America Magazine's Strange View of Elon Musk (2022)

When the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, bought Twitter, conservatives expressed hope, the mainstream media were apoplectic, and the staff ofAmerica Magazineoffered a roundtable discussionaddressing the question, “Should Catholics Be Part of Elon Musk’s Twitter?” The senior contributor was Associate Editor Jim McDermott, a Jesuit priest educated at Marquette, Harvard, Weston School of Theology, and UCLA. The others were Associate Editor Zak Davis, who holds a Loyola, Chicago theology degree, and Doug Girardot, an O’Hare Fellow atthe magazinewith a history degree from Boston College.

This essay will evaluate their contributions to the national discussion. But let’s begin by clarifying Elon Musk’s position on the matter of Twitter. Here are some statements he made at various times:

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” “By ‘free speech,’ I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.” “Truth Social (terrible name) exists because Twitter censored free speech.” “For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally.” “Twitter has tremendous potential—I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.” “Also I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”

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Clearly, Musk’s principal aim is to end Twitter’s favoring of liberal points of view and censoring of conservative ones. Simply said, he intends to make Twitter afair platformfor theopen expressionof ideas. With that understanding in mind, let’s examine and evaluate the views expressed byAmerica’sRoundtable. (Although their format was “give and take,” I will present the main statements of each contributor, followed by my comment. I have numbered the statements so that the references of my comments will be clear.)

Fr. McDermott:(1)“It felt like we won back a lot of sanity and some space for warmth and humor with the removal of Donald Trump from the site, and now it’s very possible that he and a number of other pretty ill-intentioned voices will be returning and doing a lot of scary and awful things. It looks like a return to a very sad state of affairs. . . .(2)[Musk’s] ‘hot take’ that content moderation is some kind of unjust restraint on free speech definitely could lead to some pretty bad stuff. . . . I don’t know how long I’ll be able to tolerate the site myself given how deeply problematic Musk is in so many ways . . .(3)Using Twitter has never before seemed to me like I was supporting businesses or people that are actively unjust or cruel. But now that seems to be precisely the situation.”

Comment:(1)So McDermott believes the removal of Trump and other “ill-intentioned” people was an act of “sanity,” their return will bring “a lot of scary and awful things,” and that will be a ”sad state of affairs.” He obviously does NOT believe that Twitter’s practice of censorship has violated the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. Thus he is evidently untroubled by, for example, the censoring of theNew York Post’swell documented exposure of the Hunter Biden scandal that, according to recent polls, changed the outcome of the 2020 election!(2)McDermott attributes to Musk the view that “content moderation” constitutes “unjust restraint on free speech,” rejects that view as wrong, and then brands Musk as “deeply problematic.” But “content moderation’ is not Musk’sterm—it isMcDermott’s. (Musk spoke of censorship, a every different thing.) It is hard to believe than McDermott’s Jesuit professors in logic and ethics did not cover the fact that putting one’s word’s in someone else’s mouth and then condemning him for having them there is both fallacious and immoral. Did McDermott forget those lessons, or was he merely hoping his readers never learned them?(3) This passage is subtly but clearly telling his Catholic audience that theyshould not support Musk’s version of Twitterbecause it will be“actively unjust and cruel.”However, Musk hasn’t even taken over Twitter yet, so McDermott must be judging him on his stated intentions, which are to do away with censorship, be politically neutral, and follow the Constitution’s view of free speech. And that is supposed to be “unjust and cruel”? Sorry, but thatdoesn’t make sense.

Zac Davis: (1) “For me, I think [the Musk purchase of Twitter] is emblematic of where our civic and cultural energy has gone in recent decades. An oligarch who made his money in tech and engineering deciding to buy a media conglomerate to try and solve moral and political issues is the end result of the gutting of the humanities in favor of [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]education.”(2)[Musk’s idea of eliminating] all the anonymous trolls with Latin usernames and crusader avatars, would actually make the platform better. But then there is another issue of Catholics who behave in ways that range from mean to abusive . . . Let’s say that Elon Musk does open the floodgates to free speech, and the platform changes dramatically, either from an onslaught of spam and misinformation or from abuse. . . .(3)I think we’re still in the middle of the “wild west” era of social media, and all of us need to come up with better social, legal and cultural frameworks for how to use it

