On Sunday, Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted a four-word message that made conservatives jubilant. Musk had defied the coronavirus lockdown orders in Alameda County, Calif., opening his plant and announcing he would move much of his company to freedom-loving Texas. Yet his message on Sunday seemed to confirm his support for freedom over socialism.
“Take the red pill,” Musk tweeted, with a rose emoji. His tweet went viral, with 89,000 “retweets” and more than 400,000 “likes.”
Take the red pill 🌹
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2020
Conservatives cheered the message as a sign that Musk had sided with conservatives and reopening the economy over Democrats and their increasing support for technocratic limitations on free markets.
“Love to see it,” tweeted Kyle Kashuv, the Parkland shooting survivor who supports the Second Amendment.
Love to see it
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) May 17, 2020
Ryan Fournier, founder and co-chairman of Students for Trump, celebrated Musk’s tweet.
RED PILLED! 👏🏻
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) May 17, 2020
Scott Presler, a gay avid pro-Trump Republican famous for running efforts to clean up cities like Baltimore, offered to help Elon Musk register to vote. “Done,” he said, regarding taking the “red pill.”
“If anyone needs to register to vote, I’m here to help.”
If anyone needs to register to vote, I’m here to help.
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) May 17, 2020
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“Taken,” Ivanka Trump replied.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 17, 2020
“I love that your conservatism is coming out! Don’t be afraid! Join us and be a champion for conservative beliefs and policies,” Errol Webber, a U.S. House candidate in California’s 37th congressional district and a member of the Legacy Republican Alliance, responded.
I love that your conservatism is coming out! Don’t be afraid! Join us and be a champion for conservative beliefs and policies.
— Errol Webber For Congress (CA-37) (@ErrolWebber) May 17, 2020
Errol’s support for Musk taking the “red pill” may come as a surprise to some Democrats who associate the term “red-pilled” with … white supremacy, what else?
Max Berger, a Jewish Democrat who co-founded IfNotNow and avidly supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the 2020 Democratic primary, insisted that Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump were “publicly embracing white nationalism.”
“Among fascist activists ‘red-pilling’ means converting someone to fascist, racist and anti-Semitic beliefs,” Berger tweeted, citing the online investigations website BellingCat. “Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump are openly talking about moving along that spectrum. The GOP is becoming a fascist party.”
"Among fascist activists “red-pilling” means converting someone to fascist, racist and anti-Semitic beliefs."
Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump are openly talking about moving along that spectrum.
The GOP is becoming a fascist party. https://t.co/MBDDDM2NLk
— Max Berger (@maxberger) May 17, 2020
BellingCat rightly identifies the source of the term “red-pilling,” but then draws an unwarranted conclusion about it. “The term originates with ‘The Matrix,’ a popular 1999 film. The protagonist is offered the choice between a red pill, which will open his eyes to the reality of a machine-dominated world, and a blue pill, which will return him to ignorance and safety.”
Yet the association with “fascism” is largely a liberal smear. While some radical online communities use the term “red-pilling” to suggest support for white nationalism, it appears Musk, Ivanka Trump, Scott Presler, and black Republican Errol Webber associate it with a generally more conservative outlook — supporting businesses against restrictive coronavirus orders during the pandemic, for instance. Musk likely meant to identify himself as becoming more conservative, without any alleged nod toward “fascism” or white nationalism.
As PJ Media’s Stephen Green noted, Musk has the financial security to say “no” to anyone he wants — he has “F-U money” — but he also has the character to stand against tyranny in this crucial time. “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk tweeted last week.
Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
THAT‘s leadership. Yes, Musk is flouting the lockdown orders, but he’s also risking his own neck to keep his business open — and preferring that it be his neck on the chopping block. This has nothing to do with racism or “fascism.” Musk believes in the good his business can do, and he won’t take these lockdown orders lying down.
“What Musk did? That’s leadership. That’s character. That’s the guts to protect your dreams — not to mention your employees’ livelihoods — from unaccountable political hacks with an agenda,” Green wrote.
He also included an email Elon Musk sent to his people at Tesla:
Just wanted to send you a note of appreciation for working hard to make Tesla successful. It is so cool seeing the factory come back to life and you are making it happen!!
An honest day’s work spent building products or providing services of use to others is extremely honorable. I have vastly more respect for someone who takes pride in doing a good job, whatever the profession, than some rich or famous person who does nothing useful.
If this is what taking the red pill looks like, let’s hope more and more Americans follow Neo’s path in The Matrix. As Democrats work to take advantage of the coronavirus to push their plans for a government takeover of the economy, Elon Musk’s decision seems more important than ever.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.