The Random House Dictionary Usage Panel be damned. There’s nothing wrong with saying “tar baby.”
It is indeed a “wonderful” story, as the title claims, and a fairly obvious allegory of the disastrous effect of slavery on the white South. Whatever your stance on Joel Chandler Harris’s methods as a folklorist, the magnificent tradition of African-American storytelling he helped to preseve is among the greatest treasures of our nation, and of our language.
Dialect humor is always funnier and less offensive live than on paper, and the modern convention that requires that it be delivered by a member of the approprite cultural community has merit. Transcribing dialect can seem condescending. On the otherhand, the juxtaposition of demotic speech with great wisdom has its own subversive quality. There’s a direct line from Harris’s Uncle Remus to Richard Pryor’s Mudbone.
That said, a BushCo spokesman can’t say “tar baby” and expect the rest of us not to think about the War on Terror.