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Posted by on Aug 3, 2011 in Politics | 76 comments

The President, Congress and Race

When I heard Pat Buchanan call President Obama “boy”, I, unlike many people who support President Obama, chose to shrug the comment off. Yes, you can interpret it as a racially motivated comment, but I thought it was a comment motivated by disrespect. If we are honest, I’ve heard liberals call President Bush a lot worse.

But when I heard that a congressman used the words “tar baby” to describe Obama’s policies, I had to cringe. Now this was racially motivated, I don’t think many could argue otherwise.

The sad fact is that Congressman Lamborn is unlikely to face any real political consequences because of his comment. America is living through a time where politicians don’t respect the President of the United States and are politically rewarded when they shout him down in front of the country during State of the Union addresses.

Again, let me acknowledge that this disrespect was present during the Bush years, but there can be no doubt that it has been taken to another level under President Obama.

What pains me most is that President Obama cannot do anything about it. The most politically sensible thing for him to do is to let it go. He cannot speak out about situations such as this because of fear of being seen to use the race card, a card, in light of Congressman Lamborn’s remarks, he is entitled to use.

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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • DaGoat

    But when I heard that a congressman used the words “tar baby” to describe Obama’s policies, I had to cringe. Now this was racially motivated, I don’t think many could argue otherwise.
    Of course you can argue otherwise. The tar baby fable illustrates a concept that has nothing to do with race, and that is the point Lamborn was trying to make.

    The problem is the term has taken on a connotation where even if it’s used to illustrate the concept it still has racial overtones, so politicians are better off avoiding it. Dumb move on Lamborn’s part but not necessarily racist.

  • Allen

    Believe me, the President is way above this crap. It means nothing. There are dozens of millions of white, or, other than black Americans, whom are well pleased with President Obama. Well pleased.

  • roro80

    The original tar baby was an Uncle Remus story DaGoat. In what world could it possibly have “nothing to do with race”? It has as little to do with race as “catch a N**r by the toe”. Meaning that you have to be so up to your neck in racist culture that you can’t even recognize it when you see it in order for it not to ring out loud and clear with racist overtones. I know fish have a hard time understanding the concept of water, but sheesh…

  • DaGoat

    The story illustrates a concept that has nothing to do with race, roro. Using the N-word in a rhyme is considerably different.

  • roro80

    It’s an Uncle Remus story, DaGoat. As in “Folk-lore of the Old Plantation”. Do you actually know what the story is about? Just wondering, if a rabbit didn’t get a greeting from a white kid, do you think he would have punched the white kid? Try reading the story again, DaGoat, and for a second try to think about what the moral of this story might be, DaGoat.

  • Allen

    DaGoat-

    They used to tar and feather black people down in Alabama, calling them “N-word tar-Babies”.

    It’s racist.

  • roro80

    Even just as a metaphor for a problem that gets worse if you struggle against it, it’s racist. The problem you’re struggling against is not that oh sh*t i probably shouldn’t be hitting little black kids whose manners I want to correct even though it’s none of my business but he’s black so yes it is my business to correct his manners, it’s that oh no now my hand is stuck in this tar baby. The fact that it’s not actually a little black kid that you’re teaching a lesson by punching is the *bad* thing. The whole concept is racist. The moral of the story should be that maybe hitting little black kids makes you an *sshole, but it’s decidedly NOT the moral. There’s, like, nothing not racist about anything in the whole story. There’s a reason “tar baby” is not an expression any more, just like eeny-meeny-miney-moe now has a tiger in it instead of a n**r. Because it was racist.

  • DaGoat

    Tarring and feathering has nothing to do with the story of the tar baby.

    Roro you’re arguing that Brer Rabbit hit the tar baby because he was black? And yes hitting little children is a bad thing, and Brer Rabbit paid a price for it.

    I agree that it is not a term used in polite speech any more, where I disagree is that it is always racist. I doubt very much Lamborn was racially motivated in his using the term, although it was politically inept.

  • DLS

    It’s synonymous with “kid.”

    It also reminds me of the scummy lie that political opposition to Obama’s deeds and words isn’t political, but racist. It’s a lie.

  • roro80

    “you’re arguing that Brer Rabbit hit the tar baby because he was black?”

