Monday, December 12, 2022


I'm grateful to The Atlantic's Charlie Warzel for debunking the notion, advanced in a recent New York Times story by Jeremy Peters, that Elon Musk's political beliefs are difficult to comprehend. But I don't agree with the way Warzel characterizes Musk:
Elon Musk Is a Far-Right Activist

If there’s one tweet that will tell you everything you need to know about Elon Musk, it’s this one from early [yesterday] morning:
My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2022
In five words, Musk manages to mock transgender and nonbinary people, signal his disdain for public-health officials, and send up a flare to far-right shitposters and trolls.
I don't like Warzel's use of the term "far-right" here. Elon Musk isn't a far-right activist. He's a mainstream Republican activist.

You might argue that they're the same thing, and I'd find it hard to rebut you. But when mainstream journalists use the descriptor "far right" in contexts like these, they imply that the rhetoric and beliefs are common only on the fringes of conservatism, and suggest that a "normal" Republican Party exists in which the rhetoric and beliefs are considered abhorrent. But powerful Republican Party officials and officeholders agree with Musk, and no prominent Republican in good standing will condemn the call to criminalize Fauci or the contempt for trans and nonbinary people.

"Prosecute/Fauci"? Last year, the Republican Establishment's preferred 2024 presidential candidate sent a fundraising email with the headline "Fauci for Prison":

Yesterday, at least four sitting members of Congress quote-tweeted Musk approvingly, as did the GOP's 2022 candidate for secretary of state in Michigan:

And is contempt for trans and non-binary people a "far-right" phenomenon? Here's Jim Jordan, who'll be one of the most powerful figures in the House starting next year, railing against Democrats because he thought they were "banning 'gendered' pronouns." Here's Jordan again, this time at CPAC, saying, "You see last week they tried to cancel Kermit the Frog and Mr. Potato Head? They backed off Mr. Potato Head. I think he told them his preferred pronouns are he/him/his, right?" Here's Senator Ted Cruz telling a conference that his pronoun is "kiss my ass." Here's Josh Hawley in a Senate Armed Services Committee saying, "I'm curious as heck how not using he/she can help with lethality." Here's Senator Marsha Blackburn at Kentanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing asking Judge Jackson to define what a woman is.

This is the mainstream right.

Warzel writes:
But even as a far-right shitposter, Musk is hapless.... Musk is still seen as a dilettante by the inveterate shitposters and bigots. Over on 4chan, the far-right message board, Musk’s Fauci tweet barely merited discussion. “Elon is just being controversial to drive traffic to his website,” one poster mused.
If Musk tweeted this to impress far-right shitposters, that would be a problem. But he didn't. He tweeted it to impress mainstream Republicans. And it worked.

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