If you live outside of Washington, D.C., you might have missed the news of Marion Barry’s triumphant return to politics. The former four-term mayor of D.C. is now on the city council, representing Ward 8. For those unfamiliar with the geography of our nation’s capital city, Ward 8 is due east of Ward 9, with its fabled refugee camp of talking bugs, and directly south of Ward 12, where Katniss Everdeen comes from.
No, wait, those are “districts,” not “wards.” You can’t blame me for getting them confused, because talking about the career of Marion Barry requires you to suspend a lot of disbelief. F. Scott Fitzgerald said “there are no second acts in American lives,” but Marion Barry is on his sixth or seventh act now, and one of them ended with crack cocaine.
Barry, at age 76, just won his third Democratic primary in a row, virtually ensuring another term on the city council. He celebrated his victory by declaring, “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops. They ought to go. I’ll just say that right now, you know. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”
Everyone was “stunned by the offensive nature of the comments,” as the District’s non-voting congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, put it. Barry stood his ground, “going so far as to post photos of restaurants serving Asian food in his ward” and criticizing its high calorie content, as related by the Washington Examiner.
Later on, he clarified his remarks to say he was only on the warpath against those Asian restaurants that served high-calorie food, which also “don’t reach out to neighborhood groups, make financial contributions to the neighborhood, or help young people in the neighborhood improve their quality of life.” Low-calorie Asian restaurants, on the other hand, are OK in Marion Barry’s book.
This past Monday, Barry detected a new menace in Ward 8: Filipina nurses. Take it away, Washington Examiner!
At a hearing, Barry told the president and board members of the University of the District of Columbia that the school should be supplying D.C. residents to serve in the “lucrative” posts of nurses and teachers.
But that was not the case, Barry said.
“In fact, it’s so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” Barry said. “And no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses — and so that we don’t have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places — having to hire people from somewhere else.”
Barry did not respond to phone calls on Monday evening, and his voicemail inbox was full and not accepting messages.
I’ll just bet his voicemail inbox was full. I wonder if he’s gotten around to setting up caller-ID block against Eleanor Holmes Norton yet.
Out of curiosity, does the Democrat Party have some kind of procedure or ritual for expelling offensive members from its ranks? If so, why haven’t they used it against Marion Barry yet? Are they waiting for a spot to open in Max von Sydow’s schedule, so he can perform the exorcism? Or am I thinking of a movie again?
Update: Another fun fact about Marion Barry: he’s a delegate to the Democratic convention, where Barack Obama will be formally nominated for a second term in office. To the best of my knowledge, the Party has not stripped Barry of this honor, at the time of this writing.