Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has ignited a Twitter firestorm with his baseless attack on billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Musk accused Soros of hating humanity just days after the financier disclosed selling off a small stake in Tesla. While Musk’s comments do not explicitly mention Soros’ ethnicity, the dangerous rhetoric has drawn criticism for potentially fueling further attacks on Soros, who is a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Late on Monday, Musk took to Twitter to compare Soros to the X-Men villain Magneto, who, like Soros, is depicted as a survivor of the Holocaust in the comics. When a Twitter user defended Soros, highlighting his good intentions despite disagreements on his politics, Musk responded by stating, “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. The very fabric of civilization is being eroded by him. Soros hates humanity.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a civil rights group focused on combating antisemitism, condemned Musk’s comment. Greenblatt expressed concerns that Musk’s comparison, likening Soros to a Jewish supervillain, would embolden extremists who propagate anti-Jewish conspiracies and have previously targeted Soros and Jewish communities.
In response to criticism from Greenblatt, Musk tweets his own replies, defending his tweets about Soros and insisting that he has the right to express his views. He also explains that if he loses money on Tesla because of these tweets, so be it.
Musk has a history of posting inflammatory remarks and endorsing conspiracy theories on Twitter. Since Musk assumed control of the platform last year, Twitter has experienced a significant decline in advertising revenue. Last week, Musk announced that he would be replaced as Twitter’s CEO by NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino.
George Soros, 92, has long been a target of right-wing conspiracy theorists and antisemites. He is a prominent supporter of Democratic candidates and liberal causes. Soros is the founder and primary contributor to the Open Society Foundation, which advocates for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. This has drawn criticism from authoritarian regimes, such as that of Viktor Orban in Hungary, who is allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Attacks on Soros have increased alongside a broader rise in antisemitic incidents.
Musk’s controversial statements and management of Twitter have faced scrutiny. Critics argue that he allowed Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists to return to the platform as part of a mass unbanning of previously suspended accounts. Studies conducted by the ADL and the Center for Countering Digital Hate indicate that hate speech on Twitter has grown significantly under Musk’s leadership.
Despite the backlash, Musk remains an influential figure on Twitter, with nearly 140 million followers. His tweets often amplify right-wing tropes and unfounded conspiracy theories. While Soros’ investment in Tesla was relatively modest in his overall portfolio, Musk himself has sold off a substantial number of Tesla shares in recent months. Nevertheless, he remains Tesla’s largest shareholder by a considerable margin.