As the sun rose in China Thursday on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, The New York Timespublished an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) arguing that President Trump should invoke the "venerable" Insurrection Act and send the U.S. military into U.S. cities in "an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain, and ultimately deter lawbreakers." (Last August, Cotton said "America didn't respond strongly enough when peaceful protesters were gunned down and run over by Chinese tanks," adding: "From Tiananmen Square to Hong Kong, the [Chinese Communist Party] has used brutal force & threats of force to bend the people to its will.")
Trump liked Cotton's "Send in the Troops" op-ed, but among the many people who strongly objected to the essay and The New York Times' decision to publish it were dozens of New York Times reporters, The New York Times reports.
Several Times reporters tweeted some variation of "Running this puts Black @nytimes staffers in danger," and the New York NewsGuild argued that "invoking state violence disproportionately hurts black and brown people" and "jeopardizes our journalists' ability to work in the field safely and effectively." Three Times journalists, the Times reports, "said they had informed their editors that sources told them they would no longer provide them with information because of the op-ed."
Cotton's assertion that "cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa" are "infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd's death for their own anarchic purposes" had already been dismissed Monday in The New York Times as "the biggest piece of protest misinformation tracked by Zignal Labs," the Times notes. Responding to the backlash, opinion page editor James Bennet tweeted: "Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy."
"There is a copious amount of moral outrage about Cotton's proposal," Tufts political scientist Daniel Drezner wrote in a Washington Post rebuttal op-ed, but "I want to focus on the social-science-y elements of Cotton's thesis," which has three key elements: "This is a necessary move because of the damage from violence, an overwhelming show of force would work, and the American public would support it." He explained why each argument is wrong, adding that many "senior combat veterans think this would be a horrible idea," too, and "there is the mild fascist whiff that comes from Cotton's prose. Other than that, it's a great op-ed." Peter Weber