On not over-praising the dead (The Reality-based Community)

MARK KLEIMAN | November 23, 2014

Marion Barry

Look, de mortuis and all that; if you don’t want to speak ill of the dead, then you’re justified in not mentioning Marion Barry at all. Or if you want to praise his verbal wit  – “Jesse? Jesse don’t wanna be no Mayor. Jesse don’t want to run nothin’ but his mouth.” – you’ll be on solid ground.

But please, please don’t try to pretend that as a politician and public official he was anything but a disaster to anyone but himself and his cronies. Stealing from mostly Black taxpayers to make some of your friends rich is not giving “working-class black residents a taste of the economic prosperity that racial apartheid had long denied them,” and a summer-jobs program doesn’t really alter that fact.

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