Elon Musk tweeted his fervent agreement with an antisemitic statement on Wednesday night.
A tweet posted by @breakingbaht on Wednesday night read: “Jewish communties [sic] have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”
The billionaire owner and CTO of X, formerly Twitter, responded the same evening: “You have said the actual truth.” In another reply, he wrote: “I am deeply offended by ADL’s messaging and any other groups who push de facto anti-white racism or anti-Asian racism or racism of any kind.” Musk has feuded with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) before, threatening to sue over its accounting of hate speech on his social media network.
The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, decried Musk’s endorsement of the antisemitic conspiracy. He wrote: “At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote antisemitic theories. #NeverIsNow.”
On Thursday morning, Musk continued on the same tear about the white race. He approved of a tweet reading: “Everyone is allowed to be proud of their race, except for white people, because we’ve been brainwashed into believing that our history was some how ‘worse’ than other races. This false narrative must die.”
Musk wrote: “Yeah, this is super messed up. Time for this nonsense to end and shame ANYONE who perpetuates these lies!”
The tweet provoked immediate and strong backlash both on X and off. Tweets condemning Musk’s reply as a “white supremacist conspiracy theory” poured in while antisemitic support for him erupted simultaneously. The Atlantic published an essay lambasting Musk, titled “Elon Musk’s Disturbing ‘Truth’”, and the watchdog publication MediaMatters headlined its story on the topic “Elon Musk lights his tiki torch”, in reference to the infamous 2017 march by white supremacists at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Late on Thursday, X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, posted a tweet that seemed to respond to the controversy and rebuke antisemitism, though she did not invoke her boss by name.
“X’s point of view has always been very clear that discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board – I think that’s something we can and should all agree on. When it comes to this platform – X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world – it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop,” she wrote.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s statements come at a time of rising antisemitic incidents in the US and across the world. The UK and Australia have reported double- and triple-digit increases in reports of antisemitic as well as Islamophobic harassment amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Musk’s racial politics have been trending in this direction for months. In October, he wrote in response to a tweet mourning the melting down of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee: “They absolutely want your extinction.” Replying to a tweet from @libsoftiktok, who he restored to X, which read: “Racism against white people is the only kind of discrimination that’s allowed,” Musk wrote last week: “It’s messed up and needs to stop.”
Since taking over Twitter in October 2022, Musk has restored controversial conservative accounts while simultaneously banning journalists and penalizing accounts critical of him. He has also taken time to attack Wikipedia. Since Musk’s reign began, X has been flailing as a business: advertisers are spending less, regulators are circling, staff is at less than 50% of what it used to be after huge layoffs and user numbers are down.
In a related development on Thursday, IBM said it had immediately suspended all advertising on X after a report found its ads were placed next to content promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. IBM has come under scrutiny for its historic links to the Nazi party during the second world war.
Media watchdog Media Matters said it found that corporate advertisements by companies including IBM, Apple, Oracle and Comcast’s Xfinity were being placed alongside antisemitic content.
“IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation,” IBM said in a statement to Reuters.
X said its system does not intentionally place brands “actively next to this kind of content”, and the content cited by Media Matters would no longer be able to make money off its posts.
Reuters contributed to this report