On Wednesday, Elon Musk added yet more fuel to the firestorm around his many antisemitic remarks, which have led advertisers to leave his social media site, X. At The New York Times’ annual DealBook Summit, he said: “If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising? ... Go f--- yourself.”
But in yet another example of how Musk’s bigotry has been able to go undetected for so long, his far more insidious comments were made just before his rant against advertisers. And while his “f--- you” was reported and shared on social media ad nauseam, very few focused on that particular part of the interview.
During the sit-down, interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin asked Musk about his post agreeing with an X user’s accusation that “Jewish communities” push “hatred against whites.” After ostensibly expressing regret for the post, which led to companies like Disney and Netflix pulling ads from X, Musk effectively reversed course. “Prominent people in the Jewish community,” he claimed, helped fund “demonstrations for Hamas in every major city in the West.”
He added: “If you generically, without condition, fund persecuted groups … some of those persecuted groups, unfortunately, want your annihilation.”
Unfortunately, Sorkin tried to move on instead of realizing what it was: Musk doubling down on antisemitism. In so doing, Sorkin displayed how so many in the media have failed in properly addressing Musk’s bigotry.
Musk’s comments were essentially an attempt at a more “acceptable” version of saying that Jews are the funders behind the minority groups trying to destroy the Western world. This is, in fact, the Great Replacement conspiracy theory — the same one that he supposedly apologized for backing. Musk’s latest version is more qualified, and an attempt to be more specific, but it’s still a conspiracy theory based on the idea that Jews are manipulating world affairs in order to destroy white civilization.
Musk has basically said some version of this conspiracy theory for more than a year now. For example, in September, he said George Soros was funding an “invasion” of immigrants into European countries. “The Soros organization” he wrote, “appears to want nothing less than the destruction of western civilization.” In fact, it is easy to find tweet after tweet after tweet after tweet by Musk spreading versions of this conspiracy theory.
Worse, as both Islamophobia and antisemitism are skyrocketing in America, Musk used this moment to also spread Islamophobia by claiming that all protests against the war in Gaza support Hamas.
The fact that this was all so easily overlooked highlights the danger of the moment. The richest man in the world, who owns a major social media company and has the power to guide the direction of wars, is spreading the same conspiracy theory that caused a man to commit a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue — and other men to kill Black people in Buffalo, immigrants in El Paso and Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Yet, Musk only ended up facing real consequences for his behavior when he responded to a tweet that explicitly mentioned Jews.
And now, when he confirmed his antisemitism on stage, livestreamed to millions of people, we see headlines like “Elon Musk apologizes for antisemitic tweet but tells advertisers ‘go f*** yourself’” and “Video: Elon Musk Apologizes for Endorsing Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory.” The vast majority of the interest has been on his expletives, instead of the very real danger he continues to represent to Jews, Muslims and so many others.
At this point in this saga, there is no excuse for these mistakes. Elon Musk’s “apology” was a distraction that wasn’t worthy of a headline. Here’s what was: Elon Musk is an antisemite and an Islamophobe, and he is incredibly dangerous. It’s time we all treated him that way.