Calling All White People, Part 61: Hey, Dickbert! I see you…

TODAY’S EPISODE: That poor, poor, oppressed comic strip creator

Like most of Gen X—and probably a large chunk of the Millennial generation as well—I spent my formative teen and young adult years consuming comic strips. Whether in the newspaper or in bound collections or photocopies taped or pinned to walls or…eventually…on the internet.

Some were just fun humor. Some were sarcastic or a little subversive. Some were political and thought-provoking among the jokes.

I enjoyed both daily and weekly fare—The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, Bloom County, Fox Trot, Doonesbury and more. And yes, Dilbert.

As an occupant of many cubicles over the years and the victim of more than my share of terrible bosses and supervisors and workplace policies, I ate up Dilbert.

I still have at least a few collections of the comic strip. I’m sure I’ll be back into them one day for some chuckles and nostalgia. However, I haven’t read that strip in real-time in years, and that’s because Scott Adams is an asshole. A hate-filled, right-wing tool. His misogyny and racism and more started really showing years ago, so I was already done with the man and his ongoing work long ago.

But as you may have heard, he went on an openly racist rant very recently. And when I say “openly racist” the only thing missing was a KKK robe and hood. He was expertly parroting all the right-wing talking points and instead of going for dog whistle stuff he mostly went bald-faced dishonest and racist—as so many talking heads and politicians on the right are doing now. Increasingly, they aren’t even pretending to be decent humans anymore.

I don’t have much to say about Adams’ rant or how blatantly wrong it was about so many things; others have done that work for me. I want to talk about intention and aftermath. Plenty of people were cheering when the newspapers started dropping his strip immediately after his rant, and when his distributor/syndicator did as well.

I wasn’t cheering.

You know why? Because this wasn’t a slip. It wasn’t an accident. Adams knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t lose his cool in a moment of poor judgment. Sure, I’m glad his strip will be dropped and that he probably will have to retire from Dilbert.

What I’m worried about is what’s next. For him and so many other rich, prominent white people (men in particular) with right-wing ideology filling their heads and hate, discrimination and exclusion filling their hearts. I worry about how much they are going to keep pushing their agenda and pulling in impressionable young people as well as firing up older folks who are just so invested in “owning the libs” and turning back the clock to 1950 or earlier on race, gender, sexuality, and more.

Scott Adams bemoaned shortly after his rant and the dropping of his strip that he knows there is no coming back from this.

He’s lying. He’s made his millions already and he’s set. And he likely has a plan for the new phase of his life.

He knows full well there is plenty of coming back from this. He can simply be a martyr for the cause—the guy who just spoke his mind and got “canceled” by the left wing and he can write about it or talk about it online. He could become a Fox News talking head and make the other conservative media circles like podcasts and such. He might even run for office. Who knows?

I don’t know what his plans are. But I figure he was tired of doing the strip and couldn’t peacefully retire (temporarily or permanently) like Bill Watterson or Berke Breathed or whomever else and either find some new decent way to express themselves or simply relax,

He wanted to push the boundaries and overstep the line. He wanted to get “canceled.” He wanted that right-wing badge of honor. He almost certainly has plans. I don’t fool myself that he or any other right-wing hatemonger is down for the count when they “mess up” publicly. It certainly doesn’t deter their supporters; it energizes them.

And if you haven’t noticed, the right has been energized enough for decades already to keep the US plenty conservative in most ways—and then roll back so many progressive gains and freedoms in just a few years recently—despite the majority of Americans not wanting full-on right-wing policies.

Stop thinking these are accidents or that losing a gig really hurts most of the right-wing folks with money, influence and/or power. Look at what’s going on behind the curtain. Or we’re all going to lose.

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

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