Comparing demagogic figures to Adolf Hitler, or to the Nazis more generally, has been an internet cliché for almost 30 years. So frequently have Nazi analogies been misused that invoking Godwin’s Law has become a default response to such hyperbole. In the words of Mike Godwin, the author and attorney who coined the term: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”
But as Godwin himself acknowledged after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, there are times when Nazi comparisons are perfectly apt: “By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I’m with you.”
Yesterday was one of those days: The wealthiest man in the world, Elon Musk, took to X (formerly Twitter) to respond to an apparent white nationalist user’s defense of the claim “Hitler was right” with the words “You have said the actual truth.”
Some may argue that this is not a fair framing of the exchange. Musk was not defending Hitler, they will say; he was merely defending an antisemite’s provocative response to a Jew who asked “the cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and posting ‘Hitler was right’” to “say it to our faces.”
Let’s take a closer look at what that apparent white nationalist (who has since made his X account private) said that earned Musk’s stamp of approval:
“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.
“I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit 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.”
The racist and antisemitic worldview expressed in this tweet is, quite literally, some Nazi shit.
In seemingly endorsing the claims that Jews “have been pushing [anti-white] hatred” and supporting “hordes of minorities… flooding their country” as “the actual truth,” Musk has signed onto an explicitly antisemitic version of the Great Replacement Theory—the idea that globalist elites, often Democrats supposedly on the payroll of George Soros, are demographically engineering white people out of existence through the intentional promotion of non-white immigration with the aim of “replacing” white people.
The 2017 Charlottesville Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us.” But it is arguably Tucker Carlson, who now works for Musk, who has done more than anyone to make the myth of white replacement a mainstream feature of American political discourse.
But it gets worse: Musk has now endorsed racist and antisemitic canards taken straight from the pages of Mein Kampf.
Compare the “actual truth” as understood by Musk to Hitler’s assertion that “It was and is the Jews who bring the Negro to the Rhine, always with the same concealed thought and the clear goal of destroying, by the bastardization which would necessarily set in, the white race which they hate.” There are differences in the historical and geopolitical details, of course, but the basic ideas remain the same: Jews hate white people and seek their destruction by importing people of other races.
As Yair Rosenberg observed in The Atlantic, these ideas motivated Robert Bowers’ 2018 mass murder of worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest act of antisemitic violence in U.S. history. Rosenberg also noted that Musk tried to walk his comment back, saying he was only talking about the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), but even that flailing attempt at “nuance” didn’t last long.
We must remember, however, that the antisemitic worldview that motivates such horrific violence is also a racist and often Islamophobic one, and the violence inflicted by its adherents is frequently visited upon non-Jews as well—whether by Hitler in Nazi Germany, the mass shooter Payton Gendron in Buffalo, New York, or Anders Breivik in Norway.
There have been many warning signs. In September, Musk replied to a tweet describing migrants arriving in Sicily as part of a “Soros-led invasion” by saying “The Soros organization appears to want nothing less than the destruction of western civilization.” Elad Nehorai sounded the alarm in June of this year, arguing that Musk is the most dangerous antisemite in America.
And then there’s the “heterodox centrists” and “intellectual dark web” types, who insist that X is better than ever now that Musk has “freed” it from the tyranny of basic content moderation, and go curiously silent whenever Musk dabbles in overt bigotry.
It’s probably time for all of us to, finally, stop providing free content to Musk’s platform. But it’s well past time to demand an answer to the question, “What the fuck is wrong with people still defending Elon Musk?”
The Daily Beast