Short Take: Picking Cotton

The junior Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, has an op-ed in the New York Times defending the use of force to quell protests, riots and looting. If only we could listen in on James Bennett’s discussing the decision to publish it.

JB: You’re not going to believe this, but Tom Cotton actually sent us an op-ed to defend Trump!
Random Editorial Board Person: Holy shit! Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!!!
JB: This will make their heads explode! We’ll get a gazillion hits. Ad revs will go through the roof!
Random Editorial Board Person: Holy shit! Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!!!
JB: Of course, our readers will be outraged and blame us for giving this asshole a platform, but who cares? Love or hate, they’ll read, and we can pretend we’re being fair to all points of view! That will shut Trump up with his whining.
Random Editorial Board Person: Holy shit! Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!!!

Of course, it might not have gone exactly that way, but then, it could have. Cotton’s op-ed is so very Cotton, culminating in his best defense of the tactic of suppressing protest by force.

Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence. In New York State, rioters ran over officers with cars on at least three occasions. In Las Vegas, an officer is in “grave” condition after being shot in the head by a rioter. In St. Louis, four police officers were shot as they attempted to disperse a mob throwing bricks and dumping gasoline; in a separate incident, a 77-year-old retired police captain was shot to death as he tried to stop looters from ransacking a pawnshop. This is “somebody’s granddaddy,” a bystander screamed at the scene.

Sure, these are the rioters and looters, who are engaged in criminal conduct, not protests. So what about the protesters?

Some