    Yes. You’re arguing otherwise? There is literally no other way to interpret the story. Plantation owner’s kid doesn’t get disciplined by random passers-by for being uppity or aloof or poorly-mannered. And Brer only paid a price for it because it wasn’t an actual black kid; if it had been, then disciplining him for having the audacity not to answer politely when greeted on the street would have been seen as appropriate. Instead, it’s seen as an unforseen problem — the rude uppity kid, not the hitting of said rude uppity kid. The idea of the story isn’t that you shouldn’t try to fix rude uppity kids, it’s that you should, but sometimes problems are bigger or more complicated once you start fixing them. I mean, honestly, white kids didn’t get hit on plantations for failing to say hi.

  • roro80

    It’s synonymous with “kid.”

    It also reminds me of the scummy lie that political opposition to Obama’s deeds and words isn’t political, but racist. It’s a lie.

    No, it’s not synonymous with “kid”; not, like in my interpretation — in nobody’s interpretation is “tar baby” synonymous with “kid”. Go read the story, DLS. It’s neither synonymous with “kid” nor anything like saying opposition to Obama is racist. It’s nothing like either. Go read the story.

  • roro80

    “I doubt very much Lamborn was racially motivated in his using the term, although it was politically inept.”

    If a 3 year old who doesn’t know any better says the n-word, is it racist? Also, is Lamborn three years old?

  • DaGoat

    roro that is a very convoluted interpretation of a very simple story. Go the Wikipedia and see how many versions of this story exist and in how many cultures. In all of them the meaning is “a problem that gets worse the more one struggles against it”. The tar baby isn’t a problem because he’s black, it’s because he’s sticky.

    I don’t understand your version so we’ll have to disagree on this one.

  • DLS

    I don’t have to read the story Buchanan invoked. In no way does that make Buchanan’s concurrent use of “boy” racist. He could have been, but nobody can honestly (or sanely) insist it’s incontrovertible that he was or is, when that’s obviously not true. (even if imagined)

    Fortunately there’s not 10+ (or with Palin, 20-30+ for each time she said something people here thought was “news”) threads displaying such ridiculous overreaction (combined with ugly fiction) currently.

    (Perhaps it’s only because so many kiddies are miffed at Obama and the Dems in Congress that approved the budget deal.)

  • DLS

    Pardon me — perhaps it’s only because so many BOYS and GIRLS (extra emphasis, heh) are miffed at Obama and the Dems in Congress that approved the budget deal.

  • roro80

    “that is a very convoluted interpretation of a very simple story.”

    It’s really not, DaGoat. It’s only a problem that the tar baby is sticky because hitting a black kid you don’t know for having poor manners was considered appropriate. It’s just the story, and the reason it’s considered extremely racist. Which is why it’s not, um, “polite” to use anymore. Because it’s racist, for all the reasons

  • DaGoat

    This reminds me of Trent Lott’s dumb comment at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party when everybody argued what he REALLY meant was that he wanted slavery to come back.

  • roro80

    Well, I’m sorry that it reminds you of that, but it’s nothing like that. This is a well-known story, with a well-known meaning. I didn’t just suddenly decide that the plantation culture and the lore surrounding it are/were racist. Uncle Remus references were considered obviously racist before I was born…

  • DaGoat

    Well what was the message you think Lamborn was trying to send here, roro? That it’s OK to hit/criticize Obama because he’s black? Or he was just calling him a racist name for some reason?

  • roro80

    Again, DaGoat, if a 3 year old says the n-word, is it racist? Is Lamborn 3 years old?

    My point is that it doesn’t matter if Lamborn just grew up in a time and place when using extremely racist stories was an inocuous way to make a point, or if he has meany-hatey-racism deep in his soul. He’s not a child, Uncle Remus stories are racist, and he has so little awareness of anything that he used a racist story about punching a fake black kid on a plantation to describe our first president. You don’t need to give him a pass for the same reason you don’t give a pass to an adult who uses the n-word. He’s a big boy, he should know better, and if he doesn’t, then that’s a different form of racism that might be called ignorance to the point of gross negligence. It’s so unimportant to him that he speak in ways that aren’t extremely racist that he doesn’t understand that what he’s saying is racist. Which form of racism means that he, an adult, who has lived in this world for a while, should get a pass for making an extremely racist comment?

