City Desk

Did Marion Barry Compare Michelle Rhee to Saddam Hussein?

LL was doing some multitasking on Monday evening, listening to a D.C. Public Schools oversight hearing with one ear while finishing up some other work. Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, on the dais that night, started into one of his usual tirades about Chancellor Michelle Rhee, and LL's ears perked up when he started on a rant involving Iraq and Afghanistan.

That led to this tweet: "Marion Barry just compared Michelle Rhee to Saddam Hussein on the dais." But a fellow livetweeter, @classic74, challenged that characterization, saying that Barry "was talking about the culture."

Today, LL went back to the videotape to check what exactly Barry said. Indeed, Barry's remarks were indeed about the culture, not about Saddam. But, in a way, they were even more telling.

Barry could not have distilled his worldview any more potently. Where Rhee—for her well-documented faults—holds as a base principle that children can learn regardless of whether they're rich or poor, black or white, born east or west of the river, Barry is all about excuses.

His view of urban education is essentially deterministic—that because the kids in his ward are born to poor, illiterate parents, that lets everyone off the hook when they don't learn. Except for Rhee, because she doesn't understand their "culture."

To put a finer point on it, Barry says that the Korean-American Rhee—who, he says, comes from a culture that's "autocratic," "dictatorial," and "hierarchical"—can't possibly understand how to teach poor black kids. It's a mission, he says, as futile as bringing democracy to Iraq.

Here's what Barry said, verbatim:

I'm gonna raise a subject that I know is going to set off the Washington Post. We have a clash of cultures. We have a clash of cultures. Everybody that comes here talks about Michelle Rhee not including people, not being collaborative, not listening....

The reality is that this school system is 90, 92 percent African American, Latino American, and a small number of white students. Everyone knows that this country is a melting pot, but there are distinct cultures in this country. The African-American culture, because of our history and a lot of other reasons, has a distinct culture difference with non-white America. Latinos are the same thing. Does not mean that non-African-American, non-Latino cannot teach, cannot administer, but when the cultures are so great, Ms. Rhee comes from a culture...that's autocratic, a culture that's dictatorial, a culture of hierarchical in their discussions.

We see it every day in Iraq—the American government trying to change a culture that has been totalitarian, that has been nonexclusive, that has been a police state. And we're having a hard time now, after 10 or 12 years in Iraq, getting that culture shifted to democracy. We see it in Afghanistan, and so until we face that, we're still going to have those problems.

I read the chancellor's educational plan...It looks at though it was designed for Montgomery County, or Long Island, N.Y., or some other affluent county. It was not designed for Washington, D.C., for an urban area. Not designed for a city, a ward where 82 percent of the parents are single family in my ward, where 54 percent are in poverty....

You can't teach a child to read when you can't read yourself. You can't teach a child values of respect if you don't respect yourself. And there's a lot of that going on around....We have to recognize this culture clash. Be ready—the Washington Post is going to be going crazy....I'm raising reality on where we are.

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  • Adrian Bent-Me

    saveDAbay- Finally, something of substance to knock your dumbass over on.

    You seem to have a problem with me because I have a problem with idiots. So utilizing circular logic, you are an idiot.

    As far as your children being high performing student/athletes, keep pushing their asses cause the only way out of the hood is with a basketball scholarship right? Schools aren't that important and Marion Barry never fucked us over. We did it ourselves. Maybe you're right, but I didn't force the man to smoke crack nor advised him to run this City down into the gutter. If bashing him for that makes me an Uncle Tom (and you really really should read the fucking book before you criticize someone for it), then I have no problems bitch. It's ignat assholes like you that has kept DC as much of a shithole as it is. I'm don't mind the new wave of folks coming because they'll force idiots like you to do better or fucking leave.

  • noodlez

    @Adrian Bent-Me- "I'm don't mind the new wave of folks coming because they'll force idiots like you to do better or fucking leave."

    MY HOMOSEXUAL HOMEY, YOU JIVE CATCHIN UP WITH RICK "MANGY" MANGUS WITH YOUR TONE. ITS NOT A GOOD LOOK. BESIDES AND ONE HATEFUL, VENGEFUL AND VINDICTIVE COCKSUCKER ON THIS SITE IS ENOUGH.

    saveDAbay IS RIGHT. A BROTHER SHOULD NEVER REDUCE HIMSELF TO "TOM" STATUS AND EVEN IF ONE DOES YOU STILL DONT ADMIT IT TO THE WORLD. YOU ON THE VERGE OF GETTING YOUR NEGRO CARD REVOKED!

