Idi Amin Haunts Washington, DC
Last week, former DC mayor and present councilman Marion Barry apologized for comments he had made about Asian-American businessmen in the District. “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses—those dirty shops,” Barry said. “They ought to go. I’ll just say that right now, you know. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.” It was the latest embarrassment for a man who seems to know no shame.
In attempting to pit blacks against Asian-Americans, Barry hearkened back to General Idi Amin Dada, the former dictator of Uganda, who infamously ordered the expulsion of all south Asians from his country in 1972. “We are determined to make the ordinary Ugandan master of his own destiny, and above all to see that he enjoys the wealth of his country,” Amin declared. “Our deliberate policy is to transfer the economic control of Uganda into the hands of Ugandans, for the first time in our country’s history.” He referred to the Asians as “bloodsuckers.”
The expulsion of a people based entirely on their race or national origin is always a portent of bad things to come. Even evictions that appear to have some justification pave the way for further authoritarianism; the vindictive expulsion of some 3 million ethnic German civilians from Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of World War II psychologically prepared that country for the bloodless, Communist “coup” of 1948.