Elon Musk tweets tantrum against ‘wacktivists’ after Tesla criticised for alleged racism and self-driving deaths

After Tesla was removed from the ESG Index, Mr Musk attacked ‘phony social justice warriors’ and claimed it was part of the ‘leftist agenda’

Adam Smith
Thursday 19 May 2022 17:06 BST

Elon Musk has lashed out on Twitter against a sustainability index after electric car company Tesla was removed from it.

It comes after allegations of workplace racism at the company, and a number of crashes that are being investigated by US officials using Tesla’s Autopilot service.

Mr Musk called the removal “wacktivism” in a tweet, following up with another jibe: “What I love most about wacktivists is their incredible sense of humor”.

In a blog post announcing the change, the S&P Dow Jones Indices, which maintains the sustainability-focused ESG Index, said that “two separate events centered around claims of racial discrimination and poor working conditions at Tesla’s Fremont factory, as well as its handling of the NHTSA investigation after multiple deaths and injuries were linked to its autopilot vehicles” were the cause of Tesla’s removal.

“Both of these events had a negative impact on the company’s S&P DJI ESG Score at the criteria level, and subsequently its overall score. While Tesla may be playing its part in taking fuel-powered cars off the road, it has fallen behind its peers when examined through a wider ESG lens.”

In February this year, the state of California sued Tesla over allegations of discrimination and harassment of Black employees at its San Francisco Bay area factory.

The suit was sparked by hundreds of worker complaints, said Kevin Kish, head of the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The department allegedly “found evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment.”

However, in a blog post before the filing, Tesla called the suit misguided and said the agency “has never once raised any concern” about its workplace practices following a three-year investigation.

The US government has also investigated 34 crashes in which Tesla’s Autopilot systems were either in use or suspected of operating since 2016. Of the 34, 28 involved Teslas, according to a NHTSA document released Wednesday.

Fifteen people died in the crashes that NHTSA is investigating, and at least 15 more were hurt. Of the deaths, 14 occurred in crashes involving Teslas, the documents say.

Mr Musk, in subsequent tweets, said that the move by S&P Dow Jones Indices is “insane”, and tweeted a meme claiming that the ESG score “determines how compliant your business is with the leftist agenda”.

In another, he said: “Exxon is rated top ten best in world for environment, social & governance (ESG) by S&P 500, while Tesla didn’t make the list! ESG is a scam. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors.”

His comments come after he announced that he was switching political allegiance from Democrat to Republican. “In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party. But they have become the party of division and hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican”, he tweeted.

Recently, news broke that the US Supreme Court is preparing to issue a ruling that could end decades of constitutional protections for abortion care and trigger a wave of laws making abortion illegal in roughly half the US.

“This is a crisis moment,” US Representative Barbara Lee told a crowd in Washington DC protesting the upcoming decision. “The radical Supreme Court justices and right-wing extremists are making it clear that they will not stop until a nationwide ban is enacted. But we are here to say loudly and clearly: Keep these bans off of our bodies.”

Tesla did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment before time of publication.

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