Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer admonished Scott Atlas, a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, on Monday after he shared a tweet that appeared to call on residents to “rise up” in response to new regulations Whitmer had put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in her state.
Atlas, a noted proponent of “herd immunity,” a controversial strategy that many have compared to eugenics and that would result in hundreds of thousands more deaths, shared the tweet just after Whitmer announced the new rules on Sunday, which include a three-week closure of indoor services at restaurants, bars and casinos in Detroit, as well as the shutdown of high schools and colleges.
“The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept,” Atlas wrote in his tweet.
After several users on Twitter noted that Atlas’s words could be interpreted as incendiary, Atlas quote-tweeted his original post, arguing against that interpretation.
“Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!” he wrote.
Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!! https://t.co/LljvwMvjDV
— Scott W. Atlas (@ScottWAtlas) November 16, 2020
Whitmer on Monday blasted Atlas for his initial tweet, juxtaposing it with the fact that the governor herself was the target of a thwarted kidnapping plot by Michigan militia members due to previous rules she had put in place for coronavirus.
“It’s just incredibly reckless, considering everything that has happened, everything that is going on,” Whitmer said.
The plot to abduct the governor at her summer residence and set off explosives as a diversionary tactic was uncovered by investigators last month. At the time, a number of observers, including President-elect Joe Biden, said President Donald Trump, who tweeted in April that residents of the state should “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” may have played a role in motivating the would-be kidnappers to push forward with their plans.
“When the president tweeted, ‘liberate Michigan,’ that’s the call that was heard. That was the dog whistle,” Biden said after the plot was thwarted.
Recent polling demonstrates that most voters in her state view her in a positive light. According to a Detroit News–WDIV-TV poll conducted between October 23-25, 59 percent of voters say they approve of Whitmer’s performance in office. When looking strictly at her coronavirus response, the positive rating goes up to 61 percent.