Archive for July 15th, 2010

Sea-Green Incorruptible

I think Rudy Giuliani is a bigot. I don’t mean he hates Jews, Negroes, or Italians. I mean, bigotry is the feeling that people need to be hounded off the face of the earth. Bigotry is not prejudice; it’s a commitment to erase from the face of the earth people that you don’t happen to like.

When I first met Diane Giacalone, she said to me, “Are you going to compare me with Robespier-re?” So I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “When you called Rudy Giu-liani ‘a sea-green incorruptible.'” Now, what fascinated me was, how did she know where that came from? I mean, [New York] is a city of eight million people. There could be no more than twenty who ever read all the way through Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution, which, by the way, is the most wonderful book I’ve read in years. Anyway, she knew where this remark came from.

Now, if you say to Giacalone, “I think the witness you’ve served up is absolutely repellent to every civilized man,” she will say to you, “All right, but where else can I get a witness?” But if you say to Giuliani—I remember, he said to me during the Friedman trial, “What did you think of Lindenauer?” And I said he was so awful that I had been saving a line for ten years, and that was, “I have read Louis-Ferdinand Celine and I have communed with Roy Cohn and I will say to you that he is the worst ambulant creature that I have ever seen. Period.” Now, I’m not proud of that line because it’s stolen from Disraeli, who said of somebody, “I have known Bulwer-Lytton and I have read Cicero and I will tell you that he is the most conceited man I have ever known.”

Giuliani said to me, “How could you say that? Lindenauer is very sorry for what he did.” Now I’ll give Giacalone one credit. She knew these guys weren’t the least bit sorry for what they did. They were in a jam; they turned in their friends. But Giuliani believes this, he really does believe in the shriven soul, in the penitent. Such men pile the faggots under the feet of anybody who comes into their path.

He’s a “sea-green incorruptible.” I just don’t like him. I don’t like his pale face, his pale eyes. And I don’t like him. I don’t think anybody goes to glory if Giuliani wins a case.

—Murray Kempton


When I Worked

July 2010
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