Let’s begin with the supersized panic of the American right.
Post-Obama backlash may have escalated the panic more than 10 years ago, but then Donald Trump poured gasoline on the freakout.
It was Trump who unveiled the racism and misogyny that was always there, but threw it wide open — normalized the depths of the country’s prejudice, even made it fashionable for conservatives. Their vision of America crystallized online and within our government, too: the post-Trump age of open fascism.
We saw open demonstrations of hate, from white nationalists using tiki torches to light up Charlottesville to the attempted Confederate takeover of the Capitol. Once the Pandora’s box of bigotry is open, things get out of control quickly — and in a horrifying way.
People don’t even feel bad about their anti-Blackness these days. They’re actually kind of proud of it.
Case in point: “Dilbert,” the widely syndicated comic strip about office culture that appeared in 2,000 newspapers around the world. You may be familiar with the comic but maybe not its creator, Scott Adams.
Frankly, I had no idea who the guy was ... well, until he went on a racist rant on YouTube last Wednesday.
OK, there’s a lot to unpack there. The unabashed anti-Blackness and racism, but also this country’s long history of dubbing Black people as the hateful, violent ones — while also exposing this weird, offensive belief that white people need to “get something” out of helping others.
Hundreds of newspapers, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today, announced they would stop publishing “Dilbert” after Adams’ tirade.
Also, that part the “Dilbert” guy mentioned about a poll? He was talking about a poll by Rasmussen Reports, the right-wing polling outfit, that “found” 53% of Black Americans agreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white.”
Why would a poll even ask that? Because it’s Rasmussen, of course, the agenda-driven, conspiracy theory-boosting pollster who loves to stir the pot in the culture war. The phrase “It’s OK to be white,” by the way, has been labeled a “hate slogan” by the Anti-Defamation League, a slogan popularized as a trolling campaign by members of 4Chan.
The poll also “found” that 66% of Black Americans agreed “Black people can be racist, too.” A poll, mind you, that surveyed 1,000 people, so how many Black people said this? My guess is ... 12?
In a move that surprised no one, Twitter destroyer Elon Musk defended the “Dilbert” creator, saying that it’s actually the media that’s “racist against whites and Asians.”
But a story about a cartoon creator becoming the voice of the great white male freakout doesn’t end at “Dilbert,” or even at Elon Musk. It ends — or rather, begins — with white grievance politics potentially becoming U.S. federal policy.
If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis becomes president of the United States — which he is clearly aiming for — America will become the land of total government control over women’s bodies, Black history, gender identity, how you can teach, learn, read, think — even talk!
It would essentially be a more functionally authoritarian version of Trump.
A “more action, less personality” type of president who is basically offering two options: pre-civil rights America ... or total control of society.
But, of course, his robust PR team has you thinking quite the opposite, which is why his new book — titled, and I’m not making this up, “The Courage to Be Free” — is a firsthand account from the blue-collar boy with a dream to take down Disney and librarians.
It got scorched by The New York Times, obviously, with its reviewer saying: “All the culture war Mad Libs can’t distract from the dull coldness at this book’s core.” And the reviewer said the book will leave some supporters, who have encouraged DeSantis to “humanize” himself, sorely disappointed.
The world DeSantis is building down in Florida is one that uses the power of government to make the “Dilbert” guys of the world feel comfortable. Feel good about themselves. Centered.
Did you know that this isn’t even Baby MAGA’s first book? He also penned “Dreams From Our Founding Fathers,” published in 2011, and it pretty much sums up what we know about the guy.
David Waldstreicher wrote about the book in The Atlantic, saying the most revealing and consequential element of the book is the “insistence that the role of slavery, and race more broadly ... does not seriously change anything about how we should understand the birth and development of our country.”
This is an excerpt from Monday’s episode of the “The ReidOut.” It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.