OVER THE YEARS, Marion Barry has said and done so many questionable things that the city whose politics he long dominated has become inured to his behavior. But his racist remarks this week about Asian Americans — and his oblivious response — are too ugly to ignore. On Tuesday Ward 8 Democrats looked past his failings to nominate him to a third consecutive term on the D.C. Council, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the District and its political leaders should excuse his behavior.
Mr. Barry used the occasion of a victory party Tuesday to make this ignorant observation: “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.” The bigoted remarks were picked up by WRC-TV cameras and, fortunately, sparked a fair amount of outrage. Among those objecting, to their credit, were Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D). They made clear, as the mayor put it, that “there is no room in this wonderfully diverse city for comments that disparage anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, creed, disability or sexual orientation.”