The White House has condemned Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and owner of the social media site X formerly known as Twitter, for promoting a “hideous” anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on his platform.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, White House spokesman Andrew Bates criticised Musk for calling an anti-Jewish tweet, which accused Jews of undermining Western civilisation through support for immigration, “the actual truth”.
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“We condemn this abhorrent promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” Bates said.
Musk ignited a firestorm of criticism when he praised a post on X, echoing the belief, common among white nationalists, that white people in Western countries are being “replaced” with an influx of immigrants from countries in the global south.
The conspiracy theory that Jews are responsible for facilitating this “replacement” through support for immigration and resettling refugees is the same belief that motivated a far-right gunman who stormed a synagogue in the city of Pittsburgh and killed 11 worshipers.
That attack, which took place in October 2018, was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history.
“It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of anti-Semitism in American history,” Bates said.
It is not the first time that Musk has embraced rhetoric about immigration that critics say mirrors that used by the far right.
In September, Musk said Germany’s practice of rescuing refugees at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean and bringing them to Europe had “invasion vibes”, using a term commonly used to portray migrants as a hostile force intent on taking over a country rather than people seeking refuge.
Musk has expressed little regret over the recent controversy.
On Thursday, the X owner liked a post from a popular account stating that Musk had come under attack for having “the audacity to criticize progressive Jewish organizations for their anti-white policies” by critics who ignore “actual anti-Semitic politicians and groups”.
“Bullseye!!” Musk replied.
Advertisers are fleeing X over concerns about their content showing up next to pro-Nazi posts and hate speech on the site in general, The Associated Press news agency reported.
IBM said this week that it stopped advertising on X after a report said its ads were appearing alongside material praising Nazis, in a new setback as the platform tries to win back big brands and their ad revenue.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
Liberal advocacy group Media Matters said in a report on Thursday that advertisements from Apple, Oracle, NBCUniversal’s Bravo network and Comcast were also placed next to anti-Semitic material on X, according to The AP.