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The New York Times has described the Tesla factory in Fremont as a hotbed of racism, but its story misses the point completely.

Clean Transport

Racism At Tesla Factory? Say It Isn’t So, Joe!

The New York Times has described the Tesla factory in Fremont as a hotbed of racism, but its story misses the point completely.

The New York Times does seem to have it in for Tesla and Elon Musk. They constantly slam both for things that get nary a mention otherwise. Right now, the Grey Lady (journalism’s sobriquet for the stately Times) is featuring a story that reveals the ugly truth about the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. Workers there are subject to racism, the paper reveals!

New York Times and Tesla

According to the Times, it interviewed more than 2 dozen employees and former employees, all of whom claim to have suffered racial slurs and bigoted behavior from colleagues and supervisors. Three of them have filed suit against Tesla for racial discrimination.

Say it isn’t so — Tesla, the beacon of what the future of manufacturing will be, is besmirched with the taint of boorish behavior by some of its employees directed at other employees? CleanTechnica is often accused of being a Tesla fanboy site, but excuse us if we take this story — if it is one — and stand it on its head.

The story here is not racism at the Fremont factory. The story here is that America is a seething cauldron of racial hatred and prejudice. And the head cheerleader is Donald Trump, the man who has ridden fear and loathing of dark-skinned people all the way to the White House, the man who refers to nations with a majority of black citizens as “shithole countries,” the man whose “America First” slogan is an echo of similar tropes in American history predicated on white supremacist ideology.

Before you complain about how horrid Tesla is to some of its workers, perhaps the management of The Times should look internally to see if there is any similar behavior within its own ranks? As the famous aphorism found in Matthew Chapter 7, Verse 3 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Are we to infer that there is no similar behavior at The Times? Or at any other manufacturing facility in America? Or at any of the giant tech companies, like Apple, Google, and Facebook? What is the point of singling out Tesla for public shaming? Is it because it is such a disruptive influence and has annoyed so many entrenched organizations that it needs to be slapped down?

For its part, Tesla acknowledges that racist conduct sometimes occurs at its factory. It is no excuse, but it says the level of complaints is no more than at any similar company of its size. “Tesla opposes all forms of discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment, and we strive to provide a respectful work environment for all employees and do our best to prevent bad conduct,” the company said in a statement to The Verge. “What matters most at Tesla is our clear opposition to all forms of discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment. When we are notified that someone isn’t living up to these standards, we address it immediately, as should be expected of any good company.” Anyone who has watched a few Elon Musk interviews knows the captain is no fan of discrimination, bullying, or mean behavior in general.

This article in no way is an apology for bad behavior. It is an indictment of America, which in the past few years has been revealed as among the most racist cultures on the planet. Despite all the flowery protestations about it being the “shining city on hill,” America is little more than a plantation culture where white people reign supreme and black people are expected to know their place. It is a place where hatred of dark-skinned people is as American as apple pie.

Just last week, Mississippi voted a senator into power who spoke publicly about attending a “public hanging” and the trees at the state house were festooned with nooses hanging from their branches. The white supremacist candidate won. That is what a large portion of America is, and hurling accusations at Tesla is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the blatantly racist core at the heart of America.

The soul of America was best summarized by Lyndon Johnson when he said, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Years ago, Nina Simone, a black singer, wrote a song about racism in America entitled “Mississippi Goddam.” Things have changed but little since. Stories about racial slurs in Fremont do nothing to address America’s history of racial hatred. Rather the opposite — they pretend the problem is somehow confined to a small slice of the population and one company among many.

The New York Times story is an act of cowardice for which it should be ashamed. The story is not Tesla; it is America. New York Times, Goddam!

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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