  • EEllis

    You know when I was a kid I remember having an illustrated storybook of Brier Rabbit. I can recall being read that story and taking it strictly at face value not understanding any racial connotations at all. It’s kind of funny but I grew up in Arkansas and I had no idea that people were anything than people. It wouldn’t of occurred to me that skin color would of made any difference in the world to how you react to someone. It wasn’t until I started going to school and I didn’t understand some of the insults people used that I slowly (it took several years) started to get it. Some times you can grow up with blind spots, things you never questioned, and looking back it seems absurd that see more. That early stuff, like perhaps tar baby, can be filed in your head without some of the baggage we would place on it today.

    There is also the fact of what the congress man fully said. That was that being associated with Obamas policies is like touching a “tar baby.” If the word is automatically meant as “a black child” that statement makes absolutely no sense at all. If it’s meant as a “”sticky situation” that is only aggravated by additional contact. ” then it makes much more sense.

    That the words evoke a specter of racism is hard to argue. It’s also hard to argue that anything that reverences anything in the “old” south does also. Heck just the words “the Old South” seem to do so don’t they? To be a politician in this day and age you have to do better. I think you have to look at the whole person and I know nothing of this man so I can’t speak to his character but obviously a person can say something stupid, something that has racist connotations without being racist. You need to look at more than that. You easily can say that using the term was stupid because of the racist overtones and that he should of known better.

  • Allen

    Da Goat and Company-

    Let me clue you in on reality:

    If black people consider Tar Baby racist, it’s racist, and, there is not a damn thing you can do about it. That is the STATE of law today.

  • I think, DaGoat, that the message here is: don’t ever use the term “tar baby”. Under any circumstances, period.

    Doesn’t matter whether you think you understand the term to mean ‘sticky situation that will just get worse if you continue to mess with it’.

    And if you think that’s what it means, then you’re just in denial about the racist underpinnings… and probably your own deep seated racism as well.

    In fact, it’s probably inadvisable to even think the words ‘tar baby’ — even to yourself.

  • roro80

    **first black president…gosh, those other two comments were up just moments after I hit “post”…

  • roro80

    Hi Polimom — long time no see. You said what I meant much more succinctly.

  • Hi roro — unfortunately, i was being sarcastic.

    I think it’s bizarre that a term like this (and many many others, as eellis pointed out) cannot be used. Ever. Under any circumstances.

    Truth is, though, ‘tar baby’ does have a specific meaning, and has very wide application in a number of common life situations — situations that have absolutely nothing to do with racism.

  • roro80

    OMG, you’re kidding. Wow, never mind.

    So you probably still say the n-word in your head, too, and think that’s cool? Just a word, just a term — sticky history, but it just really means “black”, and I’m sure it was very common as EEllis grew up in Arkansas. Why shouldn’t you use it? Eh, go ahead. No racism at all.

    You go’on ahead and use tar baby — and the n-word too! You’ll absolutely offend every single black person in the room, and pretty much everyone else too, but hey, what do you care about those jerks anyway? Black people are so touchy about that whole “slavery” thing. So weird.

  • casualobserver

    I believe a moderate would consider the phrase to be racially insensitive because of possible connotation, but not racist because other connotations do in fact exist.

  • roro80

    “other connotations do in fact exist”

    Which ones?

  • casualobserver

    sorry, but i was addressing my comment to ” moderates”

  • EEllis

    Actually Roro you can use the term in the south among Black Southerners without racist connotations. The term is used in several ways including as a indication of skin tone like red-bone is. Among the older African American generation it can be a descriptive term without racial bias. Blacks in the South grew up with the same stories and believe it or not some read Brier Rabbit to their kids without concern or belief in inherent racism.

  • roro80

    “sorry, but i was addressing my comment to ” moderates”

    *

  • roro80,

    You do realize, that the Uncle Remus stories were a collection of African-American folktales? The stories were popularized by Joel Chandler Harris, who was white but openly admittedly that he had derived his stories from African-American slaves and merely adapted the tales for contemporary audiences.

    In the Uncle Remus stories, the “tar baby” was a doll made of tar that was used as a ruse to trap Br’er Rabbit. And while many different cultures have stories that are strikingly similar to this one (i.e. the Cherokee “Tar Wolf” story, the South American “Muneco de Brea” story), the Uncle Remus version of the story arose from West African folklore.

