The White House pandemic adviser Dr. Scott Atlas backtracked on his "rise up" tweet against Michigan's new restrictions on coronavirus saying he would never endorse or incite violence. Atlas clarified that he meant people should protest peacefully against the restrictions.
On Sunday, Atlas quoted a tweet that detailed Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's orders that sought to close educational institutions, indoor dining at restaurants, movie theaters, among other things for three weeks as the nation saw a spike in coronavirus cases during in recent weeks. The White House adviser encouraged people to "rise up" against the restrictions to stop it.
Atlas tweeted: "The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp"
The 65-year-old neuroradiologist received backlash for the tweet with multiple Twitter users accusing him of inciting violence. Others reminded him that social distancing guidelines were introduced only to protect people. Following the criticism, Atlas issued a clarification saying was not talking about violence.
"Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER," he tweeted.
Whitmer responded to Atlas' comments saying she will not be bullied by the officials at the White House. "We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular. I'm not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals," she told CNN.
Atlas' comments against Whitmer's orders came after the FBI thwarted a militia plot to kidnap the Michigan governor for "treason." The militia group, "Wolverine Watchmen," planned a violent attack on Michigan's government and wanted to start a civil war this summer.
This is not the first time when Atlas has courted controversy. Last month, he tweeted that masks did not stop the spread of coronavirus infection. However, Twitter removed the dubious claim from the platform.
President Donald Trump and his administration had expressed doubts over the efficacy of wearing masks to spread the Covid-19 infection. While healthcare experts across the world have urged people to use mouth and nose coverings during the pandemic, the Trump administration took an opposite stand.