I’m Seeking a Better Metaphor for Troopergate than “Tar Baby”

The term “tar baby” has been too loaded with racist connotions to make me entirely comfortable to use it. And Toni Morrison’s reclaiming of the term has changed its meaning. But this concept from African folklore aptly describes the crux of Troopergate: It’s an inextricable situation that only further entangles the aggressor the more he or she struggles with it. Disengagement is the only logical course of action.

There is a bias in western culture that heroic actions can and must lead to victory and disengagement is a sign of failure. Say, for example, Iraq where the discourse easily deteriorates into whether or not you are a “coward” or you are a “”hero”. So we don’t have many parables about the wise person knowing when to step away, although now I have a Kenny Rogers/Willie Nelson song running through my head.

“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Any other suggestions for a parable?


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