Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hug the tar baby

NYT Tony Snow said he didn't want to "hug the tar baby," and then he did just that by using the expression in his first televised White House press briefing yesterday. The tar-covered doll that Br'er Fox used to ensnare Br'er Rabbit

Were either of them black?
in an 1881 Uncle Remus story is used as a metaphor for a sticky situation, but for some it also carries vague racist connotations
For some, anything carries racist connotations.
— it has been used as a derogatory term for a black. In a society where a District of Columbia councilman can be accused of racism simply by using the word "niggardly,"
Only to someone too stupid to know that niggardly means "stingy and miserly" and comes from the Old Norse verb nigla, meaning "to fuss about small matters", while "nigger" derives from niger, the Latin for "black".
most politicians and TV commentators prefer to avoid tar baby references. When a reporter playfully asked him to explain the term, Mr. Snow mumbled that it could be traced to "American lore."

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