Elon Musk compares George Soros to Jewish supervillain Magneto

Elon Musk launched a series of attacks on George Soros overnight, tweeting that the Jewish-born investor and liberal philanthropist, who is often subject to virulent anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, hates humanity and “wants to erode the very fabric of civilization.”

Musk, who has overseen a rise in anti-Semitism and other hate speech on Twitter since he bought the social media platform last year, gave no reason to single out Soros. But he made his comments three days after Soros’ investment fund reported that it had sold all of its shares in Tesla, the electric car maker that Musk also runs.

And Musk appeared to specifically reference the 92-year-old Holocaust survivor’s background by comparing Soros to Magneto — a Jewish supervillain who “fights to help mutants replace humans as the world’s dominant species,” as Marvel’s official character description puts it.

“Soros reminds me of Magneto,” Musk wrote at 10 p.m. Monday, apropos of nothing. The tweet sparked a flood of responses comparing Soros to various symbols of evil, recalling long-standing conspiracy theories that paint him as a god-like billionaire Jew who uses his philanthropic foundations to flood Europe with refugees and corrupt American politics.

Leftist commentator Brian Krassenstein responded to Musk, pointing out that Magneto is a Holocaust survivor in Marvel lore, where the character manipulates magnetic fields to oppose (and occasionally aid) the heroes in the X-Men films and comics. “[Soros]also a Holocaust survivor, is attacked incessantly for his good intentions that some Americans believe are bad simply because they disagree with this political affiliation,” he wrote.

Musk responded to Krassenstein five minutes later: “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”

His tweets were condemned Tuesday morning by Jonathan Greenblatt, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, which has cataloged similar conspiracy theories that believe Soros wants to control the world.

“Soros is often held up by the far right, using anti-Semitic tropes, as the source of the world’s problems,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter. “Seeing Elon Musk, regardless of his intentions, feeding this segment — comparing him to a Jewish supervillain, and claiming Soros ‘hates humanity’ — is not only troubling, it’s dangerous: it will embolden extremists who are already creating anti-Jewish conspiracies and have sought to attack Soros and the Jewish community as a result.”

Musk, who has gutted Twitter’s media relations department, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Soros, who was forced into hiding as a Jewish teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary, is the focus of international hostility for his wealth, religious background, investments and Open Society Foundations, which spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting democratic institutions and liberal purposes.

Glenn Beck attacked Soros in a three-part Fox News series titled “The Puppet Master” in 2010. Donald Trump has accused him of meddling in American politics. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has spread lies that Soros turned against fellow Jews during World War II and collaborated with Nazis.

Musk, who has used his position to boost far-right personalities since buying Twitter for $44 billion last year, sounded much more ambivalent about Soros a few months ago, when his company was still investing in Tesla.

Asked in January by Ian Miles Cheong — a far-right commentator who has since called for Soros’ arrest — what questions Musk would ask the philanthropist, Musk replied: “Do you actually know where your money is going?”

In March, Musk jumped into a conversation with far-right Twitter user Catturd, who made a largely false claim that Soros donated $1 million to the New York district attorney.

“Soros figured out a smart arbitrage opportunity,” Musk told Catturd. Small political contests, he said, “have a much bigger impact per dollar spent than the big races, so it’s much easier to influence the outcome.”

In fact, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker found the claim highly misleading and wrote that it “plays into stereotypes of rich Jewish financiers secretly controlling events.”

Magneto was not Jewish when the character debuted in a 1963 cartoon, as a one-dimensional stock villain who wanted mutants to rule. Two decades later, Jewish Marvel writer Chris Claremont decided to flesh out Magneto’s backstory to make him a more well-rounded antagonist for the X-Men. He eventually landed on making Magneto a Holocaust survivor.

Originally called Max Eisenhardt (he later changed his name to Erik Magnus Lehnsherr), Magneto was held captive in the Auschwitz death camp, where the brutality of the Nazis sparked his lifelong quest to end human oppression of mutants like himself. Despite his misanthropic bent, Magneto occasionally shows signs of justice and leadership, blurring the line between hero and villain.

He was not immediately identified as Jewish in the 1980s Claremont comics told Vulture in 2019, because Marvel didn’t know how readers would react (religion isn’t exactly a major theme in the story). It wasn’t until the X-Men films of the early 2000s and the 2009 “Magneto: Testament” comic series that the mutant’s Jewishness was made canon.

While Magneto is, at least on the surface, an inhuman genius with supernatural powers who seeks to control the world, the character has generally been praised by critics for avoiding malevolent Jewish stereotypes. Avi Arad, the former director of Marvel Comics, told the Jerusalem Post (via Haaretz) in 2005 that the character drew inspiration from Zionist leaders Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Meir Kahane. Claremont said in an interview with Empire magazine that there are parallels between Magneto and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, a right-wing politician whose Likud party took over Israel’s government in the 1970s.

This article has been updated with more context about the character Magneto.

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