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Aug-02-2011 15:10printcommentsVideo

GOP Rep Compares President Obama to a 'Tar Baby'

The racism being faced by the president isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.

GOP Representative Dough Lamborn of Colorado
GOP Representative Dough Lamborn of Colorado

(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) - GOP Representative Dough Lamborn from Colorado decided to stir the racial fire in the recent debate over the debt crisis.  In his remarks about President Obama, Rep. Lamborn said that being associated with President Obama is “like touching a tar baby.”

Lamborn’s remarks (which are in the audio below) came as he was trying to argue that President Obama will take much of the blame for what went wrong during the debt ceiling discussion.  Critics on both sides of the aisle have expressed their disappointment in the actions of both President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.

It’s hard to know why Rep. Lamborn felt the need to invoke a racial slur in his disagreement with the president.  One would hope that any fool would realize that comparing a black man to a tar baby isn’t the most politically-correct thing to do.  At the same time, Lamborn is being allowed to engage in the blanket disrespect that many on the right have shown toward President Obama, as their minds can’t quite wrap around the idea of taking orders from a Black man.

Not only do these lynch mob attacks from the right serve to undermine the stability of our Democracy, they also steal the ability of the rest of America to engage in the free expression of ideas.  When Americans have legitimate concerns about the actions (or lack thereof) of the Obama Administration on critical issues such as racial inequality, their voices are muted by those who say that any critic of the administration is serving to protect the interests of right wing racists.

In many ways, the treatment of the Obama Administration is similar to what happened to a few Black boys I knew growing up.  Knowing that they would have to deal with racism from the world, their mothers would coddle them and defend their behavior, no matter what they’d done.  Their refusal to hold their sons accountable was always justified by the fact that the world was “just so darn mean to him.” Instead, my mother always made sure I understood the struggle with racism that I would face in my life, and at the same time pushed me to a higher standard.  I would say that this is why many of my friends went to prison and I did not.

The same argument can hold for those of us who’d like to see President Obama succeed.  The racism being faced by the president isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, and he is well aware of that.  Similarly, the racism being felt by an entire community facing 16 percent unemployment and the largest wealth gap in over 30 years must also be acknowledged.  It’s not easy for any of us, but we must all pull our weight in confronting the crippling effects of racial inequality. 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 




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Sir Davis Agean Duke III August 6, 2011 12:40 pm (Pacific time)

Editor: Shove it racist scumbag.


Kevin August 5, 2011 5:59 pm (Pacific time)

Tim the below info may be of some benefit for your updating: " In 1860 only a small minority of whites owned slaves. According to the U.S. census report for that last year before the Civil War, there were nearly 27 million whites in the country. Some eight million of them lived in the slaveholding states...The census also determined that there were fewer than 385,000 individuals who owned slaves (1). Even if all slaveholders had been white, that would amount to only 1.4 percent of whites in the country (or 4.8 percent of southern whites owning one or more slaves)...According to federal census reports, on June 1, 1860 there were nearly 4.5 million Negroes in the United States, with fewer than four million of them living in the southern slaveholding states.The fact is large numbers of free Negroes owned black slaves; in fact, in numbers disproportionate to their representation in society at large. Of the blacks residing in the South, 261,988 were not slaves. Of this number, 10,689 lived in New Orleans. The country's leading African American historian, Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, records that in New Orleans over 3,000 free Negroes owned slaves, or 28 percent of the free Negroes in that city. To return to the census figures quoted above, this 28 percent is certainly impressive when compared to less than 1.4 percent of all American whites and less than 4.8 percent of southern whites. The statistics show that, when free, blacks disproportionately became slave masters..." http://americancivilwar.com/authors/black_slaveowners.htm

Tim King: Kevin, that is still a lot of people in my book, I'm glad it is behind us, now we have to get places like Israel online, where Civil Rights are a joke.  You can always make a point here without overgeneralizing and it will be cool.  History is history, there are good and bad people of all races, I being white, find people of other races a little more interesting than my own, which I am plenty familiar with.  The more I understand the world, the more I want to interact with people from those places, it is all very interesting.    


