Conservatives Must Unequivocally Reject Scott Adams’ Arguments - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Conservatives Must Unequivocally Reject Scott Adams’ Arguments
Scott Adams (Real Coffee with Scott Adams/YouTube)

Conservatives must decisively reject any efforts made by the fringes of the Right to create racist narratives in their political movement.

It’s sad that this must even be said, but black Americans are not a hate group. On Wednesday last week, Scott Adams, creator of the long-running Dilbert comic strip, went over a recent Rasmussen poll on a YouTube livestream, dishonestly interpreted the results, and pushed a bogus narrative of black hatred for whites. Conservatives should not take Scott Adams seriously and should unequivocally reject the narrative that he puts forth.

Last Wednesday, Rasmussen Reports, a nonpartisan polling agency, published a report on a new poll that asked a random sample of 1,000 Americans how much they agreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white.”

Scott Adams caught onto a particular subset of the data from this Rasmussen poll. The data showed that, among black Americans, 53 percent agreed with the statement that “It’s OK to be white,” 26 percent disagreed, and 21 percent were “not sure.” Adams then claimed that, if the poll was correct, then blacks were “a hate group.” He went on to argue that white Americans should “get the hell away” from black Americans and should self-segregate.

These statements kicked up a storm, with his comic being dropped by virtually every newspaper that runs it, sparking debate in both conservative and liberal circles.

As a small ‘c’ conservative, I am deeply troubled by the seriousness with which many conservatives are taking Adams’ arguments and the lack of principled rebuttals to his claims in their circles. The Rasmussen poll is deeply biased, and even if it wasn’t, Scott Adams would still be wrong in his advocacy of self-segregation by whites and in his misuse of data to infer the attitudes of specific black communities.

When writing questions for polls, a critical question to ask is “how might this question be misinterpreted?” If a pollster is attempting to isolate a data point (such as black Americans’ sentiment toward white Americans), they must remember this step, or they risk asking a question that fails to isolate the data point they are evaluating.

The phrase “It’s OK to be white” can be taken literally and understood as meaning there’s nothing wrong with having white skin. The phrase can also be understood as a political slogan, since that was how it was used in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The political connotation of the phrase is important since it means that some Americans will interpret the phrase as a political slogan.

This framing of the question caused the poll to capture two variables with a single question: it captured how people feel about “It’s OK to be white” as a statement, and it also captured how people feel about it as a slogan. It may be that most black Americans interpret the statement as an anti-BLM slogan, and disagree with it as such, even though they would agree with it as a statement. What proportion is doing so is impossible to determine, given the flawed framing of the question.

Scott Adams did not entertain the possibility of bias in his Wednesday statement. Instead, he skewed the results, disregarding the “not sure” category of responses, and claiming that the poll showed that “nearly half of black people are not okay with white people,” which he believes shows that black people are “a hate group.” This in turn justifies his decision to move “to a neighborhood … [that has] a very low black population” and advocate that other white people do the same, suggesting that it “makes no sense as a white citizen of America to help black citizens.”

This is wrongheaded, and taking this argument seriously is a mistake. Conservatives should not dispense with principles of fair, equal, and nondiscriminatory treatment of fellow citizens, especially on the basis of such flawed data and reasoning.

Even if the Rasmussen poll was accurately showing black sentiment, it would still not justify discrimination. Statistics are powerful tools, but a given sampled distribution of data points does not tell you where a specific individual or community falls within that distribution. If you meet a specific individual, you may know something about how the groups to which they belong may think, but you know nothing of what that individual thinks — whether they are on one end of the distribution of opinion or the other. The same goes for individual communities — churches, schools, neighborhoods, etc., none of which are random samples of individuals.

To pretend that data does justify discrimination against individuals and communities is shallow reasoning that runs directly counter to the conservative principle of nondiscriminatory treatment, which the very outrage against this poll shows that we yet hold dear.

While Adams later admitted that the poll was probably biased, and attempted to measure his claims, he did not clearly state that they were wrong. Conservatives should not advance Adams’ arguments as they stand and should decisively reject them: do not attempt to segregate our communities; do not let statistics justify discrimination against individuals or groups; do not treat people, in communities or as individuals, as representative of broadly construed groups.


Canceling Scott Adams

Sign up to receive our latest updates! Register

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The American Spectator, 122 S Royal Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Be a Free Market Loving Patriot. Subscribe Today!