because he didn’t like people,” Koch told The New York Post. “He wouldn’t meet with people he didn’t agree with. That’s pretty crazy.”
Giuliani once tangled the city in an expensive legal battle after ordering the removal of bus advertisements for New York magazine that read, “Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn’t taken credit for.” (Remember how he fired the police commissioner for receiving too much credit for crime reduction?)
RUDY’S WHITE HOUSE WOULD MAKE A GREAT TV SHOW
Giuliani left his second wife, Donna Hanover, to be with Judy Nathan, the nurse who cared for him while he had cancer. Hanover heard the news at the same time as the rest of the world: during a press conference Giuliani held to announce the couple’s separation. Later that day, Hanover called a conference of her own, outing Giuliani as a liar and saying he’d been sleeping with a staff member, his communications director, as well as Nathan. His response: that the impotency he suffered as a result of cancer treatment ruined his marriage.
Giuliani’s first wife was also his second cousin, and he has stated that he thinks a marriage works better when a mistress is involved. Should he be elected, he has said that Nathan will be a close advisor and can sit in on cabinet meetings if she wishes.
Giuliani’s 21-year-old son, Andrew, currently won’t talk to him.
Bush’s misspeaks and idiocy, though frightening, have been a source of entertainment, but a Rudy administration would be downright bizarre. He’s prone to speak off the cuff, making inappropriate statements, and he’s not reserved in sharing his personal life, which if it continues along the same historical path, will surely become tabloid fodder.
Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump
Then there’s the drag: America’s Mayor has dressed as Marilyn Monroe for a press dinner, donned fishnets with the Rockettes and allowed Donald Trump to nuzzle his neck while in drag.
There’s never a dull moment with Giuliani.
CAREFUL — HE COULD WIN
New Yorker contributor Hendrik Kertzberg commented in the weeks following 9/11 that “in cheering Rudy, we have also been cheering our city, and our firefighters and our cops and our rescue workers. … Because [Rudy] was a lame duck, he was a soaring eagle.”
Capitalizing on his 9/11 fame, referencing it in every speech and at every stop on his campaign, Giuliani claimed every cheer for himself. It’s more likely that Americans declared Giuliani the “9/11 hero” because President Bush was AWOL and Dick Cheney was hiding in a bunker when the country was looking for a leader. Giuliani filled a void, and, arguably, no other American heroes of his proportion have emerged since 9/11. He hopes to ride that reputation all the way into the White House.
“Colorado is a state that can vote either way,” he not-so-perceptively told the Denver Post in June. As of April, Coloradans had contributed $102,101 dollars to Rudy’s campaign. They gave about $200,000 more to Mitt Romney but less to John McCain. As of March, Giuliani had raised $18 million nationally, $3 million less than Romney, but $4 million more than McCain.
If Rudy wins the GOP nomination, as many early polls are predicting, he stands a good chance of winning the presidency, and he’s already stated that his plan for Iraq would double the number of troops that Bush has dedicated to his “surge.”
America’s Mayor as America’s President could be much more dangerous than George W. Bush.
Below are a list of sources used in researching this article. What you've just read is the tip of the iceberg. Those interested in learning more about Giuliani's bungling of 9/11 rescue efforts are encouraged to read The Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins.
ABC News Transcripts of “20/20,” “The Next First Lady?; Rudy Giuliani wants Judith in cabinet meetings,” reported by Barbara Walters, March 30, 2007.
ArtVoice, “Getting a Grip: Giuliani, Altar Boys & Weasels,” by Michael I Niman, Volume 6, Number 25. Link to article
CNN, “Paula Zahn Now,” transcripts from March 30, 2007
Daily News (New York), “Cop Rebellion Against Safir,” by John Marzulli and William K. Rashbaum, April 14, 1999
The Denver Post, “Obama Tops in Colorado Cash,” by Karen E. Crummy, April 17, 2007 Link to article
The Houston Chronicle, “A Wish Upon Times Square; Disney’s Move Brought Life back to Famed District,” by Harry Berkowitz, October 3, 2004
GothomGazette.com, “Giuliani’s Legacy: taking Credit for things He Didn’t Do,” by Wayne Barrett Link to article
The Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins, HarperCollins
Los Angeles Times, “Giuliani foes plan to use 9/11 against him; Critics want to mar his hero image and hobble his candidacy by questioning his moves,” by Peter Wallsten, April 8, 2007.