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Comment:Davis’ contribution is less troubling than McDermott’s, but still falls short of being minimally helpful.(1)It seems odd for him to speak of an “oligarch” [Musk]buying a media platform “to try and solve moral and political issues,” and asking whether such a public square shouldbe owned by any private citizen, let alone the richest person in the world,” without mentioning that many other “oligarchs” preceded Musk in pursuing that cause, including Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Jack Dorsey, and Michael Bloomberg. Does Davis have the same concern about their ownership as about Musk’s? I don’t know because he doesn’t say.(2)Davis states that one of Musk’s changes will improve Twitter; that suggests he tried to be balanced in his assessment. But then he abandoned balance by referring to “Catholics who behave in ways that range from mean to abusive” and wondering what will happen if “Musk does open the floodgates to free speech, and the platform changes dramatically, either from an onslaught of spam and misinformation or from abuse.” News flash Mr. Davis: the onslaught of spam, misinformation, and abuse occurred long before Musk—indeed, it wasprecisely Twitter’s censorship of those they disagreed withthat created the problem Musk intends to solve.(3)In contrast to his previous statement,Davis’ statement about the present era is both accurate and well-stated.

Doug Girardot: “I’m not sure I totally buy into people’s fears that under its new ownership, Twitter is going to turn into some sort of hellscape where unpopular views are censored. Even besides this Twitter development, I think people of a certain persuasion tend to demonize Musk without knowing precisely why.”

Comment:This very measured and sensible statement probably was not intended to criticize Fr. McDermott, but it serves that function very well. Perhaps Girardot missed the irony of it—that the reference to “people of a certain persuasion” fits CNN devotees, WOKE narrative consumers, and apparently Fr. McDermott, more than conservatives.

There are additional ironies. One is that in the early 1990s acommittee of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithreportedly considered censoringAmerica magazinefor taking positions at odds with Rome. One might imagine the Jesuits would remember the stifling effect that censoring had on their intellectual activity and be more supportive of free speech for others.

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Yet another, even richer irony is that on October 18, 2004,America Magazinepublished a statementfrom its editors titled “The Catholic Mind” that lamented the decline of intellectuality. The following excerpts are relevant to the present matter:

“The activist intellectuals of mid-20th century attempted to bring their research to bear on public problems. They combined scholarly detachment with civic engagement . . . By contrast, today’s culture wars are ideologically driven. They are sophistic wars of opinion, indifferent to research and learning. They put a premium on cleverness and emotion, especially righteous anger.”

The 2004 editors went on to urge “Catholic institutions to nourish the life of the mind beyond a narrow school of thought,” but they added that “reviving American Catholicintellectual life will be an uphill struggle.” The current editors would do well to attempt a more positive role in that struggle.

Copyright © 2022 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved

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America Magazine's Strange View of Elon Musk (2)

Written by

Vincent Ryan Ruggiero

VINCENT RYAN RUGGIERO, M.A., is Professor of Humanities Emeritus, State University of New York, Delhi College. Prior to his twenty-nine year career in education, he was a social caseworker and an industrial engineer. The author of twenty-one books, his trade books include Warning: Nonsense Is Destroying America and The Practice of Loving Kindness. His textbooks include The Art of Thinking and Beyond Feelings, both in 10th editions and available in Chinese as well as English, Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues, and A Guide to Sociological Thinking. His latest book, Corrupted Culture: Rediscovering America's Enduring Principles, Values, and Common Sense, is available at Amazon and in bookstores. Professor Ruggiero is internationally recognized as one of the pioneers of the Critical Thinking movement in education. Earlier in his career, he published essays in a variety of magazines and journals, including America, Catholic Mind, The Sign, The Lamp, and Catholic World.

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FAQs

What ethnicity is Elon Musk? ›

Musk was born to a South African father and a Canadian mother. He displayed an early talent for computers and entrepreneurship.

What is Elon Musk's vision for the future? ›

Musk wants to colonize space as quickly as we can, just like Bostrom. Musk wants to create brain implants to enhance our intelligence, just like Bostrom. Musk seems to be concerned about less "intellectually gifted" people having too many children, just like Bostrom.

Why would Elon Musk want to buy Twitter? ›

In April, Elon Musk made an unsolicited bid worth more than $40 billion for the social network, saying he wanted to make Twitter a private company and allow people to speak more freely on the service.

When did Elon Musk get rich? ›

His stake in the business netted him $180 million when it was bought by eBay in 2009. In 2002, he founded SpaceX with an ambition to colonise Mars using affordable rockets. The following year, he ploughed $6 million into Tesla despite the company having not even produced a real car.

