Dirty Asians Set Marion Barry Up!

Politics & Current Events

Marion Barry is on a lifelong quixotic quest to stand out, even in Washington D.C., as a living refutation of the viability of representative government. This week, after winning a council primary (which, it appears, he would have won even if he had strangled a kitten on camera), Marion continued to be Marion:

“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said on Tuesday night, according to video posted by WRC-TV/NBC4. “They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

Certain theoreticians and academicians, and the sort of people who take them seriously, inform us that only white people can be racist. (Occasionally people outside the academy use this trope when it suits their immediate political goal: see, e.g., "the shooting couldn't possibly have been motivated by race because the shooter is Latino.")

In the real world, the world occupied by people like Marion Barry, we know that certain theoreticians and academicians are full of shit.

[Edited to add the word "certain," without which the point is unclear and/or unfair.]

Last 5 posts by Ken White

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. nrasmuss13  •  Apr 5, 2012 @8:25 am

    Ugh. I lived in DC for five years – Marion Barry was and is a disgrace. It says suggests some unpleasant things about the general interests, intelligence, and viewpoint of his constituency — while I was there he regularly won by significant margins in spite of – or because of – his arrogance, his criminality, and his corruption. Sadly, I think many of us transplants concluded that this was as much of a "F— You" to the rest of the city as it was the sort of sad tribal politics that seem to develop in some places.

  2. TomPaine4  •  Apr 5, 2012 @9:55 am

    what are "dirty shops"?

  3. Joe  •  Apr 5, 2012 @10:49 am

    We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” . . . But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

    Uh right, because African-Americans running dirty shops is sooooo much better.

  4. Andrew Roth  •  Apr 5, 2012 @11:32 am

    True story from Oregon: A woman visiting from back east saw marionberry pie on a restaurant menu and asked the waitress, "You named a pie after HIM?!"

    It's too bad that marionberries aren't in season right now, because if they were there would be no limit on the number of bad puns that trendy Asian fusion restaurants could work into their menus.

    I can't decide whether Marion Barry–the man, not the fruit–is tragic, tragicomic, pathetic or just a malicious jackass.

  5. jb  •  Apr 5, 2012 @12:49 pm

    Yes, we all know he's crazy and incredibly offensive. But what the heck are "dirty shops"? At first I thought he meant porn shops, but the article mentions him saying this stuff in front of a restaurant.

  6. IGotBupkis, Three Time Winner of the Silver Sow Award  •  Apr 5, 2012 @2:03 pm

    >>> In the real world, the world occupied by people like Marion Barry, we know that theoreticians and academicians are full of shit.

    Yes, but, in Truth… didn't we already know this?

    Doesn't it flow as a direct result of their droolingly sycophantic support for postmodernism, to say nothing of their support for human-demeaning Collectivist governmental forms?

  7. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States  •  Apr 5, 2012 @2:05 pm

    >>> "You named a pie after HIM?!"

    Tell her she doesn't want to know about the gooseberry pie, then.

  8. Xenocles  •  Apr 5, 2012 @4:19 pm

    Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

  9. Tam  •  Apr 5, 2012 @5:12 pm

    "(Occasionally people outside the academy use this trope when it suits their immediate political goal: see, e.g., "the shooting couldn't possibly have been motivated by race because the shooter is Latino.")"

    Good to see that the meme has been internalized. Remember! Text 'Guilty' or 'Innocent' to #80004! (Messaging Charges May Apply.)

  10. Tam  •  Apr 5, 2012 @5:16 pm

    FWIW, Ken's disappointing response to this, as a lawyer and a skeptic, is the most disheartening proof of the factualness of Gell-Mann Amnesia I've seen in a while…

  11. Ken  •  Apr 5, 2012 @5:26 pm

    Tam, I respect your opinion, and I wish I followe what you are saying so I coul address it.

  12. Matthew Cline  •  Apr 5, 2012 @6:20 pm

    I'm guessing that by "dirty shop" he means a business which sells food while being in violation of one or more health codes.

  13. Gerard  •  Apr 5, 2012 @7:00 pm

    I love Popehat. In the few months I've been reading, well written arguments have led me to re-examine my opinions on various topics. That being said, the crack about theoreticians and academics seemed extreme, and I doubt that very many would actually say "only white people can be racist." I also think that people who spend their careers studying and thinking about a topic are likely to bring some useful insights to the conversation.

  14. TimS  •  Apr 5, 2012 @7:12 pm

    I'm not saying that no academic has been stupid enough to say that non-whites can't be racist, but I'd like some evidence that this is the consensus position among people who think about this sort of stuff for a living.

    Marion Barry is a sad figure, regardless.

  15. G Thompson  •  Apr 5, 2012 @9:46 pm

    Ive never heard of this person, and based just on what I have read here I cannot really make an informed decision.

    Though I would still like to file a formal complaint:

    Marion, this, Marion, that.. it's not good enough.

    Ken fix your editing you keep spelling Moron wrong!

  16. gclason  •  Apr 5, 2012 @10:21 pm

    "Theoreticians and academicians, and the sort of people who take them seriously, inform us that only white people can be racist."

    Any one who thinks that has never met a black person. My wife is black and thus all my in-laws. I am intimately connected to the black community. If someone thinks they can't be racist, that person is deluded. And haven't any academicdians ever studied the history of the orient? A more institutionally racist society than Japan is hard to imagine. I have no use for academic idiots who can't even be bothered to read a history book.

