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07/31/2006 07:44 PM ID: 56030 Permalink   

Romney's "Tar Baby" Sparks Racial Ire


Mitt Romney's reference to his troubled Big Dig investment as a "tar baby" has become something of a mess in and of itself for the MA governor. He apologized for the remark, made at a fundraiser with Iowa Republicans, pleading ignorance of the slur.

"The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," Romney said of the tunnel project he took over after a fatal ceiling collapse. White House spokesman Tony Snow was also criticized for use of the term last May.

Dating back to 19th c. Uncle Remus stories, in which Br'er Rabbit is trapped by a doll made of tar, the term has been used both to describe a sticky mess and as a racial epithet. Some say it "is a totally inappropriate phrase in the 21st century."

    WebReporter: MomentOfClarity Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
aaahhh man is it just me or does this have shades of "porch monkey"

That's really funny cuz Romney comes across both smart and well spoken. Bah I still think hes got a shot a the 08 republican Prez or VP nomination.
  by: Emp3r0r     07/31/2006 08:04 PM     
I was taught the tale when I was in grade school--- it always freaked me out, especially when Br'er Rabbit would punch the tar baby.

I've never heard of Tar Baby being used as an insult, but I can see how people could take it the wrong way. However, in the sense that he used it was completely metaphorical. I am reminded of a not so recent event-- a popular comic book writer had Batman fighting some guy-- (Spawn crossover, I think?) and he kept calling Spawn 'Boy'. The writer, Frank (Sin City) Miller, got some really sharp letters from angry african-american fans that stated that the word 'boy' is racist because that's what slave-owners called male slaves.

So.... well... there you have it.
  by: theironboard     07/31/2006 08:54 PM     
I don't see why people get so offended by something so innocently said. People should just go "you just said blah blah blah" and be happy with an "opps, sorry".

People are so petty. And its even worse as this saying is such an old one! I remember people saying that as a kid! Had no idea it could even be used offensively
  by: mako_majic   07/31/2006 09:31 PM     
who want to feel slighted/insulted will find a way to make it so.
  by: StarShadow     07/31/2006 09:46 PM     
  i've read in books  
that they would literally tar and feather slave babies
who were sick, or parents disrespected the masters
in some fashion.

So if I hear someone refer to something as a "tar
baby", i'm not going to go "eh hell....words are
words..." and start some rant on how people get
too sentisive nowadays and such. (which is where
this thread is headed already)

I guess if he said "i'll skin it up like a coon" people
would somehow defend it too...

It's good that he apologized, because i'm sure
historians would have gave him some examples on
how it was a bad epithet to use
  by: hotrock11     07/31/2006 10:11 PM     
  You are right, HotRock. Plus... mutter, mutter...  
There is probably some sort of historical reason for a metaphorical character from the fable to be made of tar, and there's probably several college course that would be worth attending on this very topic... or we can root around Wikipedia. Slaves in the South had lots of Biblical code within their culture, because their masters were dumb enough to think that their slaves were singing songs from the Bible or others such as 'Follow the Drinking Gourd'.

* The following is a Long Shallow Ramble about music history- this gets rather longwinded, however, and off-topic:

....mutter mutter... And later on most of the original Blues tunes were sexual metaphors like 'My Baby's Biscuits Are the Best'; then there were songs from Jazz such as Slim Gaillards vouty 'Cement Mixer Putty Putty' (which made its way onto the Muppet Show in a bit of improv by a guest-host), and now Hip-Hop has it's own slang, too. Hip-Hop has become an international phenomenom- is there a country on earth is without it's own Hip-Hop culture with roots going back to that history?

Milkshakes anyone?
  by: theironboard     07/31/2006 10:26 PM     
  i find it interesting  
that republicans can use a phrase like "tar baby" and play it off as a misunderstanding, but if an actor like mel gibson ALLEGEDLY says something anti-semitic the world is quick to call him a racist. i personally believe romney's comment was not intentionally racist, but the comparison between the two incidents rather concerned me. why do we care more about what an actor says than what a politicians says? while romneys comment may not be indicative of racism, it does show he's out of touch with black voters who would consider such a term derogatory. still, we give romney the benefit of the doubt, something we havent given gibson. do we really hold actors to a higher standard than the people running our country?
  by: manilaryce     08/01/2006 02:53 AM     
Didnt anyone catch that comment by the new white house spokesman when he was appointed where he said 'tar baby' in some sentence. Funny stuff.
  by: juggalotoka   08/01/2006 02:57 AM     
  My thoughts  
First, some background:

Frankly, I'm not terribly concerned about this one - I posted the story because I love the irony of the term tar baby becoming self-referential. At least in my opinion, this seems a pretty abstract term. The lampooning by Jon Stewart in the link above makes a great point - are we to avoid any term which has a negative connotation attached, REGARDLESS of context? I find this idea absurd when such words have completely unrelated and perfectly innocent meanings. How long before "black" or "white" become taboo because some people prefer to be called African or European Americans?

I agree with Starshadow, and I only hope that people who would make an issue to this are channelling some of that energy into actually bettering the groups for which they advocate when not dealing with trivial incidents such as this. As far as any comparison to Mel Gibson's remarks, I refer again to context. Intentional slur versus unintentional reference - I fail to see a comparison, especially given that Gibson's story is enlivened with allegations of police corruption.
  by: momentofclarity     08/01/2006 03:47 AM     
  Bam! Race Card  
Tar Baby in this context was obviously used to describe a bad situation... maybe it was inappropriate but he's hardly a Klan member as he's being made out to be.

Once again racism is kept alive by the people "alledgedly" fighting it.

  by: koultunami     08/01/2006 11:57 AM     
  Sick of the Poloitically Correct Brigade ...  
... small minded, ignorrant idiots that turn BLACK boards into CHALK boads and MOLEHILLS into MOUNTAINS.

Same idiots that tell people not to spank their kids and that capital punishment is wrong then whine like little girls that the youth of today has gone downhill.

You know why its racist? Because if you think it is your a simple minded fool with too much time on your hands that is so simple you cannot differentiate between a plain simple comment and actual racist attack.
  by: AccessG     08/01/2006 01:53 PM     
  to AccessG  
since when has a blackboard actually been BLACK? it was more of a factual issue than racial. and dont worry pretty soon there will be no more chalkboards or have you not been in a school in the past few years. WHITE out boards are the thing now.

and I find it funny you say todays kids have gone downhill. its your generation that are the parents, what the hell are you doing wrong is the right question? besides spanking kids only promotes violence. todays kids are becoming more political because the shit we are in now. and that seems like an uphill battle.

frankly I think anyone would agree, that only a "simple minded fool" would call mountains, molehills.
  by: eminem213486   08/01/2006 09:26 PM     
what the hell does capital punishment have to do with anything?
  by: manilaryce     08/01/2006 10:08 PM     
  Get real  
"Tar baby" is NOT a racial slur. Please be resonable. Why does every reference to a color become the focus of so much s***?
You people are all so sensitive. Grow a skin.
  by: ElZorro   08/03/2006 12:36 AM     
"Since ignorant rednecks started saying at a hundred years ago." - Clerks II
  by: Emp3r0r     08/03/2006 12:41 AM     
  Alan Keyes? Who?  
Psh, as if all that many black folk were just dying to vote republican anyway after this past round of "revival"...

"...He wasn't supposed to be trusted in the first place. *ding*" -Answer to: "Why didn't black people trust Regan?" in 'I know black people' on Dave Chappele
  by: emceay   09/18/2007 12:53 AM     
  Holy resurrected thread, batman!  
  by: erasedgod   09/18/2007 02:03 AM     
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