One tweet says it all.
If there’s one tweet that will tell you everything you need to know about Elon Musk, it’s this one from early this morning:
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. The tweet is a cruel and senseless play on pronouns that also invokes the right’s fury toward Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, for what they believe is a government overreach in public-health policy throughout the pandemic and an obfuscation of the coronavirus’s origins. (Fauci, for his part, has said he would cooperate with any possible investigations and has nothing to hide.)
Beyond its stark cruelty, this tweet is incredibly thirsty. As right-wing troll memes go, it is Dad-level, 4chan–Clark Griswold stuff, which is to say it’s desperate engagement bait in the hopes of attracting kudos from the only influencers who give Musk the time of day anymore: right-wing shock jocks. But that is the proper company for the billionaire, because whether or not he wants to admit it, Musk is actively aiding the far right’s political project. He is a right-wing activist.
Currently, Musk’s politics are a subject of debate in the press. On Saturday, The New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters attempted to offer a nuanced portrait of the Twitter owner’s ideologies, arguing that Musk “continues to defy easy political categorization.” But Peters’ laundry list of Musk’s recent lib-trolling and “woke” scolding—such as Musk’s November recommendation to his millions of followers to vote Republican—undermines the very thesis of the article. The nuance Peters is looking for does not exist: Musk’s actions and associations make a clear case that he is a right-wing reactionary.