Friday, June 16, 2006

Ol' Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit wuz talkin' to Tony Snow the other day about Sheila Jackson Lee ...

You learn all sorts of unexpected "facts" when you read the Houston paper.

This morning, for instance, you could learn that the origin of the term "tar baby" can be traced back to the old Uncle Remus yarns.

But etymologists warn that the term also has currency as a racial slur.

You would have learned this at the bottom of a story with a Washington, D.C., dateline that reported White House spokeman Tony Snow mispoke when he didn't give U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, proper credit when she had some face time with President Bush.

He gave credit to another female member of Congress who, like Jackson Lee, is African American, and who, unlike Jackson Lee, struck a Capitol police officer when he stopped her from enterting a restricted area (in yet another case of mistaken identity. Oy!)

Snow apologized, called himself an "idiot" and placed a telephone call to Congresswoman Jackson Lee that she described as "very interesting, or I should say, accommodating..."

Jackson Lee confided that "she and Snow agreed that `there is nothing wrong with saying sorry.' "

Got all that?

Now, what you didn't read in the story is this:

One day Brer Fox thought of how Brer Rabbit had been cutting up his capers and bouncing around until he'd come to believe that he was the boss of the whole gang. Brer Fox thought of a way to lay some bait for that uppity Brer Rabbit.

He went to work and got some tar and mixed it with some turpentine. He fixed up a contraption that he called a Tar-Baby. When he finished making her, he put a straw hat on her head and sat the little thing in the middle of the road. Brer Fox, he lay off in the bushes to see what would happen.

Well, he didn't have to wait long either, 'cause by and by Brer Rabbit came pacing down the road--lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity--just as sassy as a jaybird. Brer Fox, he lay low. Brer Rabbit came prancing along until he saw the Tar-Baby and then he sat back on his hind legs like he was astonished. The Tar-Baby just sat there, she did, and Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Good morning!" says Brer Rabbit, says he. "Nice weather we're having this morning," says he.

Tar-Baby didn't say a word, and Brer Fox, he lay low...

That wasn't in the paper, but one thing that was in the story is that a month ago Tony Snow used the word "tar baby" while "sidestepping" a question.

This led to "raised eyebrows," the story reported.

Got all that now?

Submitting facts to a candid world. That's the news business. Just ask ol' Brer Rabbit. Or Brer Fox. Or Fox News. Or Tony Snow. Or Tony Fox. Or the Houston Chronicle.

Where's Uncle Remus when you need him?

[wikipedia/tar baby]
[afro-american almanac]


JD Allen said...

Uncle Remus is in the archives adjacent to Amos and Andy. Some of the funniest TV ever made. And far less disparaging to the race than many of the newer comedians.

Banjo Jones said...

amos 'n andy i remember. most readers of this blog will have no idea who they are (or were) ...

i liked fred sanford.

saw him in vegas once, working a small room with a drink in his hand.

Slampo said...

Since when do etymologists "warn," Banjo? You think that's like when the National Weather Service issues a warning?

Oh well. As the Kingfish used to say, and as Tony Snow and Sheila Jackson Lee would surely agree, "We is all brothers in that great fah-ternity, the Mystic Kinights of the Sea!"

JD Allen said...

I disagree, Slampo. The A&A quote would undoubtedly be, "Kingfish, that rhinoceros is wearin' a brooch!" Referring, of course, to a photo of Madam Queen.