I checked Twitter briefly last night before going to sleep. Bit of a mistake. I saw something I did not like and it caused me to spend some time feeling uncomfortable as I was trying to sleep.
I’m talking about Elon Musk suddenly aligning fully with the “Freedom” protesters.
Let’s backtrack a bit in case this gets read at some future date.
We Are In A Pandemic
It’s 2020, we’re in the middle of a pandemic courtesy of the COVID19 virus. In the US, things aren’t going great. The US has more deaths than any country. We’re all under some degree of “stay-at-home” orders from various authorities. According to experts this is the only way to keep the number of cases low enough to not overwhelm the healthcare system until we come up with a vaccine or a cure. It could also give them time to gain enough of an understanding of the virus to know how to tame it with a less blunt hammer than “everybody stay home”.
The economy is taking a huge hit, that’s undeniable, and people would like to work. I don’t envy those in charge. There are a lot of unknowns, research is hastily published with contradictory results, and consequences of getting it wrong can be dire.
These are tough times, but most of the country seems to agree that we need to do the right thing to prevent deaths of those who are vulnerable: the old, those with other medical conditions, and of course healthcare workers.
In the midst of this debate some people have decided that the right course of action is to flaunt all public orders, all health recommendations, and even all logic by going out onto the streets without masks, and sometimes with guns. In some cases, medical professionals have showed up to counter-protest, setting up for news photographers to capture some painful imagery: angry people, decked out to go to war, yelling at nurses and doctors.
Do I need to type an argument defending the role and value of healthcare workers during a pandemic? I hope this is a low point in American culture and politics, because it’s just painful to watch.
All these protesters rallied around a call for freedom. It’s usually written in caps (“FREEDOM”) because they’re yelling in anger, possibly at a nurse. They were encouraged by our Dear Leader, always the promoter of divisive causes.
So that’s the context.
Back To Elon
I’m a big fan of SpaceX and Tesla. Both companies have done so much to upend their respective industries. These successes pull at my heart strings as an aerospace engineer and environmentally conscious Californian (we own a Tesla and love it). Unlike some people I can’t imagine these companies would be as successful (and in the case of SpaceX, even exist) if the man at the top was not Elon Musk.
Elon gets a lot of crap for his attempts to help when the world is rallying around a cause. In most cases I think he’s genuinely trying to do good.
So last night as I took a last look at Twitter I saw this gut punch of a tweet:
“FREE AMERICA NOW” – @ElonMusk
I imagine this wild cry into the night by a man who owns many factories has something to do with his personal finances.
Most of the time I feel Ok brushing off his more unsavory tweets. I know he’s a flawed character, there is ample evidence of that. I don’t defend his BS, and I don’t make excuses. He’s a dude with lots of capabilities and plenty of flaws too. When tweets come, I know sometimes I’ll have to shake my head or sigh.
This one just stings.
This was day 2 of the #100DaysToOffload challenge.