Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, embraces then mayoral candidate Michael Bloomberg on the steps of City Hall in New York, in this file photo of Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001.
It seems like a low blow -- and, on analysis, it is.
Speaking to a gathering of orthodox Jewish voters in Borough Park, with Mayor Bloomberg at his side, the former mayor warned: “This city could very easily be taken back in a very different direction, it could very easily be taken back to the way it was with the wrong political leadership.’’
The Crown Heights riots in 1991 polarized that community and caused deep anxiety throughout the city. But we got over it. The tensions in Crown Heights subsided -- and the city has been relatively quiet in recent years, ethnic-tension wise. Relatively.
Giuliani is the man who, even before he was elected mayor, stirred cheers among many hundreds of police officers at a rowdy City Hall rally in 1992. Giuliani screamed an obscenity to describe how he felt about Mayor Dinkins’ proposal for a civilian board to review police conduct.
One can wonder how constructive is former Mayor Giuliani’s effort to help Mayor Bloomberg now. Giuliani told his audience the other day: “This community remembers the fear and the worry and the crimes and great fear of going out at night and walking the streets and we had changed all that.”
Not surprisingly his remarks have stirred an angry reaction among supporters of the Democratic candidate for mayor, Comptroller Bill Thompson. State Senator Eric Adams said: “It is a blatant attempt to terrorize New Yorkers and stir up divisive emotions.”
Mayor Bloomberg responded: “We’ve successfully resisted attempts to divide this city for the past eight years. I’ve worked well with virtually everyone. I don’t point fingers. I work to lower the volume, not raise it, and I’m not going to try to raise it now.”
Thompson said: “The mayor and Rudy Giuliani have resorted to the politics of division, to the politics of fear.”
Was Giuliani trying to play a race card? Whether the former prosecutor is guilty or innocent of that charge, Giuliani’s remarks about Crown Heights amount to dangerous, combustible stuff.
Bloomberg doesn’t need that kind of talk -- and neither does Thompson.
This is a diverse city. And its citizens generally get along well. We don’t need Rudy poking around in the embers of old racial tensions and trying to stir things up.