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The Dilbert cartoon has been discussed in the last week more than it has ever experienced in its lifetime, and it appears the endlessly uninteresting comic strip is likely to be remembered in infamy.
Growing up in the ’90s has a certain nostalgia for many of us. As a lifelong word nerd, I often looked forward to the Sunday newspapers’ cartoons which entertained, nurtured a sense of humor, and digestibly provided commentary to our nation’s most pressing issues.
However, one eyesore of a story was always that of Dilbert, who by the looks of him was a Sears accountant? Perhaps a Windows 95 customer tech agent? An American Gladiators sports agent? No idea.
In truth, I know not a single fact about the Dilbert cartoon as it was the ’90s version of a YouTube-5-second-ad-skip fit in between funnier stories coming from Garfield, Blondie & Dagwood, Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and Hagar The Horrible.
Perhaps Scott Adams, the cartoon creator, wasn’t speaking to me then because he surely is not now.
Adams said Monday that the strip, which first appeared in 1989, will only be available on his subscription service after being “cancelled.”
Bland opening, bland closing
According to Yahoo!, last Wednesday, Adams discussed a poll from the conservative group Rasmussen Reports that surveyed 1,000 Americans with the question: “Do you agree or disagree with this statement, ‘It’s OK to be white’?” (The Anti-Defamation League characterizes the phrase “It’s OK to be white” as a hate slogan due to its links to to white supremacist websites.)
The report found that 72% of the respondents agreed, including 53% who are Black, according to NPR. Adams cited the poll to emphasize his belief that racial tensions in America “can’t be fixed.”
Adams said in part, “As you know, I’ve been identifying as Black for a while. Years now, because I like to be on the winning team.” According to Adams’ logic, because of this poll, he’s now taking his blasé talents to the losing team.
“If nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with White people … that’s a hate group,” he declared. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people … because there is no fixing this.”
Adams, who apparently publicly embraces right-wing ideology, said he’s no longer helping Black Americans.
“It turns out that nearly half of that team doesn’t think I’m okay to be White,” he continued. “I’m going to back off from being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off… I get called a racist. That’s the only outcome. It makes no sense to help Black Americans if you’re white. It’s over. Don’t even think it’s worth trying.”
Adams later encouraged White people to “get away” from Black people.
Since his comments have come out, hundreds of newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, announced they will no longer carry Adams’ work.
On Monday, Adams’ distributor, Andrews McMeel Universal, said they are severing ties with the cartoonist because the company does not support “any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate.”
Fellow cartoonists wonders what took so long
Though he’s now publicly revealed himself as a racist among the masses, the entertainment industry has questioned his motives for years.
“It begs the question, now that everyone is piling on him, what took so long?” said Keith Knight, an illustrator known for his comic strips The Knight Life, (th)ink and The K Chronicles. He is also a co-creator of the Hulu comedy show Woke, which chronicles the life of a Black cartoonist.
NPR reports cartoonists across the country are applauding editors and publishers for condemning Adams.
“I’m proud and happy to see publishers, magazines, and newspapers are dropping him because there should be no tolerance for that kind of language,” said Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, a cartoonist for The New Yorker.
“It’s a relief to see him held accountable,” she added.