Economist Stephen Moore, an adviser to President Donald Trump, was criticized on Saturday after he compared stay-at-home order protesters to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Groups of conservative demonstrators have been occupying streets across the country to protest coronavirus-related restrictions. They believe the rules meant to save their lives are depriving them of their agency. While many would view this behavior as dangerous, Moore praised the groups for their efforts, according to The Washington Post.
The protests came as Trump took to Twitter just minutes after a Fox News report on the protests to encourage these kinds of actions, tweeting Friday morning “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” The president also aimed at the state of Virginia “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”
“I think there’s a boiling point that has been reached and exceeded,” said Moore in a Washington Post interview published Friday. Moore, a member of the White House council assembled to address reopening the country, added, “I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties.”
Unsurprisingly, some corners of social media went into an uproar at this comparison with the Alabama Black woman whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus in 1955, a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.
“Stephen Moore, please kindly stfu. Times are entirely too dangerous to politely disagree or offer filtered retorts,” tweeted Tiffany Cross. “The #MAGA tribe is killing us. And I’d rather fight to the death before I lay down & die. They dropped civility a long time ago. Cool. Bc I’ve got none for you.”
“When people like Stephen Moore make comparisons to Ross Parks we should treat it as the cynical, calculated form of race baiting that it is. Enslavers said *they* were in fact the slaves,” wrote Nikole Hannah-Jones. “Segregationists adopted Civil Rights mvmt language to fight policies to help black people.”
“I wish this pinheaded punk bastard would have the nerve to spew this s–t in front of a Black Person’s face!” said a user known as Darius’s Dad. “I give you my word he’d be sipping soup through a straw for the rest of his sorry ass life! That is not a threat but instead a true fact! Trust!”
This isn’t the first time Moore has invoked the late activist’s name, as Time Magazine pointed out. On April 14, he used her name to encourage civil disobedience from conservatives following an action in Wisconsin.
“This is a great time, gentlemen and ladies, for civil disobedience,” Moore said during an interview with Freedom On Tap. “We need to be the Rosa Parks here and protest against these government injustices.”
Vox reported there were marches and demonstrations in North Carolina, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Idaho, Kentucky, California and Michigan last week. The event in Michigan caused a traffic jam in the state capital of Lansing and protesters were seen carrying Confederate flags and pro-Trump paraphernalia.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the target of their fury, argued the movement was counterproductive to their goal.
“A small segment of the state is protesting and that’s their right,” Whitmer told CNN last week. “The sad part is, though, that the more that they’re out and about, the more likely they are to spread COVID-19 and the more likely we’re going to have to take this posture for a longer period of time.”
Data from the Pew Research Center and Gallup determined many Americans are worried about the limits being lifted too early. Pew surveyed more than 5000 people and the majority, 66 percent, were afraid social distancing would be ended too soon. The Gallup poll was based on a pool of 2,500 people and the findings were analyzed based on political affiliation. Around 80 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans were more worried about catching the virus than the economy.