    Thus, in its original context, the term “tar baby” was used to refer to a “sticky situation” from which it is difficult to extracate oneself or a tricky situation that is only aggravated by additional contact.

    There is absolutely no question that the term has picked up pejorative and/or racial connotations in the 20th century, but I don’t see how the “Uncle Remis” tales can be called racist (in and of themselves) unless you’re willing to argue that the original authors of these tales (who were African-Americans) were somehow racist.

  • roro80

    “you can use the term in the south among Black Southerners without racist connotations.”

    Possible. That’s not where or how it was used in this case. It was used by a white Republican toward a half-black half-white man from Illinois.

  • roro80

    “You do realize, that the Uncle Remus stories were a collection of African-American folktales?”

    Um, yes, I realize the history. Thank god nobody will be offended now that you’ve sent me a wiki link. Go for it, go use it in a black neighborhood, Nick, it’s not racist anymore, ’cause all y’all said so. Have a blast.

    La-di-da-di-da!! No racism now or ever! Yay! Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about that anymore!

  • EEllis

    Possible. That’s not where or how it was used in this case. It was used by a white Republican toward a half-black half-white man from Illinois.

    Doesn’t matter what you believe anymore. You’re white so you don’t get a vote. But thank you for admiting you were wrong when you said there was no possible use that wasn’t racist.

  • roro80 said:

    Thank god nobody will be offended now that you’ve sent me a wiki link. Go for it, go use it in a black neighborhood, Nick, it’s not racist anymore, ’cause all y’all said so. Have a blast.

    The fact that some people might be offended by the use of a term is not–in and of itself–a reason not a use a term.

    For example, like many other, I have often referred to the Iraq War as a war of aggression. You had better believe that many war supporters were offended by the use of the term. Yet I have continued to use the term–not because I wished to offend people, but because I believe in calling things what they are.

    I personally would never use the term “tar baby” because I am aware of the pejorative/racist connotations that it has acquired. But I don’t think it is a good idea to argue that anyone else who uses the term must be a racist–particularly when you consider the that original use of the term had absolutely nothing to do with racism.

  • roro — how on earth did you manage the mental gymnastics necessary to link my stating that there are non-racist uses for the term ‘tar baby’ with the ‘n-‘ word?

    And I’d probably take offense at your very direct smear of me as a racist (“…hey, what do you care about those jerks anyway? Black people are so touchy about that whole “slavery” thing…”), except that 1) hysterical overreactions are pretty amusing across the internet, and 2) if you knew the first thing about my family, you’d feel like a moron.

    So hey — offense meant, but none taken, eh? No worries here. Drive on.

  • roro80

    Right — ok fine. Do whatcha want all. It’s very nice that you all care so much about not being called a racist that you’re willing to stick your neck out there and say racist things in order to prove it. Good work. Tar baby. Yay!

  • TheMagicalSkyFather

    One of the things that I have always found utterly lame and offensive about my American culture is our utter tone deafness to anything that does not offend, upset or scare us personally. I lump those that want to use terms like “tar baby” and “anchor baby” in with those that want JFK to be played by an Asian in a new musical. Those that pull the “I am color blind” bs are on both sides of the aisle and in my view need to lose all of their friends and confidants just so they can finally learn what the rest of us did in first grade. Do unto others and oh yea if you act like something is not there that everyone see’s you look stupid and should and will be mocked.

    That term has been viewed as rather openly racist for well over two decades in mainstream society. Many terms and stereotypes of a racist and misogynistic variety are now considered toxic that were once perfectly acceptable. Of course they were only acceptable since the groups that it harmed held no power. It was an era of majority bullying of many varieties.

    What I miss is the plain language. This guy is an idiot and every campaign he runs in until he retires should feature an ad running this statement on repeat until he is gone, such is justice when public servants say very dumb things. Buchanan also said a very dumb thing which is more complicated since he is old enough to actually have used the term “boy” to describe any man of color. I doubt he was trying to make a racial comment but maybe karma from his younger years just bit his tongue because whether he thought it was offensive back in the day or not in reality it was. It has always been unacceptable we just get to hear everyone cry about it now since it is no longer ignored. Why cant we just all say “not acceptable you idiot” and move on.

