If someone isn’t for us, are they really against us?
Elon Musk has more problems today than he did two years ago, and that’s saying something.
Two years ago, Musk began his battle against the forces of progressivism in America by refusing to shut his California Telsa factory down as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
Arguing that all his employees were essential, Musk fought to keep his factory open; he both won and lost.
The Tesla factory floor may have never closed down, but Elon Musk was through with California. He relocated, as so many others have, to Texas.
The left, however, is not that easy to escape.
Musk’s latest and perhaps greatest transgression, greater even than refusing to toe the Democratic Party line on COVID-19 mitigation measures or expressing support for a peaceful solution to the Russia/Ukraine conflict, has been Twitter.
First, by expressing interest in buying Twitter — “How dare he buy Twitter!” — then by casting doubts as to the number of fake accounts on Twitter and trying to back out— “How dare he not buy Twitter!” — Musk has drawn down the fury of the left.
In so doing, Elon Musk has fallen afoul of the powerful cultural gatekeepers of progressivism. Using a combination of online pressure campaigns and more direct action, progressives upset about Musk’s plan to restore free speech on the social media platform have instigated an advertiser boycott of Twitter.
It’s easy to see why.
“Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic,” Elon Musk charged in a November 7 tweet that was unlikely to cure celebrities and Twitter-famous Democrats of their newly minted, “Elon Musk Derangement Syndrome,” as Allysia Finley christened the phenomenon on November 6 for the Wall Street Journal.
Elon Musk also started airing a good bit of Twitter’s dirty laundry — including reports that Twitter employees were previously selling the coveted “blue checkmarks” under the table for $15,000 each.
Why is Elon Musk suddenly the most hated man on the left? In many ways, he has made himself a bigger target than Donald Trump.
Trump, while he was a New York City Democrat and Hollywood celebrity for the vast majority of his adult life, is considered by progressives to be one of “them”, an “other”. Not one of the select. Not a Democrat.
Elon Musk, on the other hand, is considered the worst type of betrayer: The traitor.
Consider the terrorist group ISIS.
ISIS didn’t last long and yet endures. It is gone forever; it will never die.
Disparate elements of the organization still exist, not least of which is the terror it still inspires. ISIS had a list of many enemies; people and entire nations it swore to stamp out utterly, and wipe from the face of the earth.
There are plenty of great questions about ISIS: From whence did the extremist group come? Where did it get so many terrible weapons of war?
A wise man once said it takes 20 years to learn what happened on a battlefield. It might take at least that long for the U.S. media to get curious — and brave — enough to answer those questions.
The answers range from shocking to outright appalling.
For instance, most of ISIS’ weapons of war came directly from…the United States. And Russia. ISIS obtained vast troves of weapons and military ordinance because all and sundry was abandoned during various failed military campaigns.
ISIS made all this only too clear. They had a website, after all, and a social media presence — for recruiting purposes, of course. One recruiting method consisted of listing all ISIS-owned military equipment and its original point of origin.
ISIS was also clear about who it most wanted to murder horribly and why.
The United States was high on the list, of course. As was the world’s only Jewish state Israel — anti-Semitism is one of ISIS’s core tenets.
But neither of those great enemies was considered by ISIS brass to be public enemy number one.
That terrific honor was reserved for…Iran’s then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Also topping the list of ISIS enemies, and for the same reason, were other extremist groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
They weren’t extreme enough.
Instead of allies, ISIS saw Ahmadinejad, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban as traitors to the cause.
Hating a sworn enemy is obvious, but that isn’t who we human beings generally reserve our bitterest ire for, is it?
Our greatest hatred is always reserved for The Judas; the betrayer who should have been a friend, who smiled and smiled and was a villain.
The scab, the Benedict Arnold, the Cain: We fear these archetypes most with good reason. Those closest can always hurt us the most. By comparison, a stranger, unknown and untrusted, to say nothing of an enemy, has trouble getting close.
Of course, Elon Musk isn’t the Taliban and the progressive left isn’t ISIS.
But that mentality — anyone who isn’t 100% for us is against us — is that of the totalitarian.
France had an interesting art film phase: Nouvelle Vague.
In essence, it entailed “rhetoric for rhetoric’s sake.”
Rhetoric for rhetoric’s sake means getting so caught up in the action as to forget, or cease to care, about the result. In its haste to consolidate power and shore-up support, the political left is flexing its rhetorical muscles, condemning Elon Musk and all his works in the strongest possible terms.
In so doing, progressives are losing sight of the bigger picture: Elon Musk has often been a great champion of the left — even lately — and might be again.
Liberals must be careful not to destroy would-be allies in their fight for a better world. When a cause is just, such totalitarianism just isn’t necessary.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)