Is Elon Musk American citizen? ›

Elon Reeve Musk FRS (born June 28, 1971) is a South African-Canadian-American businessman. He was born in South Africa.
...
Elon Musk.
Elon Musk FRS
BornElon Reeve Musk June 28, 1971 Pretoria, South Africa
CitizenshipSouth Africa (1971–present) Canada (1989–present) United States (2002–present)
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What degree does Elon Musk have? ›

Elon Musk

What can we learn from Elon Musk? ›

Powerful Lessons you can Learn from Elon Musk
  • Be eccentric.
  • Connect ideas.
  • Follow your interests.
  • Learn constantly.
  • Assemble a great team.
  • Seek out criticism.
14 Jul 2022

What is Elon Musk's mission statement? ›

SpaceX's Mission Statement

To revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” SpaceX has a mission statement that is a vision and ambition perceived by its owner and CEO, Elon Musk.

What is Elon Musk's leadership style? ›

Elon Musk's leadership style, transformational leadership, focuses on creating real positive change in the world. This type of leader is action-oriented. Instead of sitting around and philosophizing about how to change the world, they outline and execute a strategy that makes their vision a reality.

Does Elon own PayPal? ›

The startup was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. The same year, Musk co-founded online bank X.com, which merged with Confinity in 2000 to form PayPal. eBay bought PayPal in 2002, for $1.5 billion.
...
Elon Musk.
Elon Musk FRS
FamilyMusk family
AwardsList of honors and awards
Signature
10 more rows

Why is Elon Musk so rich? ›

Musk is a South Africa-born billionaire entrepreneur who serves as CEO of Tesla, a popular electric vehicle manufacturer, and SpaceX. Musk made an early fortune founding PayPal in 1999. EBay bought the company in 2002 for $1.5 billion, and Musk made $180 million from the deal, Time Magazine reported.

Is Elon Musk the richest man in the world? ›

Key facts about Elon Musk

Estimated net worth of $254 billion as of August 2022, making him the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. He is nearly $90 billion ahead of the man in second place, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Leads four ventures: Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.

Who is No 1 richest person in the world? ›

In 2018, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was ranked at the top for the first time and became the first centibillionaire included in the ranking, surpassing Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who had topped the list 18 of the previous 24 years. In 2022, after topping the list for four years, Bezos was surpassed by Elon Musk.

How many countries is Elon Musk richer than? ›

Musk's net worth exceeds the GDPs of Colombia, FInland. Pakistan, Chile and Portugal. Musk is clearly in uncharted territory when it comes to wealth. He is the richest person ever, according to Forbes.

Where did Elon Musk get all of his money? ›

Early on, Elon Musk became a self-made multa-millionaire through his shares in Zip2, the first company he founded. After a merger, his second company, X.com, eventually became well-known as PayPal. Tesla, Inc. and its space transportation and electric car ventures grew his wealth further.

Why did Elon Musk choose America? ›

He chose to settle in the United States because, “It is where great things are possible. I am nauseatingly pro-American.” He enrolled to pursue a PhD in energy physics at Stanford but dropped out after just two days to start his first company, called Zip2, with his brother in 1995.

Can you get 3 citizenships? ›

Can you have triple citizenship? Yes, you may hold citizenship in three countries. The same rules apply as for dual citizenship — not every country allows for multiple citizenships, so you would need to check whether your country of origin permits triple citizenship.

When did Musk become a US citizen? ›

Musk took the oath of American citizenship at the Pomona Fairplex in 2002 with 3,500 other immigrants. The ceremony, he said, was “actually very moving.”

How many hours does Elon Musk study? ›

At the most practical level, what we can learn from Elon Musk is the modern polymath formula: Put in the time (at least five hours per week)

Is Elon Musk a dropout? ›

At the age of 24, Musk started a doctoral program in physics at Stanford in 1995 but dropped out after two days.

What does Elon Musk drive? ›

Elon Musk has confessed that his Tesla Model S is the car he drives the most. That shouldn't be a surprise, given that the Model S is the comfiest and most accommodating vehicle in the Tesla fleet.

Why Elon Musk is a good role model? ›

He is an inspiration to entrepreneurs, a visionary and innovative person determined to achieve his goals despite the obstacles in his way to positively impact the world.

How many hours a day does Elon Musk read? ›

Most successful people credit reading, in some capacity, as a factor in their success. A young Elon Musk read for 10 hours each day before growing up to become Tesla CEO.

How fast does Elon Musk read? ›

Speed Reading — Elon Musk - Level 3 — 100 wpm. Every December, TIME magazine announces its Person of the Year.

What is Tesla's motto? ›

Slogan. Tesla's slogan is: To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport and electric technology.

What is Tesla's philosophy? ›

Tesla's vision is to “create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles,” while its mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” Tesla used a transitional ...