    I used to own Little Black Sambo as a kid and thought nothing of it. Then when in my twenties I found it in the garage and cringed so much while looking at it that it went into the trash where lawn jockies and many similar things belong. It is really easy folks, dont want to look like a racist or a bigot? Think long and hard about where many terms and cultural items come from because in a highly racially segregated and hate filled society (like I say segregated and that is not based on love)those terms and items are everywhere. If you use them or have them you can still fix it by merely acknowledging that “oh now I get that or where that comes from” and drop it like I did when I used the term Jerry Rig(sp?) around mixed company. I never understood the connection, once I did I apologized and never used it again and the problem was solved. It is the defensiveness and attempt to continue using such things that are problems. Not tripping over an ill defined fault line unknowingly, it happens.

    On a side note the Strom Thurmond reference was never tied to him supporting slavery. It was tied to him supporting Jim Crowe laws…because well he did and vocally so, oddly vocally so for a man with half black children.

  • zippee

    If it was uttered by anyone other than “The Champion for All Causes Threatening the White Race”, I might agree with you.

    But the Grand Caucasian Wizard gets no such slack from me.

  • DLS

    Even liberals on this far-left site haven’t (yet?) posted 10+ articles driven by stupid pee-cee and warped perception as well as reasoning.

    [sigh]

    It’s probably beyond those who are guilty to note Buchanan was smarter than Sharpton was, incidentally.

    (And why is MSNBC giving Sharpton a show? The hosts they’ve tried that have failed are failures in their own right, but their message is also a failure!)

  • zippee

    Sharpton is an opportunistic hack. Buchanon’s a Nazi.

  • JSpencer

    All semantics deconstruction and apologism aside, they were stupid comments from people who should have known better. Dumb and dumber. Btw EEllis, the first paragraph of your first post resonated with me. There was a time when we were all innocent eh? (sigh)

  • Allen

    gcotharn–

    With your attitude, you shouldn’t be worried about “tar Baby” surviving. You should worry about you surviving.

    PC is irrelevant. If black people don’t want “tar baby“, then it ain’t on your lips. Period.

    Now walk down town and run your mouth.

  • EEllis

    Thanks JS. My thinking is not that this guy should get a pass. He is a politician and you just have to do better than that. I just don’t like the over the top rhetoric and the statements that no one could ever use the term without being racist. Some people are just old and are not aware or in this case just stupid at best. Racism is almost as bad as being a child molester in this day and age and for such a serious and sever claim it gets used way too easy.

  • DLS

    People are making the stupid as well as dishonest accusation that any and all uses of “boy” when referring to a black man are racist, (“It’s a vast right-wing conspiracy, evil privileged oppressors” BS)

    while important things are neglected (as usual, here on TMV):

    Aren’t we now reaching a federal debt at and above 100% of GNP?

  • roro80

    Wow, g, you have some truly serious problems. Nobody’s trying to say the government is taking away your right to free speech. You’re allowed to say stupid racist things, call them immortal and delicious images, and nobody’s going to take you away or shut you up. People are, however, going to think of you as a racist ignoramus who thinks his delicious racist sayings are more important to him than being a person who gives a crap about offending lots of people. And they will be correct.

    I made no stereotype at all, so I’m not sure what you mean.

  • dduck

    Wow, this a supercharged subject and I won’t it with a 10-foot pole. My honky blood boils when people call me an idiot or jerk, but honky is Ok.
    However, if, and when, we get polygraphic proof that the guy meant this as an actual racist remark, and actually feels deep down that he is superior to Obama because he is white, I would tar and feather him. These guys, including Buchanan, need to be very careful, their words do carry more weight than ordinary folks.
    BTW: Buchanan can probably tell you about what the politicians used to call the Irish way back.

  • LOGAN PENZA

    I’m only a honky when someone cuts me off on the freeway, but I am sure there is a racist connotation in there if I try as hard as some people do to find one.

  • dduck

    Believe me, LP, I’m sure you have been called honky (a racial epitath):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honky you just didn’t hear it.

  • LOGAN PENZA

    Of course I have. I’ve also been called a racist by the same person who is spewing that accusation on to people here like an emotional toxic waste hose. But baseless accusations of racism towards white people who happen to hold political views that someone dislikes are ridiculous and deserve to be mocked.

