Michele Bachmann Using ‘Tar Baby’ Metaphor = Racism? Please…

Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: VOC Essays | No Comments »
Print Friendly

When will liberals ever give up on portraying Michele Bachmann as a racist?

First they said that Michele Bachmann was a racist for signing a pledge which stated, accurately, that the black family was more intact under slavery than under liberal welfare policies. Now they’re arguing that the congresswoman’s reference to Obama holding up a “tar baby” is coded racism.

If anyone actually listens to the clip, she wasn’t even referring to Obama as a “tar baby.” She said he was holding up a tar baby (the speculators) as something to blame for his failure on energy independence. The term “tar baby” is used as a metaphor for a sticky situation that gets worse the more you get entangled with it. Michele Bachmann was essentially saying that Obama uses the speculators as the sticky situation that can be blamed for all of our energy problems.

I wouldn’t have used the metaphor — mainly because my own literary preference is to use metaphors that are much more vivid. The purpose of metaphorical language is to make a point “pop.” The term “tar baby,” in my view, just isn’t metaphorically potent.

Michele Bachmann is not the first white Republican to be accused of racism for using the “tar baby” metaphor. Dr. John McWhorter, one of my favorite black writers on the issue of race, wrote in The New Republic defending John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Doug Lamborn from the charge of racism for using the term.

It’s not surprising that liberals are in such a rush to accuse Michele Bachmann of racism, because they like to think that all unapologetic conservatives are racist (if white) and self-hating (if minority). After the Trayvon Martin case, I can no longer defend the entire movement of the charge of racism like I vigorously used to. Certainly, there are conservative racists, but there is no evidence that Michele Bachmann is one of them.

People forget that Michele Bachmann, during her presidential campaign, was one of the only candidates who tried to articulate racial public policy arguments in an attempt to get black and Hispanic votes—she even came under attack from people leaving comments of conservative websites. (I wrote about this in my article Michele Bachmann, the GOP, and the Race Conversation.) Michele Bachmann was my candidate the minute she announced she was running, but her excellent attempts to appeal to black and Hispanic voters—during a Republican primary!—really impressed me.

Please note that I am not one of these black conservatives who will smile like a Cheshire cat and enthusiastically applaud whenever any conservative person says something racially insensitive or openly racist. Some black conservatives are so desperate for the adoration of white conservatives (and their financial support) that they’ll cosign and endorse rhetoric openly hostile to their race. These people are more concerned about the lucrative prospects of being rare black faces reciting talking points that are commonly associated with white people than they are about working to make American conservatism an ethnically and racially diverse movement.

(Oops! Did I just use the word “diverse”? I’m sure I’ll be called a faux-conservative because “diverse” is a “liberal” word!)

The “racist conservative” image is something the Democrats will always attempt to portray. However, with the Trayvon Martin case, I do find it sad that conservatives actually gave the left credible opportunities to accuse the right of racism. I hope conservatives can now see why engaging in the racism that has been prevalent on the right throughout this Trayvon Martin case is so damaging. It makes it difficult for some to discern between false accusations of racism leveled against conservatives and real accusations of racism leveled against conservatives. All conservatives, sadly, get tarred with the same brush.

In this case, however, the charge of racism against Michele Bachmann is demonstrably unfounded.