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frank ruff virginia
In the latest addition of “umm, that’s racist,” meet Sen. Frank Ruff of Virginia, a GOP state senator who invoked the racial slur “tar baby” to condemn the Affordable Care Act. Ruff made the comments during an appearance at a breakfast meeting of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. At the time, Ruff was arguing against extending the state component of the Affordable Care Act with federal funds. All states have that option under the health care law. 

SEE ALSO: 4-Year-Old Health Care Law Is Still A “Big F—–g Deal”

On the use of “tar baby,” the Virginia Pilot notes:

Ruff reputedly compared reliance on promised funds to provide health insurance for thousands of low-income Virginians to a “tar baby.” He said doing so would leave the state unable to later detach itself from the program if its terms become unfavorable for Virginia, several people at the meeting claimed.

And not long after, he gave the typical “I wasn’t being racist by using this racist term” retort:

In a brief telephone interview Wednesday morning, state Sen. Frank Ruff said he “meant nothing racial…at all” by using the term “tar baby” during a health care policy discussion this week.

Ruff, a Mecklenburg County Republican, told the Virginian-Pilot that he perceives the phrase to mean “a sticky situation” and nothing more.

But the senator said he is aware his use of the metaphor caused offense — Ruff said he called Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders, who is African American and was present for the remark Tuesday, and left a message of apology.

Ruff is a 64-year-old man from Virginia. I have a hard time believing he doesn’t know a little bit of the history behind the term “tar baby.” And even if he didn’t — which again, I highly doubt — why would you use that to describe a “sticky situation” instead of, oh, I don’t know, the term “sticky situation” itself. Better yet, how about all of these Republicans stop using hyperbole when discussing the Affordable Health Care Act altogether?

Frank Ruff, you can fall through the biggest trap door of life and fall face first right in to a tar pit. You and all of your other racist cohorts in the GOP.

Here are other examples of Republicans pretending not to know what their use of “tar baby” really means (via The Huffington Post:

Back in 2006, then-White House Press Secretary Tony Snow deflected a question about the government collecting phone records, saying he didn’t “want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program.” During the same year, then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) apologized for using the term to describe a troubled Boston highway tunnel project.

Ruff knew what he was doing when he said it, only these days it’s a lot harder for your ilk to get away with just throwing out racially charged language without even a nominal level of repercussions. As a southern boy, I prefer my racism delivered straight, no chaser.

So don’t invoke “tar baby” in an argument against policy pushed by a Black man and then cower when called on it. Own your bigotry. It’s the least you could do. Speaking of bigots who owned their hatred, Fred Phelps died. In honor of his life, everyone go have gay sex in his memory. And if you want to include the Frank Ruffs of the world in your celebration, do it with a Black person.

Until the next racist, y’all.

Michael Arceneaux blogs at, tweets at @youngsinick, and praises Beyoncé’s name everywhere he goes.

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