  • LOGAN PENZA

    dduck, being called a racist is pretty much routine if you are a non-leftist who speaks a political opinion on an American college campus. 🙂

  • dduck

    If they are baseless, then who gives a flying F—-. Laugh it off, it is a reflection on their lack of intelligence or probably the recognition of gray between black and white (oh, shoot, I managed to slip into a possibly racist area).
    Honky, out.

  • LOGAN PENZA

    Exactly. Mock it.

    P.S. Your hateful racism against the gray alien race is an offense to Whitley Streiber.

  • dduck

    Not Mock, as the song goes. Ignore, and laugh at are better. (Of course, for aliens, mock works, and it keeps the sand hurling going for a longer time.)

  • roro80

    EEllis —

    I actually agree with what you’re saying (shocking, I know). Some people are just from a different time and don’t know the pernicious origins of what they’re saying. That’s not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about people (for example on this board) who know darn well what it means, who understand the racial (or otherwise) implications, who know that saying these things will be offensive, and yet argue over and over again that it couldn’t possibly be offensive. It’s more important to those people to have the “right” to say the offensive thing than to just be a good, kind person, and not offend. And they have that right! But that doesn’t mean it’s not offensive…

    This is really something I don’t understand. Everyone says offensive things sometimes unknowingly, without intent. Heck, even if we take out the “offensive” part, we all have expressions we pick up without really being conscious of it. When teenagers get a little older and realize how much they say “like”, and how dumb it makes them sound, it might take a little while to kick the habit, but anyone who gives a shake about sounding like an educated person does so, fairly quickly, and without much pain. This is not a difficult thing. Nobody has to use the term “tar baby” any more than they have to say “like” all the time — much less, in fact. After having this conversation on this board, I’d say everyone here knows that there are racial implications to the expression. They are most certainly not in the category of folks from a different time who just don’t know any better. Why wouldn’t they just make the decision to be kind to those they will offend, considering how easy it is to just say a different word or use a different image? At that point, how can one draw any conclusion other than that they are being purposely racially provocative?

  • EEllis

    Why wouldn’t they just make the decision to be kind to those they will offend, considering how easy it is to just say a different word or use a different image? At that point, how can one draw any conclusion other than that they are being purposely racially provocative?

    Because not every bodies mind works like that. I’m not giving this guy a pass and to be honest I don’t think anyone here is it’s just you had to go over the top with it, and this just occurred to me, that people may even feel they have to object or they might someday be painted with the same brush by something they said off the cuff. In this situation it is a bit murkier than you portray because the real issue isn’t with using the phrase “tar baby” at all. It’s using it in connection with a black man even if not directly. If you substitute Bush for Obama no one would care what he said. Look at Biden and how many times he has stuck his foot in his mouth. Reid and his “well groomed” remark seemed worse to me. I can go on and on so how is it you can’t see any other “conclusion”?

  • roro80

    “If you substitute Bush for Obama no one would care what he said.”

    I strongly disagree. The term was used by Mitt Romney and an Obama spokesperson (I’d have to look it up) referring not to people but to policies in the last few years, and both were roundly criticized. This situation has gotten more press both because of it being used to refer to a black man in particular and because it was used by a dude whose rhetoric and policies in the past have focused strongly on race and playing off of racial tensions.

    That others also have made similar remarks does not excuse this, and should not give him a pass. It certainly doesn’t mean it makes any sense that a bunch of people jump all over me for pointing out the history of the phrase. Like I had said, making a mistake is not the racist part — it’s the defensiveness, the idea that someone’s use of a particular phrase with a discriminatory history is so very important that everyone who is, indeed, offended by its use needs to just shut up, or has something wrong with them.

    It’s the same conversation that happens on TMV every time someone says something discriminatory. I mean, the same thing happened when Dr Laura said “n-word! n-word! n-word!” to a woman who called into her show. Literally there is nothing so offensive that the people on this board won’t stand up and profess, comment after comment, that it couldn’t possibly be racist. You, and seemingly most others here, think that I’m “over the top”, but I think it’s a valid point that just saying “yep, that phrase has an undenyably racist history, and this guy should know better” is such a scary, radical position that huge numbers of so-called moderates always (always!) swoop in to say it couldn’t possibly be offensive to anyone without something deeply wrong with them. That’s even after the one and only person of color who ever comes to these threads has already said that, yes, this phrase is used in a derogative manner to put down people with dark skin. I think that’s over the top.

