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Doug Lamborn

August 2, 2011 by USA Post 

Doug LambornDoug Lamborn, “Tar Baby” – from time to time, this ugly racially charged phrase has been raised in our political discourse. Very often, the term applies to a situation or thing. John McCain, for example, used to describe the divorces. Likewise, Mitt Romney, which is used to describe the Big Dig. In both cases, Republican leaders apologized for using a word so charged – although it was not used to describe a real person.

The same cannot be said Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who used the term to describe Obama in a radio interview on Friday at the state level. You can listen to the interview here, we have examined in my KKZN-AM760 radio program this morning. Here’s the key excerpt:

LAMBORN: Although some people say, “Well, Republicans should have done this, or should have done that,” will be held the president responsible. Now I do not even want to be associated with him is like playing one, a tar baby and you get … You know you’re stuck and you are part of the problem and can not get away.

Has been questioned whether the term “tar baby” is always a racist term. In 2006, Ta-Nehisi Coates explored this topic in Time magazine. “It’s a racist term tar baby?” He asked. “Like most of the elements of language, which depends on the context. Call the Big Dig a tar baby is very different from calling a single person.” In this case, the context is clear.

This, of course, does not absolve McCain and Romney, who claim ignorance of the racial implications of the term and then quickly apologized. But to say that in the case of Lamborn, the reason ignorance would be absurd because it explicitly uses the term to describe a black.

It is telling that this is openly contemptuous epithet is not just any old politician. Lamborn is a U.S. congressman from Colorado Springs – one of the most conservative Tea-Party-loving districts in the United States. At the core of the political right circle that runs on, describing a black man, as a “tar baby” is probably more than acceptable – it may even be celebrated, especially when addressing a political opponent as President Obama.

So while Lamborn ultimately apologize (not yet), and while he may insist he had no intention of using the term as did the comment reveals how different forms of racism are being incorporated by the right fringe. Looking away, pretending Lamborn was only using a harmless figure of speech, or insist that despite the relationship between McCain / Romney Lamborn somehow do not know what he was doing only contributes to the racist tendency.

UPDATE: After first calling his epithet of a “misunderstanding,” Congressman Lamborn has sent a letter to President Obama formally apologize for calling the president a “tar baby.” Here is the press release about Lamborn’s letter:

Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) today sent a personal letter to President Barack Obama apologizing for using a term that some find insensitive. Lamborn was trying to tell a radio audience last week that the president’s policies have created an economic quagmire for the nation and are responsible for the terrible economic conditions facing our country. Regrets that he chose the phrase “tar baby” instead of the word “quagmire.” The congressman is confident that the President will accept his apology sincere.

Unfortunately, instead of apologizing for using a racist term complete obviously Lamborn felt the need to pretend that only “some” find the words he used insensitive.

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