Friday, October 06, 2006

Over the years, I have been surprised at how Uncle Remus has become the subject of such racial controversy. Liberal African Americans and whites both contend that the Disney character Uncle Remus and his stories of wisdom in the movie "Song of the South" are racist.

Interesting. An wise old man telling stories of wisdom is racist. Yet, stories handed down by oral tradition in the African American community are not. Take for example stories told in the Gullah dialect along the South Carolina coast. The South Carolina state museum has an exhibit that honors such, as it should, by the way.

My roots are Irish to the core. I have heard oral traditions about some of my family members when they went into to Columbia looking for work to see signs that read, "no Irish need apply." My cultural heritage is most well known for some little guy in green looking for a pot of gold. There are Irish folk tales that have been told since the beginning of writing. I am not offended by them being told by a man with a thick Irish accent in movies and other venues.

That is why the furor over Uncle Remus confuses me. Perhaps someone is offended by the way he talked, or the way he was portrayed. But, how could the wisdom of his stories be offensive. The tales of Brer Rabbit are about overcoming adversity, finding a way out of bad situations, and being smarter than those who think they are smarter than you. "Please don't throw me in the briar patch" comes to mind.

Now, I know that slavery is something we in the United States all regret. But, that regret should not prevent us from celebrating the stories and cultural icons that came from it. They have value. Are we to someday put the characters of Alex Haley's Roots on the shelf? Will Chicken George be as political incorrect one day to read about and talk about as Uncle Remus?

The Irish were subject to harsh British rule for hundreds of years. Yet, the telling of stories about the characters of that oppressed time are not offensive to the PC left.

Indeed, literature should be open to all to read and criticize in a free society. Deciding what can not be openly read, discussed or cited for political reasons is a page out of the Communist Manifesto, not the American constitution.

All that said, the remarks made by some liberal blogger and democratic activists about Governor Sanford are out of line. The Governor said he felt like some budget issues were like "dancing with a tarbaby." The word tarbaby made me think of doll made of tar, not a black person. Anyone who thought of a black person first has some issues to deal with.

What really gripes, me, though, is that those who are upset over the word "tarbaby" would likely be the first to laugh at someone being described as "drinking like an Irishman" or having an "Irish temper." There is a double standard and a political ax to grind.

It's okay, though, I suppose. For, God made whiskey and beer so we Irish would not rule the world.

That's called laughing at one's self. You liberals ought to try it. It is as healthy as not smoking.


  1. Mighty derned curious that self annointed gadfly Andy Brack rushed copy on the incident to The Chronicle in Charleston, to match the timing of the story's reaching the daily press.

    Now I find even more curious the balance that a (Chronicle) staff writer's piece that fills the column inches below the Tarbaby story noting how the politically correct Senator has dissed the black vote by skipping the NAACP's state convention. Charleston NAACP President Dorothy Moore offered, "Black voters should understand that when it comes to who they (white candidates) can offend, they will choose to offend us rather than their white constituents."

    Time will tell, but the tune on the fat lady's music stand looks like a donkey's dirge...

  2. I completely agree with you. I grew up with my mother reading stories in dialect of the tar baby and the briar patch. My image of Uncle Remus has always been as a wise elder telling these stories to a young child on his knee.

    I have never viewed Uncle Remus as a racist image. I only learned as an adult that Joel Chandler Harris had racist views. It's probably hard to find any white person from that time that didn't have views that are perceived as racist by today's standard. Just because we don't agree with Harris' racial views today, doesn't mean his stories can't be enjoyed.

    I use the analogy of throwing me in the briar patch all the time. I could just as easily have used the image of a tar baby as the Governor did. We've all gotten stuck to tar babies in our lives. It's a great image, and even without reading the story, we know what it means.

    Here's the tar baby story. It's a delightful story with a great moral lesson.

  3. There's another ironic aspect, Margret Sanger, Planned Parenthood's secular patron saint sought abortion to control "undesirables" in the population, which, from her writings included coloreds and inferior genetic strains that are disposed to be criminals or mentally incompetent. Hitler had nothing on her for ethnic cleansing, yet she meets the politically correct's approval as they hide the ugly side of her motivations, since she supported abortion.

  4. Interesting point, West Rhino. Isn't it something how the liberals overlook their own racists and the like?

    And, Swamp Fox, I like you, was told the Uncle Remus stories as a boy. I remember my family going to the theater to see Song of the South.

    Oh, how times have changed, I suppose. You can abort folks to weed em out, but you can't tell stories.