I’m almost ashamed to admit it but when we were kids we’d go to the local movie emporium and plop down a quarter–16 cents in sleazier South Bronx theatrical emporia–head for the candy counter, and buy some goodies which today would be considered racist.  

[Jim note - Yes, the candies   I’m almost ashamed not because of my impoverished background which I overcame, thank you very much, but because some of us urchins purchased, along with dry popcorn and a flat soda if we were really flush with nickels, and without the slightest reflection, “nigger babies,” bought and sold under that name at the counter.  

They were small, chocolatey, licorice candies the Urban Dictionary describes as “made from a humanoid-shaped mold that gave the treats their baby-like appearance” and goes on to misrepresent the treats.     

The Urban Dictionary explains, “Typically sold in bulk for a penny-a-piece, they were renamed ‘Chocolate Babies’ in the 1960s and were eventually sold in a box,” a misleading  description because they were being sold in boxes as early as the early fifties. 

“Nigger babies” weren’t a big favorite except among licorice aficionados and most fifties kids would never have laid out a precious penny for “nigger babies” in bulk or otherwise even in the sleaziest of movie houses and under the best of circumstances. 

In retrospect, they were very inappropriately-named confections even if we only bought them occasionally, the equivalent of vanilla “honky babies” which were never produced as far as I know. 

discovered that the N-word   In any event, the N-word has been banished from the English language–except in rap lyrics.  The white epithets “honky” and “cracker” are still in wide, contemporary usage, testimony to selective, racial sensitivities which even extend to the innocuous word “niggardly,” an adverb judged abhorrent since it sounds bad. 

All this candy reminiscence relates to new, hyperactive sensitivities involving two equally-benign terms in the news lately: “tar babies” and “boy.”  Their usage doesn’t quite carry the social stigma of “nigger babies” but they do cause some people to overreact and infer slurs and racial stereotypes where none exist.

“Tar babies” and “boy” may both some day enter the politically incorrect, verboten pantheon along with such literary classics as Huckleberry Finn and Uncle Remus after the PC police succeed in banning them, although banishing the word “boy” and every writing in which it appears would be a monumental challenge. 

It comes down to how influential black agitators become.  

   Joel Chandler Harris created the amiable character Uncle Remus in the late nineteenth century who, in turn, spun a number of didactic tales including that of the tar baby.  Br’er Fox builds and dresses an inert and sticky doll made of tar.  Br’er Rabbit gets enraged when it impolitely doesn’t respond to him and punches and becomes stuck to it. 

That’s basically it.  No racial overtones, no deep, dark implications, no insults intended or taken with the exception of gullible people and irascible rabbits. 

Lesson: Things only get worse if we foolishly struggle against them, apt advice even today. 

The Tar Baby   Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn made the foolish mistake of referring to Barack Obama’s policies as a “tar baby,” suggesting they were a set-up designed by the administration to be attacked, thereby entrapping the attacker. 

Not so, screamed Obama’s media. 

Lamborn’s remark was found to be “racially tinged” by such exemplars of politically correct propriety as the LA Times which viewed it as a racist reference to the president.  The only rationale for such a charge, the only explanation for that baseless conclusion is that the LA Times regards Obama himself and not his policies as a tar baby, making that newspaper rather than Lamborn a purveyor of racism.  

Nevertheless, Rep. Lamborn apologized, a useless effort since he will now and henceforth be, hopefully just figuratively, tarred as a racist by Obama’s MSM and the African-American community. 

Pat Buchanan, Right-Wing   Conservative writer, commentator, and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, too astute to become embroiled with hot button terms like tar babies and resultant abuse, committed a major racial faux pas if not a crime punishable by death in one narrow mind by uttering a different allegedly ”racially tinged” comment to new MSNBC host, black race instigator, Rev. Al Sharpton Tuesday night.

Using a common boxing analogy in discussing the recent debt ceiling fiasco, Buchanan referred to “your boy,” as in Obama being Sharpton’s favorite son, his chosen hero- pugilist, his man, if you will. 

Pat must have forgotten that the Reverend Al isn’t much into analogies or can’t comprehend them or understand anything not race-related. 

Al, feigning or showing either ignorance or a hearing problem, shot back, “My what?  My president, Barack Obama?  What did you say?”  Buchanan clarified that he meant Obama was “your boy in the ring,” a clarification that went for nought and soared over Sharpton’s head.  Al then proceeded to give Pat a civics lesson: “He’s nobody’s boy.  He’s your president, he’s my president, and that’s what you have to get through your head.” 

He may have thought to precede “head” with “thick,” but didn’t since he knew better and, to his credit, Buchanan didn’t follow Rep. Lamborn’s lead by abjectly apologizing for saying something that didn’t called for apology. (http://lat.ms/nJPnNF) 

Where is Uncle Remus when you need him to teach the truly important lesson that newspapers which fabricate racial slurs and that professional trouble makers are no better than boys who cry, Wolf, and no smarter than Br’er Rabbit?  And, by “boy” I simply allude to the Aesop fable, not to any particular race. 

Had Rep. Lamborn or Pat Buchanan used the term “nigger babies,” that would have been a whole other story.