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Scott Adams awkwardly defends a super-awkward Tweet about opponents of Trump

Scott Adams: Dunning-Kruger in action

By David Futrelle

Like Donald Trump, and like a lot of people who think they’re much smarter than they are, cartoonist-turned-Trump-rationalizer Scott Adams hates to admit he’s wrong. Trouble is, he’s wrong a lot; he can barely open his mouth on Periscope or type out a Tweet without saying something ridiculous if not patently false.

But one tweet of his from six months ago has proven to be so egregiously wrong that he’s written an entire blog post trying, and failing to defend it.

Six months after this tweet, Trump’s administration is imploding, our illegitimate president has seen his approval rating drop into the mid-thirties, and some 30,000 people just came out to an anti-fascist march in Boston that was in part a massive public repudiation of Trump’s inability to clearly and convincingly denounce literal Nazis — to name only a few of Trump’s current woes. It’s less awkward than ever to be anti-Trump.

In his blog post, would-be “master persuader” Adams offers up an exceedingly unpersuasive set of arguments — if they can even be called that — to try to convince Trump-haters that they should feel awkward for hating Trump.

As you might expect, anti-Trumper are saying [my] tweet didn’t age well. They are saying this on the same week that their side protested a free speech rally by throwing urine on cops.

Well, no. 30,000 people marched against a rally organized by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and semi-quasi-Nazis that billed itself as a “free speech” march, much in the same way that 9/11 conspiracy theorists define themselves as “Truthers.” The alleged urine-throwers made up a fraction of a percent of the marchers.

Anticipating this obvious rebuttal to his nonsense, Adams remarks snarkily that

I learned this past week that if you are marching with urine-hurlers, and making common cause with urine-hurlers, you’re just as bad as urine-hurlers. And if that logic doesn’t hold up, it would feel super-awkward for me to be on the team that says it does. But that’s just me.

It’s just you. You’re trying to equate a massive peaceful march in Boston that was attended by a miniscule number of alleged “urine-hurlers” with two marches in Charlotteville, organized by and filled to the brim with neo-Nazis and Nazi-equivalents, many of them armored and armed with clubs and pepper spray and in some cases with semi-automatic rifles, a march in which a woman was killed — a woman whose death was declared “more than justified” by one of the march’s speakers and hailed as “payback” by the march’s main organizer.

Adams continues on, grasping at straws.

Meanwhile, Senator Schiff, a prominent anti-Trumper, spoke out today against violence. But he failed to name Antifa or White Supremacists by name, despite being prompted to do so by Jake Tapper in this interview, thus drawing a moral equivalence between Antifa and White Supremacists. And if he later mentions any hate groups by name, we still have to wonder why it took so long. We learned last week from anti-Trumpers that this sort of moral equivalence, and the peculiar pause before a full disavowal, are deeply meaningful. If this logic doesn’t make sense to you, it might feel super-awkward to be on the team that insists it does.

This would be a “gotcha,” I suppose, if Schiff — a Congressman, not a Senator –were actually unwilling to denounce white supremacists. Unfortunately, at least for Adams, Schiff has called them out by name on various occasions, as he did in these Tweets shortly after the debacle in Charlottesville (and before Adams wrote his post).

Adams continues flailing.

And what about the racist dog whistle that anti-Trumpers tell us only they and racists can hear? Is it not super-awkward that your best criticism involves hearing a secret message that only racists can detect?

Well, no. You don’t have to be a white supremacist to notice white supremacist dog whistles; you just have to know something about white supremacists.

Or what if your view is that President Trump accomplished nothing in his first six months? Would this extensive list of his accomplishments make you feel super-awkward?

Now this is awkward — for Adams. The list he’s talking about was posted to Reddit’s The Donald several months ago, and, well, it’s pretty pathetic. It claims, among other things, that “Trump has successfully enacted a Travel Ban” (well, that’s one way of putting it I guess), that he’s put “thousands of coal miners back to work” (bullshit), and that “Trump has already saved taxpayers $86 Billion by cutting regulations” (even the right-wing think-tank “insight” piece cited as evidence only claims that “recent regulatory actions … could produce [emphasis mine] more than $86 billion in savings for taxpayers,” much in the same way, I might add, that my butt could produce flying monkeys). Most of the other “accomplishments” listed are small beans.