How much companies does Elon Musk own? ›

Musk runs Tesla and SpaceX alongside two smaller start-ups, Neuralink and The Boring Company. From building rockets and brain chips to digging tunnels, here's what all of Musk's companies do.

Who is greatest leader in the world? ›

Alexander, The Great (356 BC – 323 BC)

Alexander the Great, often known as the “Man Who Conquered the World,” is widely regarded as the greatest military leader of all time. His leadership style, great presence of mind, battles, and vision is still being praised in the books of history.

What is Elon Musk's personality type? ›

As an INTJ, Elon tends to be confident, analytical, and ambitious. Elon is likely an independent thinker focused on solving the world's problems.

How does Elon Musk learn so fast? ›

Learning transfer

According to his brother, Musk would read through two books per day in various disciplines. If you, like the average person, read one book a month, that means Musk would read 60 times as many books as you.

Is Elon Musk a German? ›

Elon is of mostly English descent, along with Afrikaner (largely French Huguenot, Dutch, German, and Belgian), Scottish, and German. His name comes from his maternal great-grandfather John Elon Haldeman, originally of Illinois.

What languages does Elon Musk speak? ›

Elon Musk speaks 2 languages to varying levels. Elon Musk speaks English and Afrikaans. English is his first language as he was born to English-speaking parents and went to English-speaking schools.

Who is Elon Musk wife? ›

Elon Musk

Is Errol musk South African? ›

Elon Musk was born in 1971, to Errol and Maye, a Canadian model and dietitian who grew up in South Africa. He left South Africa at the height of apartheid to avoid the unpopular army draft.

Did Elon grow up rich? ›

Was Musk really born into a rich family? The billionaire spills the truth. Agencies Musk also only had a few thousand dollars when he kick started his first company.

Where did musk get his money? ›

Early on, Elon Musk became a self-made multa-millionaire through his shares in Zip2, the first company he founded. After a merger, his second company, X.com, eventually became well-known as PayPal. Tesla, Inc. and its space transportation and electric car ventures grew his wealth further.

Why is Elon Musk so rich? ›

Musk is a South Africa-born billionaire entrepreneur who serves as CEO of Tesla, a popular electric vehicle manufacturer, and SpaceX. Musk made an early fortune founding PayPal in 1999. EBay bought the company in 2002 for $1.5 billion, and Musk made $180 million from the deal, Time Magazine reported.

Who is SpaceX owned by? ›

SpaceX was formed by entrepreneur Elon Musk in the hopes of revolutionizing the aerospace industry and making affordable spaceflight a reality. The company entered the arena with the Falcon 1 rocket, a two-stage liquid-fueled craft designed to send small satellites into orbit.

Which programming language did Elon Musk learn first? ›

Elon started coding at a very young age. He taught himself BASIC at the very young age of 10, and that too in the days before the internet. At the age of 12, he created the video game BLASTER, sold the source code to a PC magazine for $500, and had it published.

Who spoke the most languages? ›

The record, though, probably belongs to Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859, who was said to know 200 languages, and capable of speaking 100. Read more: What happens in our brain when we learn languages?

How many girlfriends did Elon Musk have? ›

His first wife was author Justine Wilson with whom he has six children. Musk married again in 2010 to English actress Talulah Riley. The couple later divorced, then remarried, but ended up divorcing again in 2016. This list of Elon Musk's girlfriends includes Cameron Diaz, Amber Heard, and Talulah Riley.

Is Elon Musk the richest man in the world? ›

Key facts about Elon Musk

Estimated net worth of $254 billion as of August 2022, making him the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. He is nearly $90 billion ahead of the man in second place, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Leads four ventures: Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.

Is Elon Musk a scientist? ›

Elon graduated in 1994 and moved to California. He held two summer internships in Silicon Valley before starting a PhD in Applied Physics and Materials Science at Stanford. But Musk never completed his PhD. In fact, he quit after two days to crack on with saving the world and everything.

How much money did Elon Musk parents give him? ›

In 1995, Errol gave Elon and his brother, Kimbal, $28,000 to start their first software company, Zip2. “I had a terrible upbringing ,” Elon says .

Did Elon Musk dad have a baby with step daughter? ›

Elon Musk's dad has reportedly fathered a second child with his stepdaughter, who is 41 years his junior, he revealed in a new interview. Errol Musk, 76, told The Sun on Wednesday that he had a daughter with 35-year-old Jana Bezuidenhout in 2019.

Does Elon Musk's family own an emerald mine? ›

Jeff Bezos, who famously started Amazon in his garage, was “funded by a quarter-million dollar investment from his parents.” And Musk, according to the US politician and professor, comes from a family that owned an emerald mine in Apartheid South Africa.

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