In Defense Of Elon Musk

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On any given day, Elon Musk might be the hero or the villain.

Call it the duality of Musk – part of the reason he confounds both supporters and critics alike with achievements that amaze and comments that appall.

– Tim Higgins, “Does Musk’s Good Outweigh His Bad?” [SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED], WSJ 4/1

Prior to acquiring Twitter (now X), Elon Musk was one of the most beloved public figures around. He built two great companies – Tesla and SpaceX (among others) – from the ground up and was widely perceived as the most brilliant entrepreneur in the world – Silicon Valley’s heir apparent to Steve Jobs.

Since his acquisition of Twitter (now X), however, opinions have changed and Musk has become a polarizing figure. That’s because he freely expresses his own independent, nonconformist political and cultural views on the platform to his 180 million – and growing – followers. And that makes him a threat to the cultural establishment. The Left can’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t think like them – especially someone with the kind of influence Musk has.

The contempt on the Left for Musk was evident in the recent interview he did with Don Lemon. Lemon clearly had no interest in any of Musk’s massively successful business ventures or engaging in a debate with him about political and cultural issues. He was only interested in painting Musk as a bad guy with out of bounds political views. Even associates of Musk’s like Chris Anderson have expressed disapproval:

You won the admiration of countless millions around the world by opening up new possibilities for a genuinely exciting future. Many of those millions, I’m pretty certain, feel heartbroken and betrayed by your latest moves.

X, February 24

When you are juggling as many things and addressing as many issues as Elon is, you are bound to make some mistakes – even with a mind as brilliant as his. But it’s clear to me at least that he’s not coming from a bad place. In fact, I believe Elon is doing his best to use his influence to make the world a better place. It just happens that the views he holds on political and cultural issues are unpalatable to our cultural elites. Is it surprising that someone as independent minded as Elon would hold views outside of the mainstream? Why are those on the Left allowed to express their radical views with impunity while Elon receives so much blowback? I don’t agree with everything Elon says either. But why would you want to silence one of the most brilliant minds on the planet?

A healthy culture encourages a diversity of ideas and open debate. The greatest exponent for the marketplace of ideas was the philosopher John Stuart Mill in On Liberty (1859). Mill argued that if you only know your side of an issue, you don’t know anything. Only by engaging with the variety of credible perspectives on an issue can you understand and address it rationally and constructively. You might not like what Elon Musk says but the proper response is to show why he’s wrong, not to try to silence him. The United States of America was founded on this principle. It’s called The First Amendment.

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