Elon Musk, Bill Maher, George Washington, and the “Woke Mind Virus”

The multi-billionaire CEO and investor uses the perfect example of woke extremism

Brian Tubbs
4 min readApr 29


George Washington-image generated via MidJourney 5

In a wide-ranging conversation on HBO’s “Real Time,” comedian Bill Maher and billionaire investor and business magnate Elon Musk talked about technology, resource distribution, history, free speech, cancel culture, and “the woke mind virus.”

Both men agreed that woke radicalism was hurting democracy and society. When Maher asked Musk for his thoughts on the origins of the “woke mind virus” (a term Musk coined to describe woke radicalism), Musk responded that “it’s been a long time brewing” and “been going on for a while.”

Musk pointed to education (especially colleges and universities, but even high school) as the seedbed for woke radicalism. As an example, he cited a friend who has daughters in high school in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When his friend asked his daughters what they learned in school about the first few American presidents, the only president his daughters could name was George Washington. This friend then asked his daughters what they know about Washington and the only thing they could cite was that he was a slave owner.

Musk summed up the anecdote by saying that, when it comes to someone like George Washington, “maybe you should know more than that.”

Maher agreed that’s a great example of the “woke mind virus” and added that he too has drawn intense condemnation for praising Washington as a great president.

But Washington did own enslaved persons!

I can hear the woke observers screaming already.

Yes, he did. But as Maher pointed out, slavery was “practiced all over the world, forever, since the beginning of time.” Too many people divorce Washington from his times and assume that he should have the same moral awareness as a 21st-century woke twenty-something with an iPhone and full access to Google, ChatGPT, and Ibram X. Kendi.

I’m not defending moral relativism. I’m simply pointing to the reality of human limitations. Moral truth isn’t relative, but a person’s relationship to the truth and understanding of the truth most certainly…



Brian Tubbs

Writes about Personal Growth, Leadership, Religion, History, Reading, Writing, Public Speaking, Games, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and more. ✍️📚