Sunday, February 26, 2023


In response to racist remarks by Scott Adams, many newspapers have dropped his long-running comic strip, "Dilbert." Adams called Black people a "hate group" and urged whites "to get the hell away" from them -- all of which seems consistent with the other right-wing opinions Adams has expressed in recent years. But Wikipedia reminds us that Adams used to be hard to pin down politically:
In 2007, he suggested that Michael Bloomberg would make a good presidential candidate. Before the 2008 presidential election he said, "On social issues, I lean libertarian, minus the crazy stuff." In December 2011 he said that if he were president, he would do whatever Bill Clinton advised him to do because that "would lead to policies that are a sensible middle ground." On October 17, 2012, he wrote, "While I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president." In a blog post from September 2017, Adams described himself as being "left of Bernie Sanders, but with a preference for plans that can work."
(Links deleted.)

I'm not quoting this to argue that it's wrong to call Adams a right-wing racist. He is a right-wing racist. But he used to have some political ideas that weren't right-wing, even if they were half-formed. This reminds me of the much-maligned New York Times story about Elon Musk that ran under the headline "Critics Say Musk Has Revealed Himself as a Conservative. It’s Not So Simple." By the time the story was published, it was obvious that Musk had picked a side -- Team Wingnut -- but he used to be somewhat more right-centrist than he is now. (In the past, he claimed that he'd "voted overwhelmingly for Democrats" and supported immigration and somewhat higher taxes on rich people.) New York magazine's Eric Levitz wrote a critique of the Times under the headline "Elon Musk’s Politics Are About As Complicated As Trump’s," which seems accurate because Trump and Musk are both right-wing extremists now -- but Trump was a right-centrist (pro-choice, an admirer of the Clintons) in the distant past.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about George Santos, Tara Reade and others who struggled in life until they discovered wingnuttery or (in Reade's case) Democrat-bashing, which they then made an organizing principle of their lives. This clearly happens to successful people as well -- in addition to Adams, Musk, and Trump, there's also Kanye West. Maybe we should also include Naomi Wolf, James Woods, and Matt Taibbi, whose careers had faded, and who then found purpose and meaning in right-wing crackpottery.

If you've had some success in life and you're an attention addict, the right provides many narratives that are compelling and easy to follow (even if they're batshit crazy), plus an audience full of eager fanboys and fangirls. Endorse these right-wing ideas and the fans will come flocking. It's an easy way to sustain the high you get from adulation, especially if it's been hard to come by recently.(That's certainly what happened to Trump, the faded real-estate mogul and reality-TV star, when he discovered Fox News and became a regular on the channel.)

Also, right-wing ideology is inherently an ego boost. Nothing is your fault! Everything bad is the fault of evil liberals! Egomaniacs like Musk, Trump, West, and even Wolf clearly need to be reassured that they're not failures. The right-wing message is very comforting to them.

Scott Adams will be fine. Right-wing sites will pick up his strip, from which he's already made a boatload of money. Readers commenting on a Fox News story about Adams are overwhelmingly supportive:
Did the newspaper drop him because they would lose black readers? Or fear violence?


He spoke the truth, which one mustn't do these days in the West. I and a majority of whites agree with him 100%


I live in Montana so you can see them coming from a mile away. No greater sense of security.
His income will drop, but he'll get a lot of positive reinforcement.

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