Outcry over Barry's 'Deplorable' Comments Is Fast and Furious

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Outcry over Barry's 'Deplorable' Comments Is Fast and Furious


Byline: Tom Howell Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two days after he celebrated a resounding victory at the polls, D.C. Council member Marion Barry found himself fending off a backlash battery for comments he made that derided certain Asian-owned businesses in his Ward 8.

Mr. Barry, who won more than 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary, made the remarks while celebrating his victory.

We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops, Mr. Barry said, according to a WRC-TV (Channel 4) report. 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.

The news station caught the remarks on camera, prompting condemnation of Mr. Barry - a former four-term mayor - for singling out an ethnic group after burnishing his reputation in the 1960s as a civil rights leader.

The outcry manifested itself as a Twitter war at times, with the Asian-American Justice Center tweeting it condemns Marion Barry's xenophobic rhetoric towards D.C.'s Asian-American business owners.

The furor reached a fevered pitch by Thursday afternoon, prompting Mayor Vincent C. Gray to condemn the remarks in an official statement.

I am deeply disappointed by council member Barry's comment, Mr. Gray said. There is no room in this wonderfully diverse city for comments that disparage anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability orsexual orientation. Our energies are better spent focused on building everyone up rather than tearing anyone down.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting member in Congress, said she was stunned by the offensive nature of the comments and called Mr. Barry immediately. During the call, she reminded him of their values and lengthy relationship, which included fighting for racial justice in the South.

Some of Mr. Barry's council colleagues were also quick to refute the comments by the mayor for life.

I strongly disagree with the recent remarks made about Asian-American business owners in the District, council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said. Statements like that are divisive, destructive, and have absolutely no place in our city.

Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, took Mr. …

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