  • casualobserver

    think that I’m “over the top”
     
    I know of no one here that even remotely thinks that (sarc tag)……and I would hasten to add that you should not denigrate yourself in such a manner, however, the derivation of that word has racist implications, so I won’t.
     
     

  • roro80

    sorry, but i was addressing my comments to people who aren’t *s

  • dduck

    Used to be “over the top” was a good thing. “You’re the tops, you’re Mahatma Ghandi”, Cole Porter wrote. Can You Top This, the show. Top Gun, etc. So, see how meanings change, it can drive you mad. Even the word politician didn’t have such the negative connotation that it now has.

  • EEllis

    Literally there is nothing so offensive that the people on this board won’t stand up and profess, comment after comment, that it couldn’t possibly be racist.

    Honestly it’s the way you perceive things. How in the heck can you say that people are saying it couldn’t be racist when everyone says he shouldn’t of used it? What people have spoken out against is as condemning the speaker automatically as a racist. Saying that the use in this situation was improper but not necessarily of greater significance.

  • roro80

    EEllis, since it seems it was not already clear, I hope that gcotharn’s statement illustrates clearly that your statement that nobody is defending his use of the term (I would have thought it already obvious) isn’t actually true. You are not defending it, but others here most certainly are.

    Gcotharn, you don’t get to decide what is and is not offensive to African Americans. You don’t get to decide that a white dude that just happen to support policy that dramatically heightens racial tensions is suddenly “reclaiming” a racist saying for the good of black people. It’s like a Men’s Rights Group trying to pretend they’re reclaiming the word cunt for the good of women. What you are suggesting is so much more offensive than the term tar baby ever was. It’s astonishing to me that someone could be so deeply misguided, and that’s being extremely generous.

  • roro80

    Gobsmacked. Those poor stupid ignorant black people, too fearful and stupid to realize how awesome their antebellum southern history is. I’m guessing you’re a big fan of Gone With the Wind too, as something black people should embrace, and would, if it weren’t for their despair and ignorance? I mean, wow.

  • roro80

    Yup, gobsmacked.

  • roro80

    Thank god the poor ignorant black folks have you to tell them what’s offensive to them. Because Africa. Great work, g.

  • roro80

    Wow, thank god they have you to tell them what’s the best thing in the world for them. You’re obviously the expert.

  • EEllis

    White people arguing over what black people should be offended by. You both are way over the line here. roro by your own standards your belief makes no difference and gc you cant control how others respond. There will be a negative response in using some words in some situations. Kind of like music. It’s not that a note is bad but when you play it in the wrong place……

  • EEllis

    I hope that gcotharn’s statement illustrates clearly that your statement that nobody is defending his use of the term (I would have thought it already obvious) isn’t actually true. You are not defending it, but others here most certainly are.

    Gc wasn’t at first and is stupidly doing so now because of your attempt to bully him. A prime example of the ineffectiveness, how counterproductive, of your tactics. Unless it’s more about you than the issue.

  • roro80

    “roro by your own standards your belief makes no difference”

    You’re assuming I have a “belief” on something? I don’t know what you think I “believe”, but I’m guessing you think I’m just making up outrage that’s not actually shared by actual black people. Let me assure you, I am not. People I know personally, work with, do anti-racism activism with, read on the internet. I haven’t told any black person what they “should” be offended by, I told gcotharn that assuming everyone that is offended is ignorant and fearful (you read the list) is really offensive. Not because he’s of course trying to call me ignorant and fearful (I’m not, but I could care less what he thinks of me personally, and it’s besides the point). Because the offense is race-based, it’s of course going to be felt more acutely by people of color, whom he is implying must all be ignorant if they dare say anything besides “hail the South! how I miss those days!”

    And for the record, if you actually read the comment thread, I wasn’t even talking to g when he decided that “tar baby” is a gorgeous immortal image, and that he wanted to resurrect it and reclaim it for the good of African and African American heritage. He did that all on his own. Once he reached that level of horse-manure, I certainly did get sarcastic with him. And sorry, he wasn’t the only one trying to defend it.

  • gcotharn

    For the record, I am not trying to dictate or control how anyone responds, feels, or formulates opinion. Rather, I am intellectually discriminating regarding the validity of being offended by use of tar baby.