Mother Jones, “A Message to You, Rudy Giuliani,” by JoAnn Wypijewski, May/June 2007 Link to article
The New Republic, “Character Flaw,” by Jonathan Chait, May 7, 2007 Link to article
The New Republic, “Party Boy: Why the GOP’s Future Belongs to Rudy,” by Thomas B. Edsall, May 21, 2007 Link to article
The New Yorker, “Rudy’s Rules,” by Hendrik Hertzberg, October 8, 2001 Link to article
New York magazine, “Rudy Tuesday: It’s a long way from 9/11/01 to 11/04/08. New Yorkers may be surpriaed by how far Rudy Giuliani has come already. But that’s only because we know him,” by Stephen Rodrick, March 5, 2007. Link to article
The New York Post, “Rudy Turns Up Heat; In Hitler Flap,” by Tom Topousis, October 19, 1998
The New York Post, “Railing at Rudy; Koch Vows to Wreck Ex-Ally’s Prez Run,” by David Seifman, May 13, 2007
The New York Times, “A Nation Challenged: The Firefighters; Second Union Leader Is Charged with Trespassing in a Demonstration at Ground Zero,” by Robert McFadden, November 5, 2001
The New York Times, “Big Part of OxyContin Profit Was Consumed by Penalties,” by Barry Meier, June 19, 2007 Link to article
New York Times, “Buildings Rise from Rubble while Health Crumbles,” by Anita gates, September 11, 2006
Newsweek, “Master of Disaster,” by Jonathan Darman, March 12, 2007 Link to article
PR Newswire US, “DNC: Under Rudy’s Watch, Culture of Spending and Fiscal Recklessness Thrived,” June 20
Rolling Stone, “Guiliani: Worse Than Bush,” June 2007 Link to article
Time Magazine, “Person of the Year,” by various, December 31, 2001 Link to article
USA Today, “Conflicts Roil New York Firefighters,” by Rick Hampson, November 8, 2001
Washington Post, “In Private Sector, Giuliani Parlayed Fame Into Wealth,” by John Solomon and Matthew Mosk, May 13, 2007 Link to article
Vanity Fair, “Crazy for Rudy,” by Michael Wolf, June 2007. Link to article
The Washington Post, “Looking Back to ‘9/10 Rudy,’ and ahead to 11/08,” by Howard Kurtz, March 5, 2007 Link to article
And here's one of the linked articles, by my long-beloved Wyp:
A Message To You, Rudy Giuliani
How the zero-tolerance policies of "America's Mayor" set us up for the Patriot Act and Guantanamo.
May/June 2007 Issue
in miami last fall, amid news that corrupt housing authorities and developers had deprived thousands of poor people of promised homes, Ivan Martinez began projecting immense images against the walls of the luxury towers that have sprouted with wanton ambition in the footprint of demolished low-income housing. No one commissioned these images; Martinez is a guerrilla artist, an outlaw. As governments across America have imposed increasingly harsh penalties against postering, graffiti, and their requisite tools (New York has made graffiti-writing a felony in some instances, as has Ohio, convicting a man for spraying "Troops Out Now" on a highway overpass; Richmond, Virginia, threatens its citizens from the backs of buses, "Use a spray can, go to jail"), wall-size projections have developed as a fleet-footed alternative. One of Martinez's ephemera featured a running silhouette crying, "Gentrification!!!!" Another showed a man saying, "I love downtown's revitalization, but where are the poor people?" One night as Martinez and two friends were projecting from a moving car, police pulled them over and pointed guns at their heads. He hasn't done a projection since.
Martinez broke no window, destroyed no property. Except through the play of evanescent light, he didn't even "aesthetically alter" property, as some graffiti artists describe their work. No reasonable person would call him a vandal, one of those punks who elicit curses for their indecipherable scrawl. Like them, though, he made an unsanctioned claim on public space, which was enough to get a gun to his head, and shut him up.
Among a thousand political lies, one of the most durable, and lulling, is the assertion, central to a "quality of life" or "broken windows" theory of policing, that graffiti is the first link in a criminal chain that ends in murder. Hammer petty flouting of the law, the theory holds, and violent crime will decline. New York was the pioneer in this. Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins cracked down on graffiti writers in the 1980s and early '90s, but it was Rudolph Giuliani who redefined quality of life in terms of a theory and practice of brute force that has since been adopted by city administrations and police departments across the land. Now the graffiti-murder continuum is widely accepted as fact. New York is officially the safest big city in the country unless one is unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of 50 shots, or 41, or a toilet plunger, from the police. It is also a strangely passive city, its political atmosphere inert. Like the midnight wheat-paster, whose posters about displacement or aids death distinguished the urban vista until the early '90s, the dissenting slogan, the broadsheet alert to action from corner mailboxes, has largely vanished. Giuliani is running for president, and no handicapper counts his easy sacrifice of liberty to security as a political liability. He compares President Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq to his own big-fist approach to New York, and suffers no harm for the implication of that admission: that he pursued a war on part of the city's population while the rest of us became inured to punishment, to brakes on free expression and policing as a way of life.
