Elon Musk All but Endorses the Great Replacement Conspiracy Theory

Elon Musk, an immigrant from South Africa, kicked off 2024 with a slew of tweets attacking the Biden administration over immigration numbers and advancing the dubious argument that the president welcomes those who enter the country illegally, viewing them as “future Dem voters.”

Since the end of December, Musk has left a graph pinned to the top of his profile on X (formerly Twitter) that claims to show how more migrants are now arriving at the southern border than there are babies being born to American mothers. “Almost no one seems to be aware of the immense size and lightning growth of this issue,” he wrote in his post. But the data he’s quoting, as the Washington Post reported, is misleading: the number of monthly migrant encounters at the border is always higher than U.S. births, and besides, many of those migrants are turned away before entry, quickly expelled or sent to detention.

While it’s true that migration into the U.S. has reached record numbers of late, creating large encampments and straining the support services of sanctuary cities, Musk’s choice to focus on this disingenuous framing — migration somehow overtaking domestic birth rates — puts him in alignment with the racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.

This notion, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a political advocacy group that combats extremism, holds that the national “identities” of Western nations “are under threat due to increasing immigrant populations.” Related narratives concern fears of declining birth rates among whites (Musk has warned of “population collapse” if people don’t start having more babies, though demographers have dismissed this likelihood), which in tandem with fears of non-white immigration have allowed far-right extremists to paint a false picture of unfolding “white genocide” (Musk has also dabbled in this conspiracy theory).

All told, then, the Tesla CEO and X owner has long been receptive to racist, far-right talking points alleging some erosion of Western white identity. In the past few days, however, he has embraced them more fully, to the point of seeing an orchestrated plot. On Thursday, he took to X to agree with Geert Wilders, a Dutch political leader notorious for harsh rhetoric against immigrants and Muslims, that “a collapse of our own culture and Western values due to open borders” and “an uncontrollable amount of non-western asylum seekers” was the “biggest problem we face today.” He also evidently accepted Wilders’ claim that “weak politicians advocating cultural relativism” shared in the blame for this imagined issue.

Hours later, Musk made his apparent dissatisfaction with politicians more explicit, accusing the Biden administration (without evidence) of “actively facilitating illegal immigration.” When asked by an X user to explain why the White House would do this, Musk alleged that they “view [illegal immigrants] as future Dem voters.” The statement stood in marked contrast to the reality that undocumented immigrants cannot and do not vote in U.S. elections, and, moreover, have no opportunity to apply for citizenship and voting rights after coming into the country through unauthorized channels.

Musk later repeated the line that Biden was “facilitating illegal immigration” and, for good measure, predicted that members of non-governmental organizations he likewise accused of ushering migrants in illegally would “go to prison.”

Musk even indulged one of his favorite right-wing influencers, who has been posting prolifically about the NGOs and airlines being “complicit” in a surge of immigration. “Seems like something very big is being hidden from the public,” he mused in reply to one of her tweets on the subject. Amid all his railing against migration over the southern border, however, Musk raged that it is “madness” to cap the number of H1-B visas for foreign workers with higher education and specialized skills. Musk originally came to the U.S. on an H1-B visa, and so his takeaway appeared to be: we need more immigrants like him, fewer desperate asylum seekers from predominantly non-white regions.

For all his forays into antisemitism, Musk has not yet said anything like “Jews will not replace us,” as white supremacists chanted at the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, directly placing the blame for the so-called Great Replacement on Jewish people. Nor has he been so openly racist as the manifestoes of the murderers who perpetrated mass shootings in recent years from Christchurch, New Zealand to El Paso, Texas and Buffalo, New York, all of which cited belief in some version of the Great Replacement and “white genocide,” the authors going on to target non-white victims in their killing sprees.

Nevertheless, Musk’s views on immigration and birth rates clearly echo the illogic that gives rise to such hateful ideology and its violent consequences. He needn’t use the words “Great Replacement” to amplify the racist assumptions at the core of the radicalizing concept. And where it comes to blowing these kinds of dogwhistles, it looks like we’re in for a new year of the same old Elon.