Elon Musk smears Haitian migrants with 'cannibal' claims amid crisis

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As Haiti faces an utmost political and societal situation amid a activity of aggravated violence, tech billionaire Elon Musk and right-wing pundits online are weaponizing unverified claims of cannibalism coming retired of nan conflict to beforehand a governmental schedule connected immigration.

Musk and blimpish influencers person dispersed nan connection to millions, smearing Haitian migrants arsenic cannibals arsenic they endure heavy uncertainty astir nan early of their state and family members still there. 

The claims are getting tens of millions of views connected nan societal media level X, wherever false aliases misleading accusation has spread since Musk bought nan app and slashed contented moderation. Many of nan group spreading nan sensational claims are premium subscribers connected X, meaning their contented can make them money done advertizing sales. 

The accusations of wide cannibalism are based connected what experts said was a apt intimidation maneuver from prime pack members: In immoderate videos, nan astir salient examples being astatine slightest 2 years old, alleged members of convulsive gangs successful Haiti look to wound into quality flesh. Experts said these videos are apt portion of propaganda campaigns designed to scare rivals and terrorize section Haitians alternatively than a reflection of communal aliases normalized behavior. One erstwhile equipped group went by nan name “Cannibal Army.”

Ian Miles Cheong, a right-wing commentator, helped to footwear disconnected nan frenzy past week connected X, writing that location were “cannibal gangs successful Haiti who abduct and eat people.” 

“Reminder that these group are now illegally entering nan US en masse,” he continued, making nary favoritism betwixt nan astir notorious Haitian pack members and those trying to fly them. He offered nary grounds to support nan assertion that cannibals were entering nan U.S. en masse. 

Cheong defended his posts successful consequence to questions from NBC News, citing 1 video appearing to show personification eating portion of a limb and noting nan sanction of nan “Cannibal Army” gang. 

Another high-profile pundit, right-wing contented creator Tim Pool, cited nan unverified allegations of Haitian cannibalism arsenic impervious that erstwhile President Donald Trump was justified successful opposing migration from Haiti. Trump referred to Haiti and African nations arsenic “s---hole countries” during a gathering successful 2018, NBC News reported. Pool did not respond to a petition for remark aliases further evidence. 

The activity of cannibalism-related societal media posts is insulting to Haitians and Haitian Americans, said Chris Nestor, a moderator of nan r/Haiti connection committee connected Reddit and a lawyer successful Washington, D.C., whose parents were Haitian immigrants. 

“A full organization is getting blamed for what immoderate psycho pack members are doing,” Nestor said successful a telephone interview. “It is racist. It is dehumanizing.” 

Nestor, who’s besides a U.S. Army reservist, said that nan cruelty of nan Haitian equipped groups, if anything, bolsters nan lawsuit for accepting Haitian refugees, who he said are innocent. 

The mendacious claims are spreading while Haiti is successful nan grip of a existent emergency. Armed groups that had been fighting each different have now formed an confederation against nan government, attacking constabulary stations, airports and prisons — from which they’ve freed thousands of inmates. 

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is stepping down and hasn’t been capable to return to nan state aft walking abroad. Haiti’s elected president was assassinated 2 years ago. 

Killing, hunger and displacement are widespread, according to nan U.N. Dead bodies are often near to decompose successful nan Caribbean power aliases other burned because there’s nary 1 to region nan corpses, The Washington Post reported Saturday from nan capital, Port-au-Prince. 

The cruelty of Haitian pack leaders is not successful dispute, nor is nan wide sidesplitting successful nan state during a yearslong governmental crisis, but nan mendacious claims astir wide cannibalism spell overmuch further successful trying to overgarment nan full Caribbean federation arsenic barbarous. 

The State Department has not received immoderate reliable reports regarding cannibalism successful Haiti, a spokesperson said Tuesday. Doctors Without Borders said they besides had seen nary grounds of cannibalism successful nan country, and Human Rights Watch said it had nary accusation connected nan subject. 

Marlene Daut, a Yale University professor of French and African diaspora studies, said that American and European powers began spreading baseless tales of cannibalism successful Haiti astir nan clip nan country’s slaves overthrew French colonizers and declared independency successful 1804. The effect has been to picture Haiti arsenic irredeemable. 

“It is very disturbing that Elon Musk would repetition these absurdities that do, indeed, person a agelong history,” she wrote successful an email. 

“After nan Haitian Revolution, nan slaving powers of nan Atlantic World (namely, nan United States, France, Great Britain) published seemingly endless depictions of nan Haitian revolutionaries arsenic ruthless killers,” she wrote. 

The Haitian gyration that culminated successful 1804 was nan astir successful enslaved revolt successful modern history. It made Haiti nan 2nd independent federation successful nan Western Hemisphere aft nan United States and nan first majority-Black federation successful nan Americas. 

Musk, nan CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has tweeted astir alleged Haitian cannibalism respective times since Saturday night. 

“Civilization is fragile,” he posted successful consequence to 1 personification who was discussing a pack cannibalism video. 

Musk shared a video from far-right commentator Matt Walsh astir “cannibal hordes” of Haitians perchance migrating to nan U.S., and arsenic of precocious Tuesday it had received much than 10 cardinal views. Musk has besides boosted immoderate of Cheong’s posts astir alleged Haitian cannibalism pinch replies and likes. Representatives for Musk and Walsh did not respond to requests for comment. 

Musk’s prime of what to talk online tin person a wide impact. He has 1 of nan largest megaphones connected societal media, pinch 176.1 cardinal followers connected X, and, arsenic 1 of nan wealthiest group successful nan world, he meets often pinch heads of authorities and different governmental leaders including Trump.