Dilbert comic-strip creator Scott Adams launched a diatribe about Black people being a hate group.
Thirty Four. That’s how many Black people apparently disagreed with the race-baiting question of whether it’s “OK to be white” in a two-question poll from pot-stirring pollster Rasmussen Reports. Some respondents might have disagreed with using a statement that’s long been associated with racist trolling. Others might be perplexed, offended or racist. It’s hard to deduce much from a haiku-length poll that’s designed to provoke. And provoke it did. Dilbert comic-strip creator Scott Adams seized on the results to launch a diatribe on his YouTube channel about Black people being a hate group, telling white people to stay “the hell away.” That prompted a tsunami of newspaper outlets to drop the comic strip, following an earlier move by Lee Enterprises, which dropped the comic strip from its 77 newspapers in September. (Adams’ latest comments were sadly on brand, as Rob Salkowitz points out.) Penguin Random House added to the financial blow, announcing that it would no longer publish Adams’ upcoming book.
Elon Musk, in keeping with his own penchant for offensive and self-destructive statements, then stepped into the fray with several tweets, calling the media racist for dropping Dilbert. Specifically, he argued that mainstream media outlets (which remain overwhelmingly white) have become racist against whites and Asians. Just when things were looking up for Tesla, which is building a new factory in Mexico, Musk had to remind us that EQ and IQ do not move in sync.
Why both men feel so angry and hard done by is a mystery we’ll leave for others to solve, but the result reinforces that capitalism works. Dilbert used to be funny. More recently, it’s become bitter and self-indulgent. In the long run, offending your customers is bad for business. Fans who want to keep reading the strip, which first appeared in 1989, will now have to subscribe through Adams’ service on the Locals platform.
There’s much talk these days about a “parallel economy” where extreme right-wing groups aim to function in peace without being bothered by people who don’t look like them or share their views. (There’s a payment system, too.) From what I see, it doesn’t seem to be thriving. Parler, the right wing social media app, is down to 20 employees. Donald Trump’s Truth Social posts are only noticed when they’re covered in the media. Adidas split with Ye, a.k.a. Kanye West, over his anti-semitic rants and kept the Yeezys.
We are all entitled to our values and beliefs. As I’ve mentioned in this newsletter before, veteran hotelier Bill Marriott is a leader who has both a deep faith and a deep sense of responsibility as a leader. He puts what he calls the American values of hard work, integrity, fairness and respect over his moral beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That meant making the Marriott hotel chain a leader in extending family benefits to same-sex couples, selling alcohol and creating an inclusive environment in which everyone feels welcome – and wants to spend their money.
That’s just good business. While plenty of people hold opinions that might not endear them to their colleagues, customers, or employees, most have the maturity and common sense to shut up--or challenge their own biases--in order to create an environment where things get done. Good luck finding a job in a place where everyone shares your views. I’ve yet to find that at the dinner table, never mind the office. (Job sites that skew to ‘values,’ like Red Balloon, are notable for the lack of big-name employers.)
That doesn’t diminish the danger of extremist groups on either side of the political spectrum, but it’s heartening to see decency and common sense prevail. Adams may continue to delude himself into thinking that he’s lost opportunities for being white or redefine being held accountable as being 'canceled.' His former clients understand, as he does not, that integrity, fairness and respect are more important than pandering to a deluded and hate-filled vendor.
By Diane Brady, Forbes CxO Assistant Managing Editor, Communities & Leadership
This article originally appeared in the Forbes CxO Newsletter