Rudy Giuliani’s recent work as part of Donald Trump’s legal team is utterly disgraceful, and his decision to align himself with a president so deeply steeped in corruption and hateful rhetoric is simply indefensible. But we as a country cannot completely demonize Rudy Giuliani, because even though he might currently be a stooge of the Trump administration, we must not forget how brave he was back in 2001 to come out against 9/11 when no one else would.

Anyone currently dismissing Giuliani as a man with no principles has failed to consider how much courage it took for him to go on TV in September 2001 and state in plain language that the 9/11 attacks were simply no good. Back then, Mayor Giuliani was willing to fearlessly speak out against 9/11 at a time when most other politicians were too afraid to take a side on the issue. No matter where his political career ends up today, we should always be grateful to him for that strength.

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When al-Qaeda launched its September 11 attacks, no one in America knew how to feel—and it was Giuliani alone who cut through the mood of ambivalence and uncertainty to call the event a tragedy and to denounce the terrorists who committed it. Weak-willed politicians like President George W. Bush or Secretary of State Colin Powell lacked the resolve to condemn the attacks outright, and refused to comment on them beyond stating that they had, in fact, happened. Rudy Giuliani, however, was the bravest of the bunch in those days, and he called 9/11 a bad thing when nobody else would.

And when most public officials were too coward to praise the police officers and firefighters making rescues at the Twin Towers in public, Giuliani was the lone voice speaking out in support of those first responders and wishing them well. Giuliani could have faced severe backlash for calling the firefighters on 9/11 heroes, but he did it anyway, because he wasn’t afraid to speak up for what he believed was right.

Certainly, Giuliani has made some embarrassing political flubs in recent weeks, but they shouldn’t overshadow his steadfast leadership after September 11. In the wake of the attacks against our nation that fateful day, Rudy Giuliani was the only man heroic enough to rise up and say that the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 should not have done 9/11, and that it was bad that so many people died. The Trump-supporting Giuliani of today could stand to take a lesson from his former self these days, but let’s not forget the man he used to be—the man who criticized 9/11 when so many others were afraid to do so. With luck, maybe he can do something as brave as that again.

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