  17. Richard Hershberger  •  Apr 6, 2012 @6:16 am

    ""Theoreticians and academicians, and the sort of people who take them seriously, inform us that only white people can be racist.""

    "Any one who thinks that has never met a black person."

    Actually, anyone who thinks this has never met a theoretician or academician. The claim is a straw man argument of the crudest sort.

  18. Ken  •  Apr 6, 2012 @7:18 am

    These are perfectly fair criticisms, which I could have avoided by using the word "certain" before "theoreticians and academicians," which better captures what I meant. So I shall.

  19. Tam  •  Apr 6, 2012 @10:33 am

    Ken,

    Never mind, I've slept since then and can't remember where I was going with that myself. :o

    Pretend I followed up with something really witty that inspired you to write an awesome post instead.

  20. SeanD  •  Apr 6, 2012 @2:07 pm

    I think he's going to be dismayed the next time he orders Kung Pao Chicken…

  21. dfbaskwill  •  Apr 6, 2012 @3:02 pm

    hee hee hee The man just keeps giving and giving. Running unopposed too, so we are sure to get much more of his comedy gold.

  22. AlphaCentauri  •  Apr 7, 2012 @3:56 pm

    It's holding up the tradition of "taxation without representation." If he's your council rep, he's worse than no representative at all.

  23. Mercury  •  Apr 9, 2012 @7:41 am

    Actually I find Asians, especially those born in mainland China to be –generally- the most unabashedly racist (or at least strongly ethno-nationalist) people walking around the US of A these days. Maybe there’s a lot of selection bias at work here (I interact only with Asians who have made it over here) but after a while one gets tired of saying things like: "Sure we’re fat, lazy and let our kids do whatever they want but believe-you-me, we're pretty sharp!"

  24. Graham Shevlin  •  Apr 9, 2012 @11:52 am

    I remember in the 1970's that Idi Amin, after becoming President of Uganda, said the same thing about the Asian community in that country, and eventually forced most of them to quit and go to other countries. What the hell is Marion Barry doing acting like an African tribal leader? Does he not think that some, er, evolution of thinking is in order?

  25. sardonic_sob  •  Apr 10, 2012 @7:03 am

    What the hell is Marion Barry doing acting like an African tribal leader?

    I believe that the question may contain its own answer. If it barks, wags its tail, and has absolutely no sense of social decorum… it may not be a dog, but that's the smart bet.

  26. Ken  •  Apr 10, 2012 @8:02 am

    Good God, people. Really?

  27. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Apr 10, 2012 @10:04 am

    I lived in DC for 8 years, and in the area for longer. I feel sorry for Barry. Yes, he is almost the definition of a corrupt local politician, but I believe there may be extenuating circumstances. Whatever they may have promised at the time, Congress never had any intention of allowing the people actually living in DC to elect somebody with actual authority to run matters. So, when all over the country Black Activists were getting the opportunity to make the transition to Politician (and some were succeeding and some weren't), Barry got the post of Mayor and discovered that Congress still held most of the real power and all he COULD do was steer contracts to his friends. Maybe without that interference he would have been just as bad a Mayor, but we'll never know.

    Funny story; When he ran for Mayor at the beginning of his Great Comeback the Washington Post (which had always supported him previously) published a prominent op-ed in the tones of an outraged Victorian maiden auntie to the effect of "You cawn't POSSIBLY vote for THAT MAN!"

    I personally believe that op-ed along was responsible for his re-election.

  28. David C.  •  Apr 11, 2012 @7:42 am

    Barry just doesn't get it. Not at all.

    After his slur against Asians, he issues a so-called apology where he states that he only intended to slur some Asians. (The bold italics were in his press release. His release also had "some" underlined, but that's not one of allowed tags here.)

    See also http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/mike-debonis/post/asian-groups-want-a-more-meaningful-barry-apology/2012/04/09/gIQAOYkA6S_blog.html

  29. Dedicated_Dad  •  Apr 13, 2012 @5:10 pm

    Mercury NAILS it about Chinese.

    I once had a Chinese boss – fresh off the boat – who told me that the (fine, blonde, FTR) hair on my arms and chest were proof I and other "white people" are – and I quote – "one step much close to 'da monkey!" than he and all Chinese. You don't want to KNOW what he said about black-folks.

    Best of all, when we developed "issues" (mostly that I got damn tired of hearing "Diss what-a wrong wit' Amelican-a-pee-paw! 50+ hours a week…") and I later requested and received transfer, he went to HR to accuse ME of Being "rayciss" – "'Dis man not like me for onry one-a reason: 'dat-a I am a CHINESE-a PEE-PAW!"

    My response?

    "I have no problem with the fact that you're Chinese – I don't like you because you're an @$$hole!"

    I (obviously) skated… Later learned that I'd made "the committee's" whole week!!

    ;o)

  30. Andrew Roth  •  Apr 16, 2012 @4:13 pm

    After wandering into Rowland Heights, CA, over the weekend, and having spent quite a bit of time in Washington, DC, I can now assuredly say that Marion Barry does not know dirty Asian shops. Tokyo Girls, Dong-A Book Plaza Teacher's Supplies, and a restaurant offering an appetizer called "pork bung?" Now, those are dirty Asian shops!

    And they'd be just as dirty if Marion Berry stepped up to the plate and ran them. A 7-Eleven by any other name, or ethnicity, is still a 7-Eleven.

  31. Andrew Roth  •  Apr 16, 2012 @4:16 pm

    Oh fuck, Freudian slip!