The New York Times recently published an article that declared that Tesla owners were struggling with the “fact that their cars may carry new connotations after Elon Musk tweeted about ‘taking the red pill,'” and surmises that this reference from The Matrix may have been taken by “the right” to promote racism and misogyny.
Tesla owners are grappling with the fact that their cars may carry new connotations after Elon Musk tweeted about taking “the red pill,” a reference to “The Matrix” that has been co-opted by the right and discussed in misogynistic and racist forumshttps://t.co/c8bqmUqpBN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 19, 2020
“A liberal status symbol now has a founder who is moving to the right,” the article states. The article calls into question Elon Musk’s political status following Ivanka Trump sharing Elon’s tweet referencing the classic movie. The movie’s co-director also didn’t like the fact that Ivanka seemed to make it political, and she took it out on both of Ivanka and Elon — on Twitter. Apparently, the words “red pill” are some type of code for the alt-right … in certain alt-right circles. This is often accompanied by a red rose emoji that represents the Democratic Socialists of America.
Upon researching this idea, I stumbled upon the Anti-Defamation League’s, website which had some more information about the pills and the extreme alt right. The website lists a variety of “online pills” which is a term meaning code words, and it claims that the red pill “generally refers to the GOP while the blue pill is aligned with the Democratic Party.” The webpage didn’t say anything about roses.
Since when did the ‘red pill’ become a political statement??
Back in the day, red and blue were gang colors.
Now they have been politicized to the point @elonmusk is presumed to be a conservative republican by many because of a Matrix reference involving the word ‘red’
— Johnnæ (@johnnaaaaaaaaaa) May 19, 2020
In The Matrix meme, for those who may have never seen the movies, the red pill represents the choice of learning an unpleasant truth and facing reality rather than living in an artificial world — which is totally Elon’s style, so this idea that Elon Musk is suddenly a member of the alt-right seems a bit of a stretch. However, Ivanka Trump retweeting him led to the sudden politicization of words, or increased it.
Politicization of America
In America, politics is one of the few topics that we typically agree not to discuss at the dinner table. The truth is, many are emotionally tied to their political views. These views have slowly separated into two main labels — red and blue, or right and left. Both sides have their extreme points. Today, the extreme left uses cancel culture to cancel out anyone who seems even remotely “right.” To their views, the right is all evil, anti-Semitic, uncompassionate people who enjoy showing off their guns and storming state capitols. This group also is against climate action and often thinks climate change is a hoax.
The left, on the other hand, is seen as baby-killing people who hate church and are all “immoral” for wanting LGBTQ, African-Americans, and other groups to have equal rights. To be fair, both sides have good and bad points. However, those points are quickly being obscured by the hatred of one another and the unwillingness to simply listen to the other side with an open heart and mind. I get it — you can’t really sit down with someone who wants to kill you because of your skin color — but those are the extremes.
And this division and hatred is often amplified by mainstream media, which feeds egos and promotes the idea of being right (as in correct/not wrong) instead of advocating for truth. This division has also devolved us into the thinking that if someone isn’t 100% in agreement with you, then that person is suddenly the enemy.
Politicization of Climate Change
The idea of caring for our planet should be a concern for all humans, but it isn’t. Once upon a time it was, but no longer. The current EPA under Donald Trump has really messed us up for years to come, which is often overlooked by his supporters because they believe he is trying to empower America. Trump’s goal, to them, is “America first,” which means jobs, especially fossil energy jobs.
I dream of a world where truth shapes people's politics, rather politics shaping what people think is true.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) May 20, 2020
Add into that mix the idea that climate change is a hoax and the constant disregard of scientists, and we have that point where an idea of protecting our world has suddenly become a political movement in which one side seeks to convince the other side to wake up and realize that destroying our planet is more important than money.
Climate change has gone from being a problem that we have to fix to being a tool to gain something, usually political favor.
Politicization of Elon Musk and Tesla
Tesla is a green energy company and many people who consider themselves liberals or on the left love the idea of electric cars. Driving without creating CO2 emissions used to be an idea that was science fiction, but today, it’s reality and Tesla has become more than just a car company, but also a tech company.
In its article, the New York Times called Tesla a “liberal status symbol” and said, “Owning a Tesla, the luxurious electric car, is a major liberal status symbol.” Of course, Tesla wouldn’t have been such a political statement without the politicization of climate change. If fighting climate change was something seen equally by both sides as doing the dishes or doing laundry, then there would be many products geared toward that market instead of the few that are.
I am … openly moderate
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 19, 2020
Regarding Elon Musk, he has stated that he is “openly a moderate,” which means that he is considered someone who avoids extreme views and major social change — he is in the center of the spectrum. He is “on the left” on some issues and “on the right” on others. While he didn’t have to share where he stood politically, he did, and many are grateful. Twitter user Pone Z Pyo says it best:
Elon promised us sustainability revolution. He did not promise us to be a democrat. If anything he considers himself a moderate. Once again, people are reading too much into tea leaves. If anything, he supports reason regardless of left or right and we should celebrate that.
— Pone Z Pyo (@phonezawphyo) May 19, 2020
Politicization of Coronavirus
In one of the most disturbing instances of extreme politicization, we have the coronavirus. While other countries are doing what they can to slow the spread, Americans are fighting over whether or not it’s even real. Despite the fact that we have thousands who have died from it, both sides have taken to politicalizing the virus.
I have seen many friends who lean toward the right side politically share memes and informative articles about how wearing masks are bad for you. Compounded on this is the idea that Bill Gates wants to track your every moment with a secret microchip that will be placed inside of COVID-19 vaccines. This sounds really crazy, but a lot of people believe it.
On the flip side, many of my fellow liberals believe that we should all stay home and that no amount of money is more important than the value of a human life. I agree with that — in fact, it was why I was upset with Elon’s “Free America” tweets. The idea that he would support the extreme seemed really disturbing — but once he explained that it should be done safely, I sighed in relief. No, Elon Musk didn’t go alt-right on us. However, I fear that he has been listening to some of the extreme right theories and hope that he gives the left side a listen too. I mean, if you’re going to listen to one side, it’s only fair to listen to the other so you can have a truthfully balanced approach and take on things.
While both sides have valid concerns, many on both sides refuse to listen to the other side because they are “wrong.” As a liberal, my heart hurts seeing others, while remaining uninformed on the facts, bash Elon Musk, someone who is not only a hero of mine but someone who is doing a lot of good for this planet and for the people on it. They really went after him over wanting to reopen Tesla’s Fremont factory and accused him of wanting to cause his employees harm. Yet, many remained silent when it came to other companies reopening.
Another reason that many hated Elon Musk for reopening Tesla is that workers who want to stay home will lose their unemployment status. These workers number in the millions in total — as in, millions of American workers were laid off due to the virus and had to face this choice of going back to work or staying home and losing their unemployment benefits. While many news reports covered this, many extreme leftists politicized this against Elon Musk when it should have been aimed at the government — it’s the way the law works, and those laws were made by people we voted into office. Push those politicians to do better by people who lost work during the pandemic. Don’t expect Tesla to stay closed forever so that workers don’t lose some government support.