Another day, another Elon Musk controversy
A recent tweet by the tech entrepreneur has sparked widespread criticism and condemnation due to the sinister implications and dogwhistles buried within.
Musk was the latest in a long-long-long line of people to criticise Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, and his comparison between Soros and a megalomaniac Marvel supervillain has been viewed as not only very lazy but deeply problematic and antisemitic.
In a bizarre series of tweets, Musk compared the holocaust-survivor background of both Soros and X-Men nemesis Magneto, and argued a skin-deep strawman line that 'both hate humanity'.
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Journalist Brian Krassenstein called out Musk on this writing: "Fun fact: Magneto's experiences during the Holocaust as a survivor shaped his perspective as well as his depth and empathy. Soro, also a Holocaust survivor, gets attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this political affiliations."
Musk clapped back: "You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity."
Magneto has a disdain towards humanity (as a mutant in the comic books, he feels he is superior and that homo sapiens' time is up) - but in an attempt to use a fictional Jewish figure to attack a real one, Musk has been caught lacking.
Magneto isn't real (neither are the X-Men and superpowered mutants), and Musk's tweets read as an attempt to grasp the first Jewish villain he could find from a shelf to beat another Jewish person over the head with, by reflecting surface-level pop culture knowledge into a bowl of antisemitic hate.
Magneto, like Soros, survived the Holocaust (as a character). In the comics, he was not initially depicted as Jewish - but a backstory was added to fill out the character as comics stories became far more complex than their origins.
Magneto's goal as a villain is to end human oppression over mutants. However, Magneto is described as a fairly grey villain. He has led heroic teams, he blurs his own lines and contradicts himself. There's depth and room for additional context to be bolted onto the character as time goes on.
Musk's tweet towards Soros did not represent a fair or valid criticism of the billionaire - it is not only deeply hurtful, it appeared quickly and it is quite telling that it came only days after Soros's investment fund reported that it had sold all its stock in Tesla.
Tesla, of course, is run by Musk alongside Twitter.
There are plenty of fairways to criticise the actions of billionaires and their obvious financial influence on the world. Musk, Gates, Soros and Bezos alike.
However, reaching straight for racial and antisemetic tropes feeds a beast that is not so easily caged. Antisemitism, a form of prejudice against Jewish people, poses significant harm to individuals and communities.
It can manifest as verbal abuse, physical violence, and systemic discrimination. By employing antisemitic tropes or making comparisons that evoke harmful stereotypes, individuals contribute to a climate of hostility and bigotry.
Musk has indirectly overseen a rise in antisemitic language on Twitter. A study found that antisemitic language on Twitter doubled - and then some - after Musk's takeover of Twitter.
Not only that, but Musk's comments arrived around the same time as Douglas Murray's speech in the UK's National Conservative which observed that the rise of the Nazi party shouldn't hamper the growth of nationalism elsewhere just 'because Germany mucked up':
\u201cThere was nothing wrong with nationalism in Britain. It's just that there was something wrong with nationalism in Germany.\n\nI don't see why no one should be allowed to love their country because the Germans mucked up twice in a century.\n\n@DouglasKMurray at the #NatConUK gala\u201d— National Conservatism (@National Conservatism) 1684186013
The last week has seen a dismissal of Jewish suffering, and the use of Jewish identity in paper-thin arguments to back right-wing statements - Musk and Murray include. Such instances highlight the need for increased awareness regarding the consequences of antisemitic language. It is crucial for individuals to recognize the harm caused by perpetuating stereotypes and to actively combat all forms of prejudice.
Musk eventually apologized (sort of), but in considering both Musk and Murray's comments, it's perhaps worth some people spending some time reflecting on atrocities that have occurred in the past - and less time making lazy comments involving Marvel characters.
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