Many New Yorkers readily embraced Giuliani's zero-tolerance politics more than a dozen years ago. Graffiti can be ugly, after all, or menacing, a gang tag, artless and political only in the sense that any act of rebellion is. Its practitioners were called riffraff, like the beggars and junkies, the sex peddlers and small-time dealers, who could be exiled to the city's far corners, locked up on Rikers Island, or sent upriver to a penitentiary. To sit on a grand jury during those years was to witness a stream of black and brown teenagers arrested for tagging and having a joint in their pocket, wearing "gang colors" and having a Philly blunt, scamming MetroCards, or dealing small amounts of drugs to cops who arranged the sale. Called for such a jury, I told the prosecutor that on principle I wouldn't vote for indictment on any quality-of-life or drug charge. "Don't worry about it," he said, "I'll always get a majority," and he always did.
This was before New York made selling spray-paint to those under 18 a crime and created a database of graffiti writers' tags for surveillance. It was before the city criminalized affixing, "by whatever means," posters, stickers, painted slogans, and postings to almost any surface, and raised the graffiti penalty to as much as $1,000 per hit and/or a year of jail time; before it started rewarding snitches and allowed the sanitation commissioner to subpoena telephone records of numbers that appeared on offending posts. It was before corporate tags and ads impinged everywhere on empty space, and surveillance cameras (3,160 in public housing, approximately 15,000 in Manhattan alone) put privacy in the past tense.
As in New York, communities across the country gave police more reasons to stop and frisk people, hence more opportunity to find drugs as drug laws tightened to put more people away for a longer time. America's prison population nearly doubled in the 1990s, and no one much complained. Prisoners were stripped of legal rights to challenge their conditions, and no one much beyond the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta intervened. State after state restricted the rights of journalists to interview prisoners, and punished prisoner whistleblowers. In the speed of a decade, this self-declared free country had denied more of its people liberty than any country in the world, with stunningly little protest. Having gradually resigned ourselves to the trade-off of liberty for a promise of safety during the supposed good times of the Clinton years, is it surprising that after 9/11 Americans would acquiesce to secret prisons, kangaroo courts, torture as policy, the shredding of habeas corpus and due process, the invasion of our mail and private conversations?
One might retort, Absurd to think graffiti has anything to do with this catalog of restraints! Besides, a city has a right to regulate public space. True, but by such regulation it defines itself. There isn't a great city without vice. The trick has always been to arrange society so that virtue tolerably outweighs it, so life is supple enough to accommodate the floating world where the two overlap, and sanctions are proportionate. Civil libertarians used to joke darkly that under Giuliani, New York became "a First Amendment-free zone." His policing fetish didn't just purge gang tags and porn houses; it closed public spaces to protest and led to a host of other efforts to quash dissent. Most of the latter were reversed in court, but the chill was on. "For the collective impact of such an unprecedented—and unprincipled—assault upon First Amendment values," the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gave Giuliani its first Lifetime Muzzle Award.
More than print, more than blogs or mass marches, outlaw art and political sloganeering are implicating acts, public but intimate, instant messaging for a culture of internal debate, ideological commerce on the cheap. Now in a time of cascading crises, people are cowed. Artists who've produced dissident works mostly show in galleries or huddle their images, "bombing" discreet buildings that like shrines to the dead, like the protest pens into which police herd demonstrators, manage anger into a curiosity. Activists tell my friends at the Public Works Project, which has produced striking graphics for organizations in hope of invigorating the culture of visual dissent, that it's too risky to slap up posters. Last year Public Works made stickers of a bloody handprint labeled "Stop the War!" Protesters wore them on a march but refrained from pasting them on city walls as an after-echo. Later a similar handprint, not bloody, appeared in my neighborhood on multiple panels of a Levi's ad. I bought a fat red marker and drafted a series of lines to run like a chant against indifference along the 18 panels, then asked a friend to act as lookout. "Are you insane?!" she said. Her friend's teenage son had recently been arrested trying this kind of thing a couple of blocks away. Ironically, the crude tags of petty vandals have lately made a comeback. Fear, like polite restraint or getting caught, is for amateurs.
What does it take these days not to be polite, politically speaking? Up to 650,000 Iraqi dead, our government stalking Iran, arrogating to itself the right to pick anyone off the street anywhere in the world, declare him an enemy, put him in prison, scramble his brains—that's not enough? Oh, settle down; ranting is juvenile. And the culture shrivels with our maturity. When anarchist kids spray-painted the Capitol terrace during an antiwar protest in January, liberals scorned the disrespectful "morons." If police had cracked the graffitists' heads or followed conservatives' urgings to hunt them down and imprison them for violence against property, I doubt there'd have been a lament from the throng that marched in pens chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!" Actually, the anarchist tags were not big enough in their disrespect. Two years ago an artist, Jean-Christian Bourcart, projected giant images of Iraq's dead and suffering people onto houses and markets, parked cars, churches in a small New York town at night. "A desperate gesture," he said. I can think of none better. Imagine legions of imitators bathing the Capitol with the light-figures of those disappeared into prison or war or terrible want; disturbing the sheltering vistas of our cities and suburbs, so that we might live with what we pay for and allow until we refuse to live with it.