Don’t Hug that Tar Baby

It’s been widely reported (and not just on the Daily Show) that new Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow used the racist term “tar baby” in his first televised press briefing.

Responding to a question about the NSA’s secret wiretapping program, Snow answered:

I am not going to stand up here and presume to declassify any kind of program. That is a decision the President has to make. I can’t confirm or deny it. The President was not confirming or denying. Again, I would take you back to the USA Today story to give you a little context. Look at the poll that appeared the following day […] something like 65% of the public was not troubled by it. Having said that, I don’t want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program… the alleged program, the existence of which I can neither confirm or deny.

Just to illustrate what “tar baby” means to most people, below is a photograph of Tar Baby’s Pancakes, a restaurant in North Myrtle Beach whose logo taps into the vast reserves of racist imagery comprising our nation’s history.

I snapped this photograph in July 2005, when I was in Myrtle Beach with my family. We didn’t eat at Tar Baby’s, but when I saw the sign, I had to stop and pull over. The sign left me speechless (close-up of the sign at Flickr). Finally–and sadly–I’ve found some relevance to this photograph.

Tar Baby’s (Larger Image)
Posted to Flickr by samplereality.