Crying 'Onkel Tom'
The German lefty paper Taz is stirring a P.C. fuss overseas with a satirical headline calling the White House "Onkel Baracks Hütte" — "Uncle Barack's Cabin."
Never mind that lots of people and papers around the world are thrilled that Obama is the Democratic presidential candidate. And never mind that Harriet Beecher Stowe's 19th century novel was anti-slavery. The moniker "Uncle Tom" has been widely applied to subservient, pliant black folk who knuckle under to the white establishment. It could be argued that it's apt when applied not to Obama but to people like Condoleezza Rice, but it is impolite.
The fact is that Die Tageszeitung (the paper's formal name) wasn't slamming Obama but was being satirical, and that's obvious to a lot of Germans. Stowe's novel isn't known only in America — I'd bet that more German schoolkids than American schoolkids are familiar with it — there's a Berlin subway stop that's long been named Onkel Toms Hütte. But the moniker as applied to Obama in a story that clearly wasn't calling him an Uncle Tom has pissed off the German establishment and disheartened some of the paper's P.C. supporters. As Der Spiegel's David Gordon Smith reports:
Yeah, so what? Taz's deputy editor-in-chief, Reiner Metzger, had this response:
When's the last time you heard an editor of a major U.S. daily say that?
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