As of the moment of this writing, the story topping the Denver Post‘s “Denver & the West” section is yet another Associated Press hit piece against Congressman Doug Lamborn for saying “tar baby.”
The AP repeats an outright lie and a distortion. The lie is that Lamborn called Barack Obama a tar baby. He did not. He used the term tar baby to refer to getting “stuck” in “the problem” of the debt-ceiling negotiations. The distortion is that the term is “racially denigrating” and therefore taboo. While some ignoramuses have abused the term, its origins is African folklore, and it refers to a sticky mannequin. For details, see my reviews:
The AP’s story appears in the very paper whose left-leaning writers have used the term “tar baby” on several occasions — without receiving any of the left’s manufactured outraged now directed against Lamborn.
And yet, to the leftist crusaders and their media enablers, the facts simply do not matter. This is about character assassination and partisan politics.
Thankfully, Sunday’s Denver Post editorial pages published my op-ed on the matter. It begins:
The critical points to understand about the tar baby flap are these: “Tar baby” comes from African folklore. Congressman Doug Lamborn used the term to refer to the debt-ceiling negotiations, not the president. And the nationwide smear campaign against Lamborn follows the left’s typical path of character assassination and guilt by association. …
My research on the topic has been cited by other media outlets as well.
On August 4, the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Wayne Laugesen mentioned my posts, and on August 3 Westword‘s Patricia Calhoun (who has herself used the term “tar baby” in an article) did as well. Unfortunately, neither of those writers pays sufficient attention to the fact that the tar baby story arises fundamentally from African folklore. Any racist use of the term manifests ignorance of that tradition.
On August 4 I also appeared on Peter Boyle’s radio show for an hour to discuss the matter.
Though this point is obvious, it may be worth repeating here: just because I defend the use of the term “tar baby” to refer to a sticky situation, that doesn’t mean anything goes. For example, if a politician called somebody “the N-word,” he would be justly castigated.
But lumping together “the N-word” with the tar baby of African folklore is ludicrous. And smearing a well-intentioned politician for referencing the tar baby is grotesquely unjust.