The largely white protesters who oppose social distancing measures to protect the public from COVID-19 are like Rosa Parks, who waged a historic battle for racial equality, right-wing economic commentator and White House adviser Stephen Moore repeatedly insisted Friday.
“I call these people modern-day Rosa Parks. They are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties,” Moore told The Washington Post, in one of at least three instances of this astonishing comparison.
He also told CBS News: “It’s interesting to me that the right has become more the Rosa Parks of the world than the left is.” He said in a YouTube video quoted by The New York Times: “We need to be the Rosa Parks here, and protest against these government injustices.”
Moore is a member of President Donald Trump’s back-to-work council and part of a coalition of conservative leaders called “Save Our Country,” working against business shutdowns and stay-at-home measures aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19. He dropped out of consideration to serve on the Federal Reserve Board last year amid concerns about his qualifications and mounting opposition to his controversial comments about gender and race. He once quipped that Trump’s first act as president would be to kick a Black family (the Obamas) out of public housing (the White House), according to The Atlantic.
Critics were furious that Moore equated protests against health safety measures to the fight against racial injustice sparked by a black activist icon, who was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger 65 years ago.
Moore’s astounding claim was part of a new onslaught against Democratic-led states fueled by the Trump campaign.
The largest protest, in Michigan on Wednesday, was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which is also known as Michigan Trump Republicans, according to state incorporation papers, the Post reported. The group’s leaders include longtime GOP insiders, according to the newspaper.
The Michigan Freedom Fund, which heavily promoted the Michigan protest, has been linked to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
A goal of the organizing group was to target Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has been repeatedly attacked by Trump for “complaining” about the lack of federal aid to battle COVID-19 in her state. Whitmer has been rumored to be under consideration as a potential running mate for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Swing state Michigan is critical for Trump in November. He won the state by fewer than 11,000 votes last time around.
Columbia University historian Nicole Hemmer, author of book “Messengers of the Right” on the right-wing media, told the Post that the GOP focus on the “personal freedom” fight against health measures “almost seems like an excuse for getting out and rallying against politicians they oppose.”
Trump tweeted an incendiary command to his followers Friday to “LIBERATE” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia — all states with Democratic governors. He also ominously urged his supporters to fight for their gun rights in Virginia.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) accused the president of inciting “armed rebellion.” He “sent this tweet a day after his supporters showed up with assault weapons at state capitols. He knows what he’s doing,” Murphy tweeted.
Health experts have warned that too hasty a return to normalcy could cause COVID-19 cases — and deaths ― to skyrocket.
- Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
- What happens if we end social distancing too soon?
- What you need to know about face masks right now
- How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
- Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
- Everything you need to know about coronavirus and grief
- The HuffPost guide to working from home
- What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.