    My research shows that, in 1946, even the NAACP was not offended by the use of tar baby. The NAACP was offended by the way “Song of the South” portrayed an “idyllic” relationship between slave and slave master.

    The portrayal of the colorful character of Uncle Remus was historically accurate. The accuracy is an argument against the portrayal being a racist portrayal. Remus was not an inaccurate caricature, but rather was an accurate characterization.

    At this point, I do not see a justifiable reason to be offended by use of tar baby. Tar baby has come to be associated with racism. The association with racism happened by osmosis, and due to ignorance, and due to activism which is driven more by laziness than by fact.

    If use of tar baby creates psychic pain, then that pain is a result of ignorance; is not a result of any legitimate grievance which can be associated with tar baby. At least, I have yet to read of a legitimate grievance which can be associated with tar baby. Maybe someone has one. The most significant, legitimate grievance I have seen, so far, is the example of lighter skinned black persons taunting darker skinned black persons with tar baby. At this time, I do not judge such taunting to be a legitimate reason to excise tar baby from our culture.

    Is there anyone here who can explain a historically accurate reason to shun tar baby? roro at least gave it a shot, but what she thought were facts … were actually fantasies which were dreamed up inside a critical studies department, and which have no relationship to the actual history of either tar baby or “Song of the South”.

    At some point, our culture must stop bowing down and genuflecting to fantasy. Are we meek children who live in fantasy? Or are we strong adults? We must identify truth, and we must stand for truth. The alternative, to identifying and standing for truth, is rapid disintegration of our culture and our society.

    If someone knows a historically accurate reason to shun tar baby, I would truly be interested in seeing that reason and that argument.

  • gcotharn

    BTW, to round out my argument:

    Anyone who wants to make a public issue of something which they find offensive, anyone who wants to affect public behavior, must intellectually justify their argument for why something is offensive.

    Black people are not some special category of offended Americans. All Americans are offended by plenty of things. Racial offense is not some special category of offense. The fact that some black persons might experience psychic pain over use of “tar baby” … means exactly nothing. If you think it means something, you are infantilizing another human being – and you are doing it based upon their skin color. YOU are practicing racism. Black people deserve the respect of being held to the same standards as every other American. The issue of racial offense deserves the respect of being held to the same standards of proof as every other arguably offensive thing in American culture. To do less is to infantalize black people, and to denigrate the seriousness of racial offense.

    If tar baby ought be shunned in decent society, then that case has to be made, and effectively made, in public discourse. The case has not been made in public discourse, and the case has not been made in this comment section.

    Again, if anyone here can make the case against tar baby, I am genuinely interested in following that reasoning. I am happy to change my opinion – I have already changed my opinion, one time, on this issue. But, I will not change my opinion based upon fantasy; in absence of compelling reasoning.

  • roro80

    “The fact that some black persons might experience psychic pain over use of “tar baby” … means exactly nothing. If you think it means something, you are infantilizing another human being – and you are doing it based upon their skin color.”

    Wait, so black people who find the expression offensive are infantilizing themselves, and there’s no chance that they’re offended because what is being said is actually offensive? The fact that you do not think that it’s offensive, and therefore everyone who does is ignorant and living in fantasy, is racist. Not allowing people to define their own reactions to things because you can’t imagine viewing things in some way different than you do due to their own experiences is bigotry, at it’s very most basic. It’s the same reason you think that denying gays the same rights as straight people isn’t homophobic. It doesn’t affect *your* life, so it must not actually exist or matter. Or, perhaps, you think that I’m just making up the fact that gay people do, in fact, want to be able to get married. Maybe I’m just infantilizing them by thinking that they “need” the same rights as us heteros?

    And we’re really going to decide whether people are allowed to be offended or not based on what people thought when Jim Crow was law of the land? Sh*t changes, g.

    That’s all I’ll say more on the subject, because it’s really clear that you’re just going to continue to get more and more racist as the conversation progresses. Of course that’s kind of how it always goes with you; I really don’t know why it’s surprising to me anymore.

  • dduck

    Fin………………………………….., finally!

  • TheMagicalSkyFather

    Sorry all I stepped away from the thread.

    GC-Jerry Rig as in Jerry Curl. It was a semiPC version of N___ rig. I utterly missed it as well, some cultural items are really subtle.

    DLS-Sharpton got a show because he helped Comcast get a deal so they paid him off.

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