Dear Mr Musk
You’re off on an exciting quest — the acquisition of Twitter — to facilitate free speech in our polarized and often hostile world.
That you have embarked on this journey speaks of your adventurous spirit.
Thank you for that.
I have some concerns about the likelihood that you can make progress on the matter.
Having the enthusiasm and energy for the task is an essential ingredient but a broad non judgmental mind is equally important.
It worries me that you have praised China. You and Tesla have benefitted enormously from their hosting you but, in praising them, you slide over the profound negative impact the Chinese government is having on their people.
They are a repressive system that severely restricts free speech and monitors closely the activities of their citizens.
To call China anything other than a dictatorship is fooling ourselves.
When free speech is restricted as it is in China, the Chinese people are devalued. This is the same people who have been rooting for Putin and his troops as they have invaded Ukraine, bombing and killing thousands of people, while destroying their homes, hospitals, schools and infrastructure.
It is from devalued minds that such groundless praise emanates.
The China leadership speaks of having ‘no limits’ in their friendship with Putin, i.e. Putin may do whatever and they’re right there behind him.
Yet you praised them.
You did, even though their own atrocities on the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province were well known. And though you knew of this, your company opened a showroom in the province.
I am sure business is very good but I doubt you have the moral clarity to be a sound arbiter in the delicate matter of deciding what is acceptable and what is not as concerns free speech.
Extremes in politics, whether on the right or the left, are positions that have run out of arguments and thus choose to embrace violence, with their devastating consequences. These factions don’t want to talk for they fear their views may not hold. The results can be devastating, as in the assault on the Capitol on January the 6th. And in Myanmar, did the military want to talk to the opposition which had won the elections by a landslide before they chose to stage a coup and kill thousands of demonstrators? No.
As you start up on the effort to build a platform to facilitate free speech, modifying some algorithms may seem an expedient way to fix the problem, but changing attitudes requires much more than that. It requires reaching out to hardened human beings and patiently searching for what has shaped their hostility to the rest of us.
Your new venture may prove profitable, but it is unlikely to make a difference in strongly held positions. For that to happen the human touch is needed. And leaders with the courage to apply it.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.