Good for the Boston Globe's David Abel. After Massachusetts' gorgeous Gov. Mitt Romney called the Big Dig a "tar baby," Abel balanced a report on the predictable outrage with quotes from Toni Morrison. The author of Tar Baby? She doesn't think Romney did anything wrong.
Reached at her home near Princeton University, where she teaches, Morrison called the expression "antiquated" and one that's "attractive to some people, when they begin to search for hints of racism."
She described it as a "forbidden word" that she sought to restore to its original meaning, one that illuminated an old African tale about the connection between a master and slave.
"How it became a racial epithet, I don't know," she said. "It was my attempt to rescue the phrase from its low meaning. I wanted to annihilate the connotation and return the meaning to its origins. Apparently, I haven't succeeded."
She added: "I suppose it should be avoided because it could be offensive to some people."
If there was a video, this would be accompanied by a surely dramatic and metaphor-laden eye roll.