Dilbert and Ilhan

A cartoonist and Congresswoman who can't put a cork in it.

Dilbert and Ilhan
I'm just going to hide behind this guy for awhile. 

Well, it's been an interesting week as we wrap up Black History Month. No, I'm not talking about, as Saturday Night Live pointed out, a white kid, not named Larry Bird, won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

No, I'm talking about the cartoonist behind a modestly amusing daily comic strip dedicated to the silliness inherent in the modern office workplace. That strip being Dilbert, featuring a featureless, bespectacled dweeb with no mouth. Think of the beloved Milton from the film Office Space without the personality.

I was told there would be a pay check. 

I have always found it mildly clever with the occasional direct hit on modern business gibberish. And, though it takes jabs at modern office culture, and occasionally culture itself, one never saw the creator, Scott Adams, as George Wallace with a pen, but, well here we are.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, and that might be good advice some weeks, Adams has taken careful aim at his career and pulled the trigger. Apparently, he was reading some sort of moronically worded poll by the Rasmussen organization, always a bad idea, and then decided it was conversely a good idea to tell the world what he thought. The "poll" asked perhaps the most loaded, and clumsily presented question imaginable.

"Is it OK to be white?"

Well, the white part is OK, but not the man bun.

First of all, how goofy a question is that? Is it intended to draw some sort of racially polarizing response? Well, of course it is, and it did. According to the completely neutral gang at Rasmussen, 53% of black Americans said yes, it's OK for me to continue to be white, or something like that. It's not like a have a choice in that, so I suppose they were asking if we melanin-deprived folks who still run the joint, are basically an OK group of people.

I would have shown you a video of the remarks, but the only way it's available now is within a newscast, and I don't want to prejudice your opinion here. See what I did there? And Scott has removed that actual episode from his website. So here is the comment verbatim...

“They said, ‘Do you agree with or disagree with the statement ‘It’s OK to be white. That was an actual question. 47% of Black respondents were not willing to say it’s OK to be white. That’s actually­—and that’s like, a real poll,” he said.
“If nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with White people, according to this poll, not according to me … that’s a hate group,” Adams said, among other things. White people should “get the hell away from Black people. Just get the f*ck away.”

Scott tried to walk back his comments as misunderstood—“everyone should be treated as an individual,” he said in another episode of his show—but not before hundreds of newspapers committed to dropping his strip, and his publisher killed a planned book.

Dilbert? Really? 

The poll actually had two questions on it, each equally dumb. The second was...

“Do you agree or disagree with this statement: ‘Black people can be racist, too.’”

That isn't just a loaded question, it was apparently loaded by Elmer Fudd into the rifle that backfires when Bugs sticks his finger in the barrel. And Adams was standing next to Elmer when it went off.

And actually, it turns out the question, "is it OK to be white?" began on the extremist social media site 4chan as a common catchphrase among white power types. Witness its use by noted moderate David Duke.

In addition, the Rasmussen folks polled about 1000 people, we don't know the method, and 13% were African-American, so about 130 people. That means 34 people produced the answer that Scott Adams based the end of his livelihood on.

Now, as national crises go, this is right up there with Mr. Potato Head and his missing appendage, or something. Or is it simply potato now, or the potato formerly known as..honestly, I can't keep up. All I know is it's as bad as the desexed little M&M people and the war on Christmas.

I don't know, doctor. I feel like I'm exploring my true nature lately.

But then a certain South African billionaire weighed in on that Twitter deal he bought, saying, essentially, "Hey, what's the big deal?" And, as if that wasn't enough, he accused the press in general of being too hard on white folks. He threw in Asians, as well, among the persecuted, though I understand they are still dealing with those pinheads shouting "China Virus!"  at them on the street, so he might not want to bring that one up.

I have this mental picture of the entire Board of Directors of Tesla with their heads in their hands, shortly before frantic calls to their brokers with sell orders.

But, lest Democrats or just liberals in general feel too smug in their cloak of self-righteousness, there is the Representative from the 5th District of Minnesota. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has a problem.

"Wait, you said what?"

When it comes to our neighbors of the Jewish persuasion, she can't shut her pie hole. Now, don't get me wrong, like Scott Adams, she is entitled to her opinion, no matter how subtle or blatant the bigotry may be. But her excuses are, how you say, lame? For example, she tweeted back in 2021...

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

Now, goodness knows, the US and Israel have done some shameful things and certainly are not above criticism. I have Israeli friends who are unhappy with the direction of the government there. But the comparison to Hamas, Afghanistan and the Taliban, where women are treated as cooking and baby making machines, gay people are thrown off of tall buildings, and killing Jews is a long held fantasy, if not reality, is frankly outrageous.

I was told to deliver this to the House of Representatives. 

But it seems the Representative also felt compelled to throw the old "dual loyalty" trope on the table like the stag tossed by Errol Flynn in Robin Hood. The contention here is, American Jews have divided loyalties with Israel and the US. It's insulting and she knows it.

Now, as an American of Irish ancestry, for example, I dearly hope that Ireland will be one island again and remove that silly invention that is Northern Ireland. But this is my country, and it comes first.

But Omar didn't stop there. When asked about US support for Israel, she commented that...

"It's all about the Benjamins."

My favorite part about this one is her professed ignorance that the caricature of Jews throwing money around to influence things in the world, is a nasty little fiction as old as the Bible, Shakespeare, Hitler, Stalin and some who seem to think they are investing in Hebrew space lasers.

No, really. I thought it meant Benjamin Netanyahu.

Representative Omar came to the US as a child, but grew up  and was educated here. She is smart and culturally savvy, and she never heard that one? So why did she use it? That excuse is as transparent as Scott Adams and his attempted face saving.

The plain and sad fact of the matter is that this stuff is still alive and well, and we all know folks who are true believers. I have a comedian friend who observed that when someone leans in to say something quietly, and looks around the room first, what follows will no doubt be ugly. My advice is to tell him so, even if you can't stop running his cartoons or remove him from a committee.

OK, if he's drunk and much bigger than you, tell him over your shoulder as you're leaving.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.