NY Post editorial attacks street artist's Giuliani portraits FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 06:32:38 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  CC Replies to Robert Lederman <ARTISTpres@aol.com>
     For info on the street artist and vendor issues go to:


Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. issued the following
statement in connection to the Post's 6/16/98 editorial which
follows this statement:

Apparently my paintings of the Mayor are beginning to get to
him, as indicated by the Post's editorial page making its second
spirited attack on me in just 31 days [also see 5/17/98 "The
ARTIST Hustle"]. Could it be that the Mayor himself thinks the
dictator analogies are not without merit? Could he be worried that
his climb to national office might fail, brought down not by highly
paid lobbyists or multi-million dollar ad campaigns but by a street
artist? One thing's for certain; if the comparisons I've made were
meaningless no one would be paying any attention to them. It's the
Mayor's own increasingly bizarre behavior, public statements and
policies that make my paintings, only a few of which contain any
reference to Hitler, resonate with the public.

There's one historical point I'd like to make about the Hitler
analogy. Long before Hitler began murdering Europe's Jews he
instituted his own twisted version of urban quality of life. Like the
Mayor's quality of life campaign, vendors, homeless people,
minorities, political activists, artists, radicals and small business
people had their property confiscated, were falsely arrested and
were denied the due process and rights that the German
constitution guaranteed. Hitler was strongly supported by big
business and even in the U.S. he had many enthusiastic supporters
among the wealthy class. Most Germans were as delighted by
Hitler's clean up campaign as New Yorkers once were about
Giuliani's. Hitler was also a big stadium builder, a mean-spirited
control freak and an expert at media manipulation. As Hitler's
reign continued and more and more people became the targets for
his insanity, even his supporters became alarmed. Hitler eventually
had to retreat to his bunker as much to protect himself from the
German people as from the allies.

For my fellow Jews who point to the Mayor's close relationship to
New Yorks' Jewish community as "proof" that he's no Hitler I can
only say that for New York City's minorities and for its poor; for
its street artists, vendors, cabbies and squeegee guys; for its CUNY
students, libraries, hospital workers and community gardeners
Mayor Giuliani is a despotic tyrant and violator of their rights.
Nevertheless I agree, he's still no Hitler, as yet. Give him a national
office, control of the armed forces and the right to appoint
Supreme Court judges though and he may surprise us all.

Perhaps the Mayor's bunker is not such an absurd idea. If he keeps
going in the direction he's now proceeding it may be a good place
to hide from mobs of his fellow New Yorkers.



First things first: The $15-million project that made its laborious
way through every conceivable political-clearance procedure in this
obscenely over-regulated city is not - repeat, not - a secret "bunker"
designed to protect the mayor, his family and his aides in the event
of an apocalypse.

It's an office facility on the 23rd story of an office building that
currently houses the New York bureau of the United States Secret
Service. This emergency command center isn't something out of a
bad $100 million science-fiction movie. There will be no beds in it
for Donna and the Giuliani kids to wait out Godzilla's wrath. There
is no special "list" of officials who will be granted access to the
facility in the event that a "Deep Impact"-like comet comes
streaking toward the earth.

The idea of the facility, which was first proposed in November and
was the subject of hearing after hearing before the City Council
approved it last week, is so simple that most New Yorkers
probably believe something like it already exists.

It will allow the mayor and other relevant officials to gather in the
event of an emergency - a power outage, a phone outage, a massive
water-main break or, most horribly, a terrorist attack. It will have
back-up generators and phone systems so that city, state and
federal officials can respond effectively to a crisis under any
conditions. It will link up the city's cameras - like the ones on
highways and in parks - so that officials can keep an eye on New
York from a central location.

Makes sense? After the World Trade Center bombing and two
sarin-gas scares, who would wish for anything less?

But as all the talk of a non-existent "bunker" indicates - as the use
of the very charged word "bunker" most plainly indicates - the
criticism that is being directed at City Hall has nothing to do with
this plan and everything to do with a disgusting analogy that is
getting appallingly respectful play these days.

We'll say it simply: Just because people don't like Rudy Giuliani
doesn't give them license to compare him to Adolf Hitler.

The Hitler analogy is something that seems to amuse many people
in this city. Cutesy stories have been written and published in the
past week about an art installation onMadison Avenue called No
York in which the mayor is depicted with a Hitler moustache.

This image was first bandied about by an obnoxious twerp who
claims to represent a group called A.R.T.I.S.T. - but which really
ought to be called M.O.R.O.N. - who is outraged that the mayor
attempted to enforce plainly written statutes regarding sidewalk
clutter in front of the Metropolitan Museum. For this, the twerp
(whose name we shall never again use because he deserves no more
public mention) imagines that Rudy Giuliani deserves comparison
with the personification of evil in this century.

The Hitler analogy came trippingly off the tongues of taxi drivers
and street vendors as well, who object to actions taken by the
mayor that may make their lives more difficult. But again, this is
something entirely different from consigning six million Jews to
the ovens and gas chambers.

As the New York Times' gleeful seizure of the "bunker" story
indicates, you don't have to be a cabbie, a vendor or a M.O.R.O.N.
to issue forth such repulsive opinions. Journalists do it too.
Michael Tomasky almost does it outright in a disgraceful article in
the June 22 issue of New York magazine. He writes that Mayor
Giuliani's governing philosophy is "a manifestation not of fascism,
a word some Giuliani foes toss around too flippantly, but of

He quickly takes it back: "I confess it sounds silly and overblown,
and of course it is." But then he goes right on. "In Giuliani's city,
suspicion is regularly visited on powerless people. ... It may be too
much to give that mind-set a name that puts Giuliani on the same
level as history's mass murderers, but one thing we can call it is
anti-democratic ..."

Aside from being untrue - since when is taking on the city's
immensely powerful taxi industry an assault on the "powerless"? -
Tomasky's words are morally, politically and historically

Whenever a conservative politician advances an agenda that poses
a true threat to the policies beloved of liberals and leftists, it's not
too long before his enemies try to draw an analogy between that
politician and Adolf Hitler. In so doing, they are the ones truly
guilty of a totalitarian offense - the crime of denying an opponent
his humanity.

Copyright (c) 1998, N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without
express written permission of the New York Post is prohibited.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed
a prior
interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.

For information on this issue contact
Robert Lederman 718 369-2111 e mail

To see the Giuliani portraits for yourself check out
No-York City Museum #437 Madison Ave. (corner
49th St.) Ground level storefront 49th and

For info on the street artist and vendor issues go to:

Also see: "Chronic Offender", Village Voice 2/24/98;
Newsday 4/20/98 cover story "Under Giuliani City
Has Repeatedly Stifled Dissent"; N.Y. Times 5/7/98
pg B4 "For Giuliani, A Different Big Picture";
Editorial: 'the Big Chill' by Bob Herbert NY Times
5/31/98.; NY Times 6/2/98 "Vending Ban Widens: not
Just Food But also Books and Art".

For information on the Federal lawsuit [Lederman et al
v Giuliani] contact Andrew Miltenberg (212)
481-4242, attorney for the plaintiffs.


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