Mark August 5, 2011 8:58 am (Pacific time)

Editor you are at odds with how the majority of people feel about race issues. I also have many friends of different racial and religious backgrounds, and whatever history that comes with any particular group does not give them a "pass go" for racist behavior.

 Editor: It doesn't give you one either.

No matter how you attempt to argue your point Mr. Editor, the day to day interaction of the races is what reality is, and the crimes against white people on that day to day level is what forms feelings/opinions.

Editor: I don't care about the race, only  the crime, the rest is a side note.

If one takes a look at world history it becomes pretty evident that white people were slaves and oppressed for literally thousands of years.

 Editor: Are you serious?  You believe white  people were slaves for thousands of years?  What white people? The Jews (some) were forced into slavery for a while, but they aren't 'white' as you describe, in that event you are talking about semitic people.  They were dark complected.   

That slavery and oppression is still going on in various parts of the world. It has been the policies developed by Western Civilization that began the long process of closing slavery down. No one alive today, nor for several generations was a slave nor a slave owner, and very few Americans were ever slave owners.

 Editor: Very few Americans were slave owners?  That is bullshit. 

As far as segregation, Jim Crow or any of the other racial related policies, that was part of the process. Do the different races get along better now? I guess it all boils down to where you live and your personal experiences with different races.

 Editor: That I will give you, racial tensions vary from place to place.  I grew up in a really crappy part of LA and it was no fun being white and being singled out.  I can tell you that while growing up, I responded to 'white boy' far more quickly than my own name.  That was living an an exclusively Hispanic culture.   The biggest trick is making inroads through friendships.   

Bottom line, it is true that crimes against whites by blacks and hispanics is disproportionately beyond reasonable, if any racial crime could be reasonable. Until that behavior changes, things will not get better. Those blacks who opine for personal responsibility are dumped on, and those blacks who continue to stir up the hate are looked up to. How this will all end is most likely not going to be peaceful.

Editor: Sadly, I have to conclude that this is a hopeless case, you actually think in racial terms and seem unable to get past that.  


COLLI August 5, 2011 2:25 am (Pacific time)

Racism should not be tolerated by anyone, from anyone. At what point will we recognize the fact that we are all brothers and sisters. Hatred one for another based on skin color, sexual preference, age, country of national origin, or religion is not just stupid, it is the single greatest thing standing between where we are now and brotherhood. Hatred of black by white or white by black has gone on for too many years already. Whether a person is good or bad has nothing to do with skin color, religion, sexual preference, age, or country of national origin. Hatred for what a person does can be understood but hatred for who a person is cannot!


August 3, 2011 10:18 pm (Pacific time)

It's always about race isn't it. We have an accidental President, he is not black. His mother is white, his father is black. But like always, threw the race card. It always works. Not for me, I'm not drinking that cool aid. Blacks are more racist then whites and they are the trouble in bringing out the race card. Where is the article that Biden called the tea party terrorists? Not a word about that one. This Country is in trouble because of drug up idiots called Salem News

Editor: I have pity for you, thanks for dropping by.


Anonymous August 4, 2011 6:38 pm (Pacific time)

So what are the definitions of "Honkie"..."Cracker"..."Gringo"..."Goy"...and so many more that denigigrate white people (and non-Jews, etc.)? These words are used all the time, and even Obama's beer buddy from Harvard was talking about the "Honkie Cop" that dealt with his disturbing the peace. Regardless of what some of you may think about Watkins and so many other public persona's like him, they use offending descriptions of white people all the time. Since I'm not the type that turns the other cheek there have been a number of people over the years who have learned about my impatience with all forms of racist behavior, but there is far more racist hate directed at whites in the last 50 years, and the criminal database alludes to that quite clearly.

