This month, Elon Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, claiming the league’s denunciation of A lot of advertising revenue. The Anti-Defamation League called Musk’s threats “dangerous and extremely irresponsible.” This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to California to meet with Musk to discuss artificial intelligence, but their other highly anticipated topic was anti-Semitism. Netanyahu asked Musk to “do our utmost to stop anti-Semitism.” Referring to SpaceX and his hopes for a mission to Mars, Musk responded that he favors anything that “ultimately leads us to become a space-faring civilization,” and that, with hate hampering that mission, “Obviously, I’m against anti-Semitism. “
This all unfolds as Walter Isaacson’s new Musk biography is released. Musk’s family history is relevant to this controversy, but, as I noted in my review, Isaacson only briefly discusses Musk’s grandfather, J.N. Haldeman, in the book, describing him as a risk-taker. home and dismissed his political views as “weird.” ” In fact, Haldeman was a pro-apartheid, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who blamed Jewish financiers for much of the world’s problems that plagued him.
Elon Musk is not responsible for the political views of his grandfather, who died when Musk was three years old. But Haldeman’s legacy sheds light on the role of social media: The reason most people don’t know about Musk’s grandfather’s political writings is that social media didn’t exist during his lifetime, so the writings of people like him didn’t Not amplified. it. In fact, they are unlikely to be widely circulated and are now quite rare. Nonetheless, they are not difficult to find, and unfortunately Isaacson neither cites nor mentions them.
Musk said he acquired Twitter to stop the “woke virus” from spreading online. His grandfather wrote his pamphlet, sounding the alarm against what he called “mind control” on radio and television, “an unconditional propaganda war against white people.”
Haldeman was born in Minnesota in 1902 but grew up primarily in Saskatchewan, Canada. A brave pilot and sometimes cowboy, he also trained and worked as a chiropractor. In the 1830s, he joined the quasi-fascist technocratic movement, whose supporters believed that scientists and engineers rather than the people should rule. He became a leader of the movement in Canada and was imprisoned when the movement was briefly banned, after which he became national chairman of Social Credit, a then-notoriously anti-Semitic political party. In the 1840s, he ran for office under the party’s banner, but failed. In 1950, two years after apartheid began in South Africa, his family moved to Pretoria, where he became a passionate defender of the regime.
Before the Internet age, writings by political extremists were often privately published and in relatively small quantities. An angry man writing a memo about an invisible world government might produce some mimeographs or carbon copies, but the chances of it ending up in a library, cataloged, and preserved are slim. Presumably most of Haldeman’s documents, if not destroyed, are still in the hands of his family. But some of his work survives, including in the extraordinary Activism Collection at the Michigan State University Library.
In 2017, the collection acquired two of Haldeman’s pamphlets as part of an anonymous donor’s trove, which has grown to 19,000 copies of right-wing propaganda and conspiracy literature. One of Haldeman’s pamphlets, The International Plot to Create a World Dictatorship and the Threat to South Africa, is dated May 1960. Timing is important. In February 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan delivered his famous “Winds of Change” speech in the South African Parliament, opposing apartheid and urging acceptance of the independence movement: “The winds of change are blowing across the continent, and, Whether we like it or not, this growth in national consciousness is a political fact.” In March, South African police opened fire on thousands of black South Africans protesting outside Sharpeville police station, killing 69 people, including children. , nearly 200 people were injured. The killings were captured on television and reported around the world. Nelson Mandela was one of eighteen thousand people arrested and imprisoned in the ensuing protests and state of emergency. Haldeman’s pamphlet defended white rule against an “international conspiracy” against it.
“Every day the brainwashers repeat and emphasize what they want us to believe,” Haldeman warned in a forty-two-page pamphlet from May 1960. “For example, ‘Indigenous people are mistreated’, ‘Underpaid’, ‘Vulnerable groups’, ‘Development alone is wrong’, ‘Apartheid is not Christian’.” Daily newspapers, magazines, commercial radio newscasters, biographies All instill this into the public consciousness and subconscious. (“Biscopes” here means movies.) “Those who know that 99 percent of them are untrue will repeat these lies with emphasis and emotion,” Haldeman writes.
Haldeman denounced many of the dark forces he saw as propagating these ideas: Jewish bankers, Jewish intellectuals, Jewish-run charitable foundations, communists, black leaders, and anyone who supported the overthrow of colonial rule in Africa. “Historical facts show that the white man has always developed the country in which he lives for the benefit of all concerned,” he wrote, peddling apartheid propaganda. “The black Africans have from the earliest times been closely connected with civilization. But they themselves have nothing Nothing was built, nothing was discovered, not even wheels.”
In a second pamphlet, “The International Health Conspiracy,” held by Michigan State University, Haldeman blamed “collectivist-internationalist” conspiracies “from JFK to Kenyatta” on “centralized medical programs,” including including national health insurance and various pharmaceuticals (including fluoride in water, another conspiracy), all of which he considered “anti-Christian intrusions on human liberty.” He writes that if some people aren’t shocked by all this, it’s because of the mind control. “When Christians identify with this, it is the result of concentrated, deliberate brainwashing by an international conspiracy.” Accepting state health care is a way for the conspirators to allow “black or colored political puppets” to “control responsible white people.” . He warned that cabals control universities, medical schools and even textbooks. “The Cabal considers any medical intervention, as long as it is large-scale, to be an ideal procedure.” On top of that, “world government promoters have always supported mass vaccination programs.”
In addition to the two pamphlets, earlier this month a rare book dealer sold a book called ” Survive (“Adults Only”) He believed it was Haldeman’s work. (The author’s name appears on the back cover, the dealer reported.) In an issue published after January 1962, the author described the growing independence movements in African countries as “the world goes crazy“The whole of the so-called independent states of Africa was in complete disarray,” he wrote. “The population was reduced to the point of starvation and cannibalism, approaching the situation before the arrival of the white man. ” He described Mau Mau as a ritual that required initiates to “suck the dismembered penises of other unfortunate Mau Mau victims.” He condemned Israel’s “consistent vote against South Africa at the United Nations.” But he explained that, regardless, the United Nations Rife with communist spies.
Haldeman probably typed his pamphlet on his own typewriter. He may have produced dozens, or hundreds, but not more. He might have sent them through the mail or distributed them at political rallies, church meetings, or men’s groups. In any case, they were read by a small number of South Africans in and around Pretoria, and probably by like-minded people further afield. Then they almost disappeared. But if Haldeman were writing today, he’d likely be spreading his thoughts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, 4chan, and more. Algorithms will feed them to thousands or even millions of people. He will find an audience. He will become bolder. He’ll find a bigger audience. He will become bolder. Elon Musk’s grandfather’s political views are not Musk’s responsibility. But what would happen if these rants were posted on X today, literally on his doorstep. ❖