Stephen Moore, a member of President Trump’s council to reopen the U.S. economy, likened demonstrators protesting coronavirus mitigation efforts to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Mr. Moore, a conservative economist recently named to the newly launched task force, faced harsh criticism after he compared the protesters to Parks in an interview out Friday.
“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties,” Mr. Moore said about the demonstrators, according to the report.
Mr. Moore made the remarks as restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, come under fire from right-wing activists who have responded by holding protests in defiance of stay-at-home orders enacted in most states and contrary to social distancing practices encouraged by public health officials.
Governors for a vast majority of states have imposed the restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 700,000 people in the U.S. and killed over 30,000.
Critics of those restrictions have since organized protests held in several states, and similar events have been scheduled to take place across the country in the coming weeks.
Mr. Moore drawing parallels between the protesters to Parks, who famously helped spark the civil rights movement 65 years earlier by refusing to give up a bus seat in racially segregated Alabama, prompted an outcry on social media afterward.
Bill Kristol, a conservative commentator frequently critical of Mr. Trump, said on Twitter that the comparison was “at once strikingly stupid and deeply offensive.” Gregg Gonsalves, a noted epidemiologist and assistant professor at Yale, tweeted that Mr. Moore “is a dangerous charlatan and fool.”
“This is a great time, gentlemen and ladies, for civil disobedience. We need to be the Rosa Parks here and protest against these government injustices,” Mr. Moore said on the Freedom on Tap show.
Mr. Trump on Tuesday named Mr. Moore to what he has called his “Opening the Country” council, which is separate from the White House Coronavirus Task Force guiding his administration’s health response to the pandemic.
More recently, Mr. Trump sympathized with protesters rallying against the mitigation efforts during a White House press briefing Friday evening.
“When you look at what they’ve been through, when you look at all of the death and all of the problems and all of the sickness, when you look at what’s happened, I just think the American people have been incredible,” said Mr. Trump.
“They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is just the same as about all of the governors. They all wanna open — nobody wants to stay shut, but they wanna open safely,” Mr. Trump added.
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