First of all an apology.
Regular readers of this column know that each week I try to dedicate this space to follow-up cases that tend to resonate with Al Jazeera’s global audience.
I try to resist the easy temptation to get into the outrage du jour that occupies the attention of so many short-sighted columnists who write for Western news organizations.
I’ve made an exception this time because even though the central character of this column is another insignificant white American man, what happened to him and why it happened to him is too irresistible not to write about.
It’s irresistible because it’s a welcome and much-needed reminder that a moral compass – which seems as distant as a dim star – somehow persists, albeit on life support, in parts of this crazy, angry and depressing world .
So, please forgive me, dear reader, for exposing you to the likes of Scott Adams, a gullible cartoonist who has showered himself with racism and thankfully had to answer for it.
Dilbert, the cartoon that Adams sketched and for which he gained a small degree of fame, is, in my opinion, forgettable, like the man. It’s not nearly as sharp or funny as the dearly deceased one-piece comic marvel, The Far Side.
For the millions of discerning readers unfamiliar with Adams or his ugly sayings that sparked his quick and delicious earnings, here’s some important context.
The first indication of Adams’ malevolent attitude is that he, with occasional reservations reveres Donald Trump as, among his other praiseworthy qualities, a “master persuader”. Figures.
The second clue confirms the first clue. Adams recently said this on his popular YouTube channel: “Based on the current state of affairs, the best advice I would give white people is to get the fuck away from black people.”
In addition to sharing this sickening piece of “best advice,” Adams repeatedly referred to people who are black as members of a “hate group” or a “racist hate group” in his tirade and said he would no longer “help Black Americans.”
I’m sure black Americans are relieved to learn that Adams—their self-proclaimed white savior—has finally abandoned them in a fit of honesty about what he, like so many other MAGA misanthropes, thinks of them.
To recap, Adams believes black Americans are a “racist hate group” that white Americans should “get the fuck out of.”
That’s Racism 101 in, excuse me, black and white.
Now, I don’t know if Adams expected the righteous reaction his repulsive remarks would provoke, but I’m sure his wealth-fuelled privilege, sex, and abiding sense of entitlement took the brunt of the blow.
Chris Quinn, the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, told the newspaper’s subscribers that the decision to drop the Adams cartoon was “not a hard one.”
“No, this is a decision based on the principles of this news organization and the community we serve. We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly don’t want to give them financial support,” he says wrote.
A cascade of other shocked editors followed in like-minded series. They were soon joined by Adams’ book publisher and syndication service.
Adams’ almost general excommunication was necessary. It was also a sign that despite the ugliness and bigotry that shadow us and often go unpunished, a modicum of decency, however fleeting, remains possible.
A cynic like me might dismiss their mass condemnation of Adams as a business decision driven by a selfish cost-benefit analysis.
That may have been part of their calculation.
Yet the breadth and intensity of Adams’ disapproval suggest that editors were motivated by surprising conviction, not money.
They all insisted that Adams was entitled to “free speech” and that breaking their long-standing relationship with the cartoonist was not evidence of “cancellation culture”, but a palpable repudiation of his odious beliefs.
Sorry, if anyone has the right to be “cancelled” it’s Scott Adams. More than that, there are times and circumstances where “cancellation” isn’t enough and demand that toxic, unrepentant racists – figuratively speaking – be erased from mainstream culture and, if possible, relegated to the sick, obscure parts of the internet where they belong.
I can think of several other toxic, unrepentant racists who deserve such an erasure as a tonic to the stream of hatred and bigotry they spew with such predictable illiteracy and rudeness.
And for once, the irritating brigade of “freethinkers,” gripped by the career-consuming need to purge “wokeism” from public discourse, has gone mute. What a relief and blessing.
With one notable exception, not one of the brave, TV and podcast-parading “free speech” contrarians has come to Adams’ side.
Apparently there are instances where the “free speech” fighters agree with the fragile sensibilities of the awake weaklings they damn and curse. Sometimes it seems that the rhetoric is too far and the injury is too deep to even apologize or defend for this set.
Car salesman Elon Musk was not so shy. The white knight got on his white horse (Twitter) to complain that Adams was a victim of US media being “racist against whites and Asians”.
Musk reportedly deleted a tweet responding to a comment from Adams about his comic strip being dumped, with this amazing and instructive question: “What exactly are they complaining about?”
I wonder what the pretentious media allies of Musk – who extol the virtues of the “Twitter file” delivering iconoclasm – are praising their oh-so-caring patron these days?
I doubt they will acknowledge, much less admit publicly, that their saint seems to endorse Adams’ version of what amounts to apartheid.
Meanwhile, the rich white cartoonist just keeps whining Twitterof course, that “rich, white folks”—who don’t understand or comprehend the nuance of his vile, sectarian musings—have taken him out of context and “canceled” him.
Adams has 926,000 followers on Twitter. His podcast Real Coffee with Scott Adams has over 136,000 subscribers on YouTube.
“Cancelled.” (My expletive removed.)
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial view of Al Jazeera.