Editor: No racism is right, but one side was oppressed by the other just more than a century and a half ago, that wasn't very long ago.  If anyone thinks Black people don't have a right to be resentful for the plight of their ancestors they're dreaming.  It doesn't mean anything crazy, certainly no Black people get any so-called 'reparations' while we hand out $4 million a day to Israel when the U.S. was the savior of the Holocaust, yet owned the slaves.  You follow me?  Anyway, I have some really close Black friends and I just think it is important that we keep everyone on good behavior, but since my race is the one that has done 99% of the damage leading to our current dilemma I feel like I should be here keeping it in check.  Hope that makes sense.


Anonymous August 4, 2011 7:59 am (Pacific time)

If I were the Rep Dough Lamborn of Colorado, I would sue the writer of this article for mis-using his words and attributing racism to it. The usage was proper vis a vis the NON-racist meaning. To attribute anything else is a figment of a racist-seeking writer. We can use fewer people who strive to see what they want to see, to cover their own anti-establishment or anti-white sentiments. Can the Editor identify himself? Is this Tim?

Editor: In saying that you show me you are unstable and erratic. Of course this is Tim, Stephen, and today you think I should be sued?  OK.  You are not gaining points, I am the only person here who goes by 'Editor', of course.


Anonymous August 3, 2011 10:39 pm (Pacific time)

The term tar-baby in this context has nothing to do with skin color and is not racist. It is a well-known expression. The writer is making it out to be what he wants to because he thinks it is wise to stir the pot. It is even more concerning that the article about the comment made it on Salem-News. Your editorial standards are deteriorating.

Editor: Well most of  the world isn't considering the story of B'rer Rabbit when hearing a term like that applied to the first Black U.S. President.  

From Wikipedia under 'tar baby'

The expression tar baby is also used occasionally as a derogatory term for black people (in the U.S. it refers to African-Americans; in New Zealand it refers to Maori), or among blacks as a term for a particularly dark-skinned person. As a result, some people suggest avoiding the use of the term in any context Wikipedia page on 'tar baby'.  And you should know that we will always have our radar on for things like this, I was taught as a young man that offensive terminology never gets us anywhere, that was a dig and there are plenty of words this man could have chosen.  


X August 3, 2011 7:06 am (Pacific time)

Just google "Boyce Watkins is a racist"...this clown is right there with all the other anti-American, anti-caucasian racists. Just do a brief research. Though King supports haters like this because he's a clueless ...

Editor: Why do we attract idiots like yourself  x?  Do you really think your racism is going to look good here?  Dr. Watkins is a highly respected many, obviously you wouldn't understand even conceptually.  This man is no 'hater'.  


Anonymous August 2, 2011 6:21 pm (Pacific time)

I hate reading articles like this too but Tim is right, articles like this must be published. Why Rep Lamborn saw the need to use a racial slur is confusing. I have plenty of bones to pick regarding how President Obama has and has not done his job but his skin color has nothing to do with it. I feel sure you know that and agree with that. As much as reading articles such as this makes me angry and even sick, they need to be written. The author of this article is clearly not calling someone a racist because they disagreed with President Obama or simply called him an idiot or corrupt; she is calling an obvious racist a racist for using a racial slur. Condoning and/or ignoring this type of idiocy only elicit more of the same. Yes, if we go back to Brer Rabbit we do understand that the term tar baby carries a different purpose . . . it is sticky and Rep Lamborn tried to slant his remarks to lead people to believe that is what he meant but he obviously chose Tar Baby meaning to insult the President from a racial perspective. People who call other people racists without just cause are as bad or worse than racists but clearly, that is not the case here.


Anonymous August 2, 2011 4:26 pm (Pacific time)

I dont like articles such as this..It gets people fighting amongst each other. I dont like the article when biden called the tea party people terrorists, and I dont like this article either.. Not sure what more to say.

Editor: Here's a clue, you aren't supposed to "like it" - I don't know what you are really trying to say, I would be disgusted by anyone who "likes" this story but if you are implying that we should have passed on it, then we are definitely living on different planets.  

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