I think I may just have uncovered some good news on the Scott Adams/Dilbert/racist/cancel-culture front, aside from the fact that nearly every newspaper in the world that carried the “Dilbert” cartoon has now dropped it, including The Denver Post.
I could be wrong — since I’m not all that familiar with some of the nethermost zones of right-wing nuttery — but I have the idea that whatever white-victimhood backlash there is to dumping Adams after his racist rant on YouTube will very soon disappear. Even Adams himself is now trying to cast his remarks as simply “hyperbole” and went with the oft-used excuse that his words were somehow taken out of context.
But even in America in 2023, I’m guessing that most people find it hard — or, at least, impolitic — to defend someone who says that Black people are a “hate group,” and that his “best advice to white people is to get the hell away from Black people.”
It is just possible, I’m hoping, that it’s not just newspaper publishers and Democrats who see the issue here.
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I mean, Donald Trump may enjoy dinner with the occasional white supremacist and find “very fine people” on both sides of the Charlottesville hate rally, but even so, I haven’t seen him defending Scott Adams. I Google and got nothing. If you’ve seen anything, please let me know because I even tried Donald Trump Jr. And once again, nada.
Naturally I Googled Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to see if he was defending Adams. DeSantis, after all, is basing his expected presidential run on visiting every possible battlefield in the culture wars (see: DeSantis, AP African-American studies). I looked and I looked again, to be sure. Got nothing.
I didn’t try Ye. I’m not that desperate.
But I do go to Twitter — my favorite online site on which to find people posting either sadly ignorant or intentionally provocative stuff — to see who was defending cartoonist Adams, whose once iconic comic strip has apparently steadily drifted Trumpward. And I found — who else? — Elon Musk, who, in replying to a tweet on Adams and Dilbert, said it was the media that was “racist,” particularly against whites and Asians.
Musk was a sure thing. In his time since purchasing Twitter, Musk has managed to make the staggering transition from richest visionary on the planet to richest right-wing crank on the planet. I’m sure he’s gained millions of followers on his Twitter feed, but it comes at the cost of scaring away a goodly number of advertisers, who pay the freight. And just guessing here, but I’m thinking that a lot of the same people who buy Teslas are those who believe Musk is driving his thriving business into an electrified ditch.
I did go to Lauren Boebert’s Twitter feed to check. She’s big on the cancel culture, and there have been fewer examples of such widespread canceling than of Dilbert. It’s nearly impossible to see it anymore in the funny papers.
I got nothing.
I tried Marjorie Taylor Greene. Nothing.
I know there is other stuff happening on right-wing Twitter. There’s the border war. The border is a constant. There’s the possibility that COVID was caused by a lab leak. The Supreme Court seems ready to undo Joe Biden’s attempt to forgive some part of student loans. There’s East Palestine and Pete Buttigieg. There’s the why-are-we-giving-so-much-money-to-Ukraine-to-fight-our-ally-Vladimir-Putin issue. There’s the-media-picking-on-George-Santos issue. There’s spy balloons. Don’t forget the debt ceiling. Boebert, Greene and friends will be all over the debt ceiling from now until forever.
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But maybe — this is just a guess, not a conclusion — Scott Adams was just a little too obvious on the hate scale, although, if you just go to Twitter generally, you’ll still find lots of Adams supporters.
The funny/sad thing about the whole controversy is that it’s all bogus. And no one was probably more aware of that than Adams himself.
If you tuned out early, you may not have heard the whole story of the Rasmussen poll at the heart of Adams’ YouTube rant.
Rasmussen is, of course, a much-discounted polling site that has openly turned into a vehicle for right-wingish propaganda, which is pretty much what the poll in question was engaging in.
In the poll, 1,000 people — 117 of them Black — were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement “It’s okay to be white.”
Fifty-three percent of Blacks polled agreed with the statement. Twenty-six percent said they didn’t and 21% said they weren’t sure. From these numbers, Adams said that “If nearly half of all Blacks are not okay with white people,” that means they are a “hate group.” He added, “And I don’t want to have anything to do with them.”
Of course, the math here is fuzzy. Only 26% of Blacks — not nearly half — said they disagreed with the statement. And if you look into the phrase itself, you’ll find that it began on the right-wing 4chan site, apparently as part of a stunt, and that Tucker Carlson would naturally defend the trollers. So, yes, if you’re deep into right-wing trolling or a member of the Black community, you might well have heard of the expression. And, in some cases, you might even have been suspicious of it.
The phrase has been used not just in a Rasmussen poll, after all. But to deface synagogues. To be posted as provocation on college campuses. One student at Oklahoma City University School of Law was even expelled for using it.
And we can go even deeper into the polling-math world. Yes, 21% of Blacks weren’t sure how to respond to the phrase. The Washington Post reports that 20% of Democrats, 19% of women, and, this may be of interest, 25% who are neither Black nor white also said they weren’t sure.
In truth, this is just a similar take to the use of the phrase “all lives matter” to try to discount the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
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The Post article also notes that other polls tell a different story. A 2020 American National Election Studies poll asked a “feeling thermometer” question on how, on a scale from 1 to 100, the races feel about each other. And 62% of Blacks said they felt warmly about whites, and 66% of whites said they felt warmly about Blacks.
It’s not that we don’t have serious problems with racism in America. We do. Of course, we do. It’s not that we don’t have politicians and others trying to exploit the issue of white grievance. We do. Of course, we do.
But if there’s any good to come from the Adams story — and who doesn’t like a happy ending? — I’m ready to hope that it’s still possible for a racist rant to be considered a rant too far.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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