Opinion: Musk not so absolutist about free speech from critics
photo by: Tribune Content Agency
Too bad. I seriously have been considering buying a Tesla but you-know-who, the company’s famous CEO, seems determined to drive me away at top speed.
In that, I am not alone. Billionaire Elon Musk is facing a wave of backlash for a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter until he bought that, too, and changed the name.
His endorsement of a tweet helped give new life to old antisemitic tropes.
The incident began with a post last Wednesday from a self-identified conservative Jewish user who complained about antisemitic content on social media during the Gaza conflict.
“To the cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and posting ‘Hitler was right,'” he wrote. “You got something you want to say? Why don’t you say it to our faces.”
An alleged white nationalist account soon responded by attributing this antisemitism to minorities and blaming it on the Jews:
“Jewish commun(i)ties have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them,” said the post.
“I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest (barnyard epithet) now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that (they) support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.
“You want truth said to your face, there it is.”
Helpful? I think not.
But the exchange would have been easier to ignore had Musk not chimed in with this little nugget: “You have said the actual truth.”
Oh? Which part? To many eyes and ears, including mine, Musk’s posting seemed to endorse the age-old lie that Jews and minorities are conspiring to flood the country with nonwhites, particularly Muslims, to displace the white race under a brand of paranoid lunacy known internationally as “the great replacement theory.”
Here we go again. As an African American, I have become all too familiar with paranoid scenarios that cast minorities as either a direct threat or as victims manipulated by some other group, presumably to oppress the white Christian mainstream.
Adding to its outrageousness, the message Musk endorsed echoed the last words posted online by Robert Bowers before he massacred worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, the single deadliest antisemitic attack in American history.
In postings before his massacre, Bowers already had built up a record of such abhorrent assertions.
I still believe most Americans know better than to believe the not-great replacement theory, but too many subscribe to the baloney.
In August, a federal jury unanimously found Bowers guilty and sentenced him to death, but like some other racist killers, he is sickeningly celebrated online.
By Sunday, Musk became the story, which is hardly an unfamiliar place for him to occupy, as major advertisers began to peel away from X. Household names such as Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount and Sony joined other major X advertisers in choosing not to advertise on the social media platform.
At the same time, liberal non-profit watchdog group Media Matters for America (MMFA) published a report showing that X was running ads for major mainstream brands alongside user posts espousing pro-Nazi views.
The report came after Musk personally posted a series of tweets that the White House called an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.”
Outraged, Musk wrote late Friday night, “The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company.”
A “thermonuclear lawsuit?” That’s a new one. I guess the Musk who famously claimed to be a “free speech absolutist” isn’t so absolute after all.
— Clarence Page is a columnist for Tribune Content Agency.