On Friday, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order prohibiting nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This move, which he stated on Saturday is “working out very nicely,” bars 134,000,000 people from entering the United States for fear of terrorism. The countries included in the executive order are Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Legal visa holders have been detained since the order’s signing.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter on Saturday night to speak out against the ban in his characteristically understated fashion. Musk tweeted that the ban “is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.”
Musk, who became a member of the new president’s economic advisory board in December and has met with the president several times thus far in Trump’s presidency, also said that many people will be affected by the ban who don’t deserve to be.
Musk’s words may not ring out as a decisive criticism of the president’s policy, but this is also not the first time he’s expressed concern about Trump. In an interview with CNBC right before the election in November, Musk said that Trump “doesn’t seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States.” This tweet wasn’t exactly a battle cry, but it is emblematic of Musk’s habit of responding in a measured way.
Take, for another example, his tweet from October in response to Sarah Jeong’s Motherboard story about the lack of gender diversity in Musk’s Twitter feed. He seems to be referring to Donald Trump, but the reference is subtle, and he doesn’t tag Trump in the tweet. So again, it seems pretty clear that Musk has been critical of Trump for awhile now, but he’s been consistently measured in how he expresses it.
When taken in context with his other statements on Trump, Musk’s latest should come as no surprise. Classic Elon! And while the tech billionaire reached out to his nearly seven million followers with this message, one that is explicitly critical of Trump’s policy, his diplomatic phrasing received mixed responses.
Some took issue with his message, suggesting that Musk was downplaying the severity of the situation or even becoming complicit in injustice by not speaking up more strongly.
And while Musk received a fair amount of criticism for his message, some praised him for speaking up at all, urging others to recognize that it could be unwise for him to become an enemy of the Trump administration.
So while some have taken issue with the way Musk chose to speak about the president, this tweet is consistent with his previous statements about Trump: critical but cautious.