The Washington Post

Marion Barry’s offensive apology

Please, stop. (Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON POST)

He couldn’t even apologize for his racist comments about Asian shop owners (“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops.”) and Filipino nurses (“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.... 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”) without digging another hole.

He told a community meeting that: “The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell.... We want Ward 8 to be the model of diversity.”

The Post reported:

“Asked later about his reference to “Polacks,” Barry at first denied using the word, then retracted it. “I meant Poles.”


Please, Former Mayor-For-Life, don’t apologize for that remark. I am terrified what you might say next. Probably the next Barry apology will go something like, “I’m so sorry I offended the Poles. They are a great people, unlike those durn (fill in the blank).

Now he says he’ll host more discussions. I hope not. If that was a discussion, I would hate to see what a Sit Around And Make Offensive Remarks About Everyone would look like.

I think this was a“Saturday Night Live” sketch at some point. Someone who apologizes for saying offensive things by saying more offensive things. It’s just embarrassing, like most of Barry’s recent and not-so-recent career.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates noted on Twitter: “It’s like Barry said, “Once I got filmed smoking crack, wasn’t much point in thinking about ‘legacy.’ ”

You can say that again.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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