Elon Musk’s comments on efforts by United Airlines and Boeing to diversify their workforces have drawn swift criticism from major civil rights organizations.
Musk claimed, without evidence, that the efforts of those airlines to hire nonwhite pilots and factory workers have made air travel less safe.
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, called Musk’s statements “abhorrent and pathetic.” Morial pointed out that Tesla, where Musk is CEO, is facing a lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for alleged abuse of Black employees, including racial slurs and nooses found in the workplace.
“Musk’s company not only refused to investigate complaints or take any steps to end the abuse, it viciously retaliated against employees who complained or opposed the abuse,” Morial told NBC News, citing allegations from the suit. “The only thing anyone needs to hear from Musk about diversity in the workplace is an apology,” he said.
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson responded to Musk on X, stating that the real danger comes from Musk’s own social media site, accusing it of providing a platform for hate speech and white supremacist conspiracy theories. Johnson emphasized the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (commonly referred to as DEI) for cultivating a more inclusive society.
“Reminder to @elonmusk: providing a home for the proliferation of hate speech and white supremacist conspiracy theories kills people. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion cultivate a more inclusive society,” Johnson wrote.
“They are not the same. We are not the same,” he added.
Musk’s comments on airline safety came after a panel blew off a Boeing jet while in flight. Musk began discussing the topic on X in response to a user who speculated that the IQ scores of United Airlines pilots from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were somehow lower than the average IQ of Air Force pilots.
He criticized programs promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, suggesting that it would take a plane crash with hundreds of casualties to change such policies.
“Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety? That is actually happening,” Musk wrote.
It’s important to note that commercial aviation is the safest it has ever been, with a record low number of accidents and fatalities in 2023, according to Dutch air-safety group To70. However, near-collisions at US airports remain a source of concern, reports NBC News.
According to the news outlet, neither United nor Boeing have commented on Musk’s claims.