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The "Tar Baby" Tar Baby

John McCain has become the latest politician to be criticized for using the phrase "tar baby":

Later at a press conference, CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley asked McCain about his use of the phrase "tar baby," viewed by some as having racist overtones.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, here's a short explanation. I was familiar with its literary origins but was surprised to learn that some people consider it racist.

No, make that outranged. (Shocking! Outrageous!) When people think a phrase is totally innocent, and have to be told that some consider it racist, they obviously couldn't have meant to offend people by using it.

Amusingly, the Wikipedia entry for "tar baby" says "Specific reasons why the term developed negative racial aspects are difficult to identify." I have an idea. It isn't a racist term. I'd wager that the alleged racist connection was kicked up by people with a vested interest in racial tension.

More amusingly, since "tar baby" originates in African folklore, I humbly suggest that those who criticize people who use the term should instead praise them for their cultural awareness. After all, wouldn't that be the multicultural thing to do?


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