    YOUR BUSH/BARRY COMPARISON IN YOUR COMMENT #7 WAS JUST WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS. JUST VIEWING THEIR EDUCATION LEVEL ALONE YOU MUST RECOGNIZE THAT BARRY HAVE A MASTERS IN CHEMISTRY. WHILE DUBYA MAY HAVE AN MBA FROM HARVARD IM SURE HIS DADDY HAD A LOT TO DO WITH HIM OBTAINING IT. BUSH'S FATHER HAD A HAND IN EVERYTHING THIS MAN DID RIGHT UP TO HELPING HIM OBTAIN THE PRESIDENCY.

    WHAT IM TRYIN TO SAY IS BARRY MAY HAVE MADE SOME DUMB MOVES BUT HE IS NOT STUPID. EVERYBODY HAVE THEIR WEAKNESSES AND WOMEN JUST HAPPEN TO BE HIS. YOUR BOY BUSH ON THE OTHER HAND IS JUST A STRAIGHT UP ROCK HEAD AND ITS BEEN PROVEN!

    SO YOU MAY WANT TO TAP YOUR BRAKES ON THIS CHAMP BECAUSE YOU DRIVIN REAL WRECKLESS.

  • saveDAbay

    @ adrianwillhave2waitcuz right nowwhiteybends-me-over-n-over-again

    hey moron I'm not trying to best you here, but I am baiting your stupid ass though, because the more you type, the more you reveal in terms of your IGNORANCE!

    Play sports to get out of "da hood" huh, where'd you learn that bit of self hate, JELLEFF boys n' girls club back n' da day????

    Dude you are a fucked up individual, REAL TALK!

    My kids do well based on WHO AND WHAT THEY ARE, NOT WHAT OR WHO SOMEONE WANTS/BELIEVES THEM TO BE!

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    saveDAbay- like I've said before, trying to make sense to some as stupid as you will never work. You obviously lack the basic foundation to decipher through things and will continue consuming the shit idiots like Fenty and Barry feeds you. If this is what you're teaching your kids, they're destined to be as fucked up as you. You little bitch.

    Noodlez- Feud back on? And I was only now getting to not hate you as much. I mean that statement about embracing new folks in the City and having dumbasses like save, either try to do better or leave. All we've ever done in the District has been bitching and moaning about the "Man" fucking us over. Well, the Man is our own and has been our own for a long ass time. I'm being called an Uncle Tom because I refuse to embrace this mentality, so until these stupid fuckers, and sadly Noodlez, you might be included in this one, understand what it means to be an Uncle Tom, then I have no problem with it. Both Save and you are more of who Uncle Tom was than I ever will because you continue pandering to the plantation mentality. We are beyond that shit now. And I have no qualms about being verbally asbusive to anyone, white, black, yellow, who needs it. Stupidity needs to end now. I don't want to live in a City where retards like Save are scared of progress because it's coming from someone who isn't black. That's just simple-minded shit.

  • saveDAbay

    @ adrianwillhave2waitcuz right nowwhiteybends-me-over-n-over-again

    "like I've said before"

    BOY that's about the gyst of what and who you are, repeating the same SHIT over n' over on a different day!

    Your "wife" and kid must be proud!?

    WEAK ASS FLAKE!

  • saveDAbay

    Adrian Bent-Me

    "So, fuck it, I'm grateful her culture in superior to ours and that she's doing her best to make ours more like hers- you dumb fucking asshole"

    LASTLY, have you noticed anyone other than "black" addressing you "TOM" after this sad piece of detail was "disclosed" by your RETARDED ASS???

    YOU "TOM FOOLERY" are on display and the joke, the absurd; a nonsensical idealist who's derisory, laughable, ludicrous, preposterous, ridiculous and all the while having no intelligible THOUGHT OF YOUR OWN!

    YOU SHOULD "NEVER" BE ALLOWED TO PROCERATE!!

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    saveDAbay- you dumbass. Barry and others supporting Barry's racist remarks, such as yourself, stated that Rhee's culture is dominant to Black culture. That was the whole point of Barry arguing so hard against her. She's from a culture that forces their children to do better and for parents to take a more active role- things that does not happen with Black families in the District. He's upset by this and your stupid ass is too. So, I stand by my statements, you fucking retard. Go and reread your own damn words. Go and reread Barry's statement- you stupid fuck.

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