Posted Monday, Aug. 23, 2010, at 2:44 PM
A friendly guide to Washington , which tells attendees of this weekend's Glenn Beck-hosted "Restoring Honor" rally how to stay safe and protest the homes of some prominent Democrats, has made the jump from a Maine Tea Party site to DCist and Politico . I know the author of the guide, real estate agent and libertarian activist Bruce Majors, who's -- maybe not surprisingly -- befuddled by the attention. All of the addresses came from public records, and he recommends against visitors using the yellow and green lines because "they let off at places that are not safe at night." (Side note: Both my home and the headquarters of FreedomWorks are best accessed by green/yellow line stops.)
I see a little commentary out there on whether Majors's guide winks at race. I don't see it -- yes, the northwest area he recommends to visitors includes some of the whiter parts of D.C., but I don't know any travel guide that would recommend traveling to Ward 8 (pretty dangerous) or H Street (in an awkward stage of gentrification). Without further ado:
DC's population includes refugees from every country, as the families of embassy staffs of third world countries tend to stay in DC whenever a revolution in their homeland means that anyone in their family would be in danger if they went back. Most taxi drivers and many waiters/waitresses (especially in local coffee shops like the Bread and Chocolate chain) are immigrants, frequently from east Africa or Arab countries. As a rule, African immigrants do not like for you to assume they are African Americans and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions. It's rare to meet anyone who gets really offended, but you can still be aware of the issue.
Many parts of DC are safe beyond the areas I will list here, but why chance it if you don't know where you are? If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don't know where you are, so you should not explore them.