As Elon Musk sues Californian authorities for stopping a Tesla factory from reopening, he has found a somewhat novel way of dealing with his critics – dismissing them with short Russian insults.
The target of Musk’s Cyrillic ire is Robert Reich, an economist and labor secretary under the Clinton administration. A well-known proponent of fairer distribution of wealth, Reich shared a story about the Tesla CEO’s plans for legal action in the Golden State with the comment: “Elon Musk threatens to take away people’s jobs unless he’s allowed to risk their health. Capitalism at its worst.”
Elon Musk threatens to take away people’s jobs unless he’s allowed to risk their health. Capitalism at its worst. https://t.co/FaivGcCLNi
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) May 9, 2020
The billionaire entrepreneur was quick to pounce, using the language of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. He called Reich an “идиот,” which means “idiot” in Russian, then corrected himself, saying he was meant to brand the academic a “скучный идиот,” or “boring idiot.”
Meant to say скучный идиот
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 10, 2020
The electric car manufacturer has filed a suit against Alameda county, seeking to have its 10,000-job factory in Fremont reopened. Musk called the local health chief “ignorant” for keeping Covid-19 restrictions in place in the county.
Musk’s command of Russian – at least when on Twitter – is well known. In the past, he would occasionally shoot a Russian phrase or two, and judging by the correct use of idioms, it goes beyond simple autotranslation.
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Meanwhile the eccentric businessman’s name found a place in Russian meme culture. When sharing an impractical or bizarre lifehack online, one would say: “Как тебе такое, Илон Маск?” It translates as “How do you like that, Elon Musk?” and is meant as a self-satirical comment on Russian ingenuity.
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