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OPINION: See the full picture before bashing Elon Musk

Tesla chief and eccentric billionaire Elon Musk has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. His involvement with the Thai cave rescue effort has been a topic of debate, and many interwoven allegations rose over the last week. Was Musk’s commitment just a PR stunt? Did his ‘expensive toy’ render any value to rescue operations? Did he bash the rescuers? Beyond the morals and the narratives, let’s look at the whole story before taking aim at the SpaceX head.

While many media outlets reported in parts, the entire plot was missed in the course of the whole incident and its aftermath. So let’s just analyze each of these aspects in the best way possible – but this time with context, as it should have been in the first place.

A. Musk was asked to help

While the billionaire took the blame for a plethora of reasons, many assumed that Elon Musk took it upon himself to offer help. However, it seems that is not the case.

Take this tweet for example:

Here Elon is asked why he has not solved a border-control situation when there are elected officials and experts who are trying to figure it out. Is this Elon Musk’s job? No. Did he get bashed for not doing it? Yes.

The person who tweeted this expects the billionaire who handles three-to-four major firms to take free time to expressively solve issues – one that includes national security in this case.

Now, the obvious question is, then why did Musk take up the Thai rescue issue.

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The kids in Thailand went missing on June 23. When Musk got involved, it was at least a week old and major national news. And here’s a tweet when he was asked to. On July the 3rd.

Elon Musk, in his character of responding to requests for help on Twitter, dutifully replied the next morning. And when he started talking about it, many others started listening. He started a public discourse on it, but this time hinting that the best engineering minds that work for him are put to good use. He opens the platform for ideas, and assigns a team to work on the practical aspect of it. Pro bono.

B. The ‘expensive toy’ was not useless

Social media armchair activists were quick to attack Musk when he unveiled plans for a mini-submarine to help rescue efforts. Somehow, the critics seem to have forgotten that caves and maneuvering them are part of Musk’s domain with many of his engineers working under the banner of The Boring Company.

https://twitter.com/NarayananVI/status/1016638903707578368

However, Narongsak Osotthanakorn, who was transitioning out as the provincial governor, said on BBC: “Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it doesn’t fit with our mission to go in the cave.”

It was not that Musk’s design was useless. It’s that the device did not fit into their plan – a different one that did not involve outside help from the billionaire. It seemed more like the mini-sub came in too late to be part of the rescue efforts.

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However, the Thai Navy was more than happy for the tech, with Musk even loaning his engineers to tutor them how to use the device for future ops.

C. The ‘pedo’ comment that Musk allegedly used to refer to the rescuers

Yes, Musk loses his cool almost every time. Remember the last earnings call, after which the Tesla CEO bashed analysts? But he gives credit where it’s due.

Here, he tweeted, not once, not twice, but thrice in support of the Thai rescue team – even mentioning the generator and pump teams later on.

Now, about Elon losing his cool. A few years ago, Vern Unsworth, a retired British expat living in Chiang Rai was exploring the same cave system the boys went missing. This helped him predict where they were, helping rescue efforts. He also aided in bringing in experts in cave diving for the rescue.

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However, he went on record to simply bash Musk’s efforts. Why he did it, was still a mystery.

Naturally, Musk lost it.

Musk Tweet

With his knowledge of Chiang Rai, where Unsworth lives, being alleged as a place for sex tourism, trafficking and child prostitution in general, the Tesla chief factored that in his rather crass and generalized bashing. While this is no defense for his words, it wasn’t random. But they need to be condemned.

However, the whole story needs to be told. There might be more, but the active culture for bashing Musk and gaining clicks from it prevails, drowning out most of the balance.

At the end of the day, Musk worked on a backup plan. Yes, it did not get implemented. But did he deliver? You can now figure the answer to that one on your own.

DISCLAIMER: The contents in this opinion piece represent the view of the author alone. AlphaStreet is not liable or responsible for the views, opinions and indications represented in this article.

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