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Elon Musk wants to “FREE AMERICA.” Echoing sentiments driven by talking heads all across the conservative Twittersphere, the SpaceX and Tesla founder has been calling on the US government to loosen restrictions on social distancing and lockdowns to “reopen” the economy.
Musk’s tweet, which received over 64,000 likes, follows the tech mogul’s efforts to downplay COVID-19. He previously downplayed fears of the pandemic as “dumb” and continued to operate his Tesla factory in California—insisting it was an “essential” business in spite of the state’s orders to lock down non-essential businesses in its fight to curb the spread of the disease that has since claimed over 60,000 American lives. Musk has also linked to an article on the Wall Street Journal that argues against the effectiveness of lockdowns, and another piece that praised the Texas government for planning to reopen its businesses this Friday.
While many were on Musk’s side and echoed his views, many—including his own followers—accused Musk of using his platform irresponsibly.
But not everyone was onboard with Musk. BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac described Musk’s tweets as a “meltdown,” writing:
“A consistent thing about Elon Musk: If you stay up to a certain point every night, there's a very good chance you'll witness a meltdown on Twitter between midnight and 3 AM that will end up in the next day's headlines.”
Progressive radio host Dean Obeidallah shared a cynical take of Musk’s calls to reopen the economy.
Author John Pavlovitz noted that “[m]oney can’t buy humanity, apparently.”
Some pointed out that Musk’s calls for a reopening of the economy were driven by selfish motives, linking to a Forbes article that Musk’s attempts to bank in on Tesla shares were slowed down by the pandemic.
Others quoted Musk’s own 2017 tweet, in which he expressed his support for science over emotions.
Elon Musk has been accused of using the coronavirus outbreak to build a reputation for himself. After promising to deliver 1,000 ventilators to California hospitals, an investigation by the Sacramento Bee found that no hospitals in the state had received any equipment that he promised. Musk denied the accusation after CNN picked it up and insisted that his company had done its part.