Trump’s promise to replace Obamacare with something better, meanwhile, has been a humiliating failure, and last night he announced a “plan” on Afghanistan that was a total repudiation to his oft-repeated promise to get us out of that seemingly endless war.

Did you think that no progress in building the “wall” would be embarrassing for Trump supporters? Or did you see the New York Times confirm that progress is being made?

In fact, the NYT article supposedly supporting this claim states only that

[t]he United States Army Corps of Engineers has begun preliminary preparations for the construction of segments of a wall in several places along the border with Mexico. …

Engineers are drilling and taking soil samples to determine what type of barriers would be most effective in the different types of geography along the border … .

I might as well claim I am making progress on climbing Mount Everest because I periodically walk up flights of stairs.

Perhaps you rejoiced this week about President Trump’s tweet on General Pershing’s handling of Islamic terrorists because he was so factually wrong about the pig blood thing. But maybe you didn’t know how accurate he was according to Pershing’s own words. That feels super-awkward to me, but maybe it sounds different to people who hear the secret racist beacon at the same time.

Trump’s story — claiming that Pershing stopped terrorism for decades by massacring dozens of suspected Muslim terrorists, without trial, using bullets dipped in pig’s blood — has been declared utterly false by historians. (It also would have been a war crime.) The passage in Pershing’s memoirs that Adams links to hardly confirms this story; it makes reference not to massacring Muslims with blood-coated bullets but to burying Muslim terrorists alongside pigs. That’s also racist as fuck — nothing “secret” about Pershing’s or Trump’s racism — but it’s not the same story.

And the inaccuracy of Trump’s tweet was only part of the problem. The much bigger issue? That our president would essentially endorse war crimes as a supposed solution to terrorism.

I will take anti-Trumpers at their word that they don’t feel awkward about any of this.

Well, good, because we very definitely don’t.

I got that prediction totally wrong. …

I will take this opportunity to publicly eat some crow and agree that six months into this presidency, anti-Trumpers do NOT feel super-awkward. But according to Julian Assange, perhaps they should:

Adams posts a screenshot of this tweet from Assange:

The only awkward thing here? That anyone would actually believe — or profess to believe — that the neo-Nazi “free speech” rally had anything to do with free speech. The 30,000 counterprotesters who marched in Boston weren’t protesting against free speech; they were engaging in it. Much like those who have been dragging Adams on Twitter over his ridiculous tweet. Nothing awkward about that.

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Tov01
4 years ago

What a slimy, stupid man he is.

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
4 years ago

I’d head desk but I don’t want to hurt myself. *snerk*

Social Justice Road Warrior
Social Justice Road Warrior
4 years ago

Meanwhile, I am stunned as to how anyone can continue to support Assange.

AidenC
AidenC
4 years ago

Adams also predicted a landslide Trump victory, that blacks, women, and LGBTQ would be better off under Trump than Hillary, and that Trump would be proven to be more intelligent than his 4th-grade vocabulary indicates. Speaking of having no shame, or the slightest bit of self-awareness, how does Adams rationalize his complete failure at predicting?

Shouldn’t he be a master predictor, given that Adams is a self-proclaimed certified genius, and that he claims that his persuasion abilities are so powerful that they are indistinguishable from magic?

MexicanHotChocolate
MexicanHotChocolate
4 years ago

For a couple of guys whose bread and butter IS free speech, Adams and Assange sure don’t know know how it works.

HiddenTurtle
HiddenTurtle
4 years ago

It’s amazing how condescending he can be while presenting such idiotic opinions.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

I don’t even think it goes far enough to say he’s Dunning-Kruger in action anymore. I think the whole phenomenon should actually be renamed the Scott Adams effect.

AidenC
AidenC
4 years ago

Also, zero surprise that Adams is a slobbering fan of rapist Assange, since he did everything in his power to get rapist Trump installed as president.

I remember when Adams claimed to be pro-women because he favored the death penalty for rapists. He was defending his assertion that arguing with a woman was like arguing with a mentally disabled child. Either he had a change of heart, or he was just lying, as he has a long history of doing.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

For a couple of guys whose bread and butter IS free speech, Adams and Assange sure don’t know know how it works.

If we put together an impeach Trump rally but call it a free speech rally instead, Adams and Assange have to support it. Right?

dlouwe
dlouwe
4 years ago

I learned this past week that if you are marching with urine-hurlers, and making common cause with urine-hurlers, you’re just as bad as urine-hurlers. And if that logic doesn’t hold up, it would feel super-awkward for me to be on the team that says it does. But that’s just me.

Okay, so, not even getting into how this makes zero sense (“urine-hurlers” is not an ideological grouping??), I’ll go ahead and say yeah, sure, that’s fine! I’ll take the people who throw urine at cops during protests, and you can have the literal Nazis. Why should I feel awkward about that exchange, exactly?

Still Fiqah
Still Fiqah
4 years ago

I love how “factually wrong” is presented derisively, as though it’s Regular-Ass Wrong’s poor relations.

Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

burying Muslim terrorists alongside pigs

It appears that Pershing himself may have just been quoting an urban legend.

Note that in the passage you link to Pershing isn’t claiming to have done this himself, just referring to it having been done.

However the updated 2013 version of his memoirs makes clear that Pershing had just been told about this happening in a letter from another general, who himself had not seen it ever being done but had heard it was something done in the past.

The general consensus amongst military historians is that it probably never happened during the US campaign, but may be one of those soldier scuttlebutt tales arising from rumours or myths of earlier warfare in the Philippines.

I’d be interested to hear if Pavlov’s House has a view on this though.

RosieLa
RosieLa
4 years ago

If we put together an impeach Trump rally but call it a free speech rally instead, Adams and Assange have to support it. Right?

This is brilliant.

Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

Be interesting to see what would happen if people campaigned to repeal or challenge United States Code Title 18, Section 871 as being unconstitutional under the 1st amendment.

(That’s the ‘threats against the president’ bit)

Paradoxical Intention - Leader of the Deathclaw Damsels

MexicanHotChocolate | August 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm
For a couple of guys whose bread and butter IS free speech, Adams and Assange sure don’t know know how it works.

“Frozen peaches for me, shut the fuck up for thee.”

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

Thing is, if Trump actually had any accomplishments, I’d feel very awkward indeed. Just not for the reasons he thinks…

PeeVee the (Perpetually Ignored, Invisible but Noice) Sarcastic
PeeVee the (Perpetually Ignored, Invisible but Noice) Sarcastic
4 years ago

It’s not awkward being anti-Trump at all. I’m totally secure in my condemnation of him.

Roberta Loblaw
Roberta Loblaw
4 years ago

My favorite was when he announced he was gonna stop giving money to UC Berkeley because he was outraged that Milo wasn’t able to speak there. He seemed completely oblivious to the fact that the institution he was punishing was the one that gave that particular reprobate a forum and wanted him to speak, and they suffered property damage trying to make it happen. Genius tactic, Scottbert.

tim gueguen
4 years ago

When I saw the headline for this post I found myself wondering what would happen if Scott Adams and Frank Miller were put together in the same room. Like Dave Sims whatever quality is found in their work has become overshadowed by their cranky views.

Gijoel
Gijoel
4 years ago

Scott Adams likes to think he’s Dogbert, but in reality he’s just another PHB.

Pavlovs House
Pavlovs House
4 years ago

[emerges from pile of notes for tomorrow’s class on Caesar as Ms. Pavlov’s House marches off valiantly to her night shift]

Thanks, Alan. What you wrote is *generally* covers it. By the 2013 memoirs you likely mean what David cited and the Google Books excerpt to which he linked, which is Pershing’s My Life Before the World War, 1860-1917: A Memoir, ed. John T. Greenwood (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2013)

The other general you mentioned who reports hearing of burying killed Moros with pigs is perhaps Maj. Gen. James Franklin Bell, commander of the Philippine Department?

Greenwood documents the excerpt David cites pretty thoroughly; that footnote 12 on p. 285 (c.f. David’s linked page) leads to Greenwood’s note on p. 663.

Greenwood explains there:

“Pershing was very familiar with this incident on Sunday, 16 April, but does not mention the second attack which occurred on Jolo on the following Wednesday (19 April), in which two Moros killed a Sergeant Fergusson at the guard house. He visited Jolo on his annual inspection tour just several days later and on 22 April wrote an extended description of these events to Major General Bell, the commander of the Philippines Division. In his letter, Pershing broached the question of disarming the Moros but noted that all of his predecessors has decided ‘that it is next to impossible to do so without a war’. For a variety of reasons, he also concluded that ‘the time has not yet come’ for disarmament. On 23 May, Bell replied:

‘Your report of the affair is entirely satisfactory and I am in full accord with your views. In fact I had anticipated that the facts would be as you state them. On course there is nothing to be done, but I understand it has long been a custom to bury juramentados with pigs when they kill Americans. I think this is a good plan, for if anything it will discourage the juramentado it is the prospect of going to hell instead of to heaven. You can rely on me to stand by you in maintaining this custom. It is the only possible thing we can do to discourage these crazy fanatics.'”
[Greenwood gives the full citation of this letter from Bell to Pershing, which is in the Pershing Papers at the Library of Congress, Box 370, Governor of the Moro Province].

So, yes, Bell is reporting hearsay but it’s important to note he explicitly says agrees with the policy. Even if it isn’t true, Pershing’s superior says it’s a good idea and thinks it would be effective.

The broader point, however, in my opinion is that *Pershing* did not think it was a good idea. He makes that clear in the memoir cited above edited by Greenwood.

It is conceivable that American troops did bury killed Moros with pigs, but one would have to do more research to document that; perhaps look in individual unit records; e.g. regimental-level reports, etc. Private letters contemporary to the period would also be a source; as Alan indicates though someone might have found sources written far after the fact in which some old soldier is spinning a tale. And yes, scholarly historians would be more likely to reject or heavily question the reliability of that type of source.

Again, though, whether anybody buried killed Moros with pigs or not, harsh treatment of the Moros was not consistent with the policy Pershing actually enacted when he was Governor of Moro Province, nor consistent with what Pershing wrote and said about American rule in the Philippines and what he thought American military policy in the Philippines should be.

The most thorough and authoritative biography of Pershing is probably still Frank E. Vandiver’s Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing, 2 vols. (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1977); Vandiver makes quite clear in great detail that Pershing’s policy in the Moro Province was one characterized by development and conciliation. (Pershing was like his predecessor Tasker Bliss in that respect, but unlike the harsher Leonard Wood.)

The scholar who has worked most recently and most intensively on the U.S. Army in the Philippines is probably Brian McAllister Linn; see his Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998) — Linn has also made clear in public statements that he has never seen any evidence of the supposed Pershing mass execution with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.

Again, though, the problem of falsehood is double — there’s no evidence about the mass-shooting with pig-blood bullets AND even if there was John J. Pershing didn’t think that kind of thing would work in the way that Trump and others have claimed. Regardless of shootings or burials with pigs, if you actually study Pershing (like Trump suggested) you would get pretty much the opposite conclusion of what Trump said.

That’s word of the people who, you know, actually study Pershing because it’s their job to do so.

Of course the even deeper issue is that if one is REALLY concerned with the best way to stop Moro attacks on your forces in the Philippines there is another alternative: *don’t be imperialist and try to rule the Philippines against its inhabitants wishes in the first place*. But, uh, what we do we know…..

Robert Walker-Smith
Robert Walker-Smith
4 years ago

Tim Gueguen,
Adams, Miller, and Sim in a room, doing a takeoff on the Four Yorkshiremen sketch.

If you’re out of ipecac, you could use the audio recording to induce vomiting.

Ray of Rays
Ray of Rays
4 years ago

@ Pavlov’s House

*claps in appreciation*

Arctic Ape
Arctic Ape
4 years ago

And what about the racist dog whistle that anti-Trumpers tell us only they and racists can hear?

Anti-Trumpers and racists? Isn’t that pretty much everyone in US?

zaunfink
zaunfink
4 years ago

@pavlov’s house

That was great! I love reading the comments after particularly dumb posts, because I can feel my brain cells being reinvigorated by the intelligence displayed by this community.

And that level of research and knowledge is truly amazing.

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