Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis on Sunday refused to directly condemn Elon Musk for publicly endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory popular among White supremacists.
The Florida governor first told CNN’s Jake Tapper he did not see the comment, which Musk responded to on X Wednesday, but said Musk has had a “target on his back” ever since purchasing the platform.
The X post, which Tapper showed DeSantis, said: “Jewish communties (sic) have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” The post also referenced “hordes of minorities” flooding Western countries, a popular antisemitic conspiracy theory.
In response, Musk said: “You have said the actual truth.”
The antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews want to bring undocumented minority populations into Western countries to reduce White majorities in those nations has been espoused by online hate groups and echoed by Robert Bowers, the convicted killer of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. It was the deadliest attack against Jews in American history.
Tapper asked if antisemitism among the political right concerns DeSantis, to which DeSantis responded, “across the board.”
The Anti-Defamation League said last month that antisemitic incidents in the US increased 388% in the weeks following the Hamas attack in Israel on Oct. 7, according to preliminary data. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has also seen an uptick in reports following the attack, but it did not have numbers to release.
After Tapper pushed back on the characterization of “fringe,” considering Musk and other political figures on the right who have shared White supremacist tropes have large platforms, DeSantis stood by his position and continued to reference universities, rather than Musk.
“You’ve seen this become part of a left-wing movement, a very significant pro-Hamas movement. And it is backed by institutional power,” he said.
Pressed by Tapper again on Musk’s tweet, DeSantis maintained: “I have no idea what the context is.”
“I know Elon Musk, I’ve never seen him do anything. I think he’s a guy that believes in America. I’ve never seen him indulge in any of that. So it is surprising if that’s true. But I have not seen it. So I don’t sit there and pass judgment on the fly,” he said.
Musk’s embrace of the antisemitic post on the social media site he owns, formally known as Twitter, was met with near-immediate rebuke from prominent brands that subsequently paused advertising with X, including Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Comcast, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent of CNN.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, responding to Musk’s endorsement of the antisemitic post, told Tapper in a separate interview later Sunday, “I thought it was outrageous and dangerous.” He added that he and his Democratic colleagues will write to Musk this week to encourage him to renounce his claims.
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