I live in Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District where we are currently “represented” by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R). On Friday, in an interview with KHOW radio in Denver, Mr. Lamborn said that compromising with President Barack Obama would be “like touching a tar baby.”
Granted, my Oxford dictionary states that tar baby is an informal noun meaning a difficult problem which is only aggravated by attempts to solve it. And of course, as kids, most of us heard the story of Brer Rabbit wherein a tar covered doll was used as a trap for Brer Rabbit.
Mr. Lamborn claims that he intended the dictionary meaning in his use of the term. He has also sent a letter of apology to President Obama. However, many are outraged that he would even consider using such a racially-charged phrase. Tar baby is an archaic term, one that almost no one would honestly equate with “a difficult problem.” To most people, tar baby is more commonly known as a derogatory term for a black person.
Either Mr. Lamborn is, at heart, a racist, or he is ignorant. Neither option is attractive in an elected official. If he is a racist, then I (and many others) do not want him representing our district. Conversely, if he is truly unaware that the term has any racial meaning, that’s almost as bad. Someone that out of touch should not be representing us either. Or, perhaps it is secret option #3 and Mr. Lamborn was “taking it back,” like Randal in Clerks 2…
Anyway, vague Kevin Smith movie references aside, I deliberated for much of the day about what I wanted to say to Mr. Lamborn. All of what appears above crossed my mind, but in the end, I decided to keep my letter to him more succinct. Below is what I sent him. I eagerly await some sort of response.
It saddens me that, in 2011, racism still runs so deep in our culture. It is especially disheartening to see it in our elected officials. I live in your district and find your “tar baby” comment to be absolutely deplorable. You were elected to represent the people of your district. I can assure you that you do not speak for me or for anyone I know.
Your attempts to step away from a phrase that, in modern language, is associated only with a derogatory term is even more disappointing.
I am pleased to hear that you’ve sent a letter of apology to President Obama. However, as I say, you have clearly shown that you do not represent me, my friends, or my family, and I therefore ask that you resign at once so that we may replace you with someone who better represents Colorado’s Fifth District.