It all started with a poll. After looking at a Rasmussen survey supposedly revealing that almost half of the black American population does not think it is okay for white people to be white, Dilbert creator and political commentator Scott Adams went on a rant that set social media ablaze and likely set a world record for the number of pearls clutched in one day.
Those familiar with Adams’ work speculated that he was deliberately poking the bear, eliciting outrage to prompt a larger conversation. In subsequent broadcasts and an appearance on social media influencer Hotep Jesus’ YouTube channel, the cartoonist clarified his remarks that set the record straight but likely did not quell most of the handwringing outrage coming from folks on both the left and right. If his conversation with Hotep Jesus is “Act Three,” as Adams indicated, where will this film take us next?
Scott Adams Drops the Bomb
On Wednesday’s airing of his podcast, “Coffee With Scott Adams,” the commentator highlighted a poll published by Rasmussen which asked respondents if they agreed with the following statement: “It’s okay to be white.” The survey found that 47% of black respondents either disagreed with the statement, or said they were not sure if they agreed with it, while 53% concurred with the sentiment.
Adams seemingly took the result of the poll to mean that 47% of black Americans did not have a favorable view of white people and intimated that he would be changing his approach to racial matters. “I always thought, well, if you help the black community, that’s the biggest lever. You can find the biggest benefit,” he said.
But then, Adams indicated that the poll’s findings meant African Americans are “a hate group” and that “the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from black people.” The commentator continued, arguing that it “makes no sense whatsoever as a white citizen of America to try to help black citizens anymore” and that “it’s no longer a rational impulse.”
“And so, I’m going to back off from being helpful to black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off. I’ve been doing it all my life. The only outcome is I get called a racist. That’s the only outcome. It makes no sense to help black Americans if you’re white,” the cartoonist concluded.
Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip ‘Dilbert’, goes on racist rant. Tells white people ‘stay the hell away from black people.’ pic.twitter.com/ckoNYsjJEx
— Angela Bassett did the thing! (@cuddapotato) February 24, 2023
It didn’t take long for the video clip to go viral on Twitter and the fallout went as you would have expected. High-profile folks on both the left and right lashed out at Adams’ comments, characterizing them as racist. Even after he posted subsequent podcast episodes further clarifying his comments, critics excoriated him as an anti-black bigot.
Then, the cancelation campaign commenced.
Newspapers across the country pulled the Dilbert comic strip from their publications. USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and hundreds of others announced they would stop publishing the strip. When asked by a popular Washington newspaper how many papers still carried Dilbert, Adams responded: “By Monday, around zero.”
This is not the first time the cartoonist has been canceled. In fact, leftists have been trying to get his comic strip removed for years, mostly due to his irreverent humor, edgy commentary, and likely because of his support of former President Donald Trump. But what about the poll on which Adams seemingly based his conclusion?
What About the Rasmussen Poll?
The Rasmussen survey’s results were already a prominent topic of conversation on social media even before Adams chimed in. But can the survey results be trusted? A cursory glance reveals a glaring problem with the study’s findings.
Rasmussen notes that it surveyed 1,000 respondents, 13% of whom were black. This means researchers questioned 130 African American participants, 47% unsure whether they agreed with the statement or outright disagreed with it. This means that about 61 black respondents were not in agreement with the poll’s premise. The notion that this tiny sampling somehow represents the overall African American population seems a bit absurd, doesn’t it?
Moreover, the phrase “it’s okay to be white” began as something of a clarion call among white supremacists. It was later picked up by ordinary people who were likely unaware of how the trope started. However, many black folks know where the phrase originally comes from, which could also have skewed the results.
Adams Explains His Remarks
During his conversation with Hotep Jesus, Adams said he “owe[s] the world a clarification.” He said:
“The clarification is this: I am opposed to any form of discrimination against individuals not your neighbor… not the person applying for a job. You know, marry who you want, date who you want… be friends [with] who you want…I have no opinion on that except everyone should be treated as individuals – period. From a constitutional legal sense everybody’s got to be treated the same – period.”
Adams also said he has “always been in favor of affirmative action,” but that he believes the country needs “to have a conversation at some point about how to phase it out because once things get close … You end up having more bad will than positive benefit.”
This is a sentiment Adams has expressed in the past on his podcast, along with his belief – which he also articulated on Hotep Jesus’ channel – that one of the most pernicious ways systemic racism has been used against African Americans is through the education system.
He noted that while there are certain things people can do to avoid poverty, getting quality schooling is one of them. “The only thing that doesn’t work is that young black people cannot get a good education because of systemic racism,” he explained, also noting that “the teachers’ unions are a systemic racism problem.”
The conversation between Adams and Hotep Jesus covered a variety of topic, mostly pertaining to race. In the discussion, Adams acknowledged that he made his incendiary remarks to provoke a conversation on the subject. Indeed, those who have watched his work over the years know that while Adams is an out-of-the-box thinker, there seems to be a method to his madness and that he is known for expressing viewpoints that are out of the ordinary.
Nevertheless, as Adams knew would happen, folks are trying to destroy his career and source of income, which doesn’t seem to matter to the cartoonist as he explained that he plans to retire in the near future. Moreover, he indicated that this is only the third act of this particular movie, so perhaps we should expect to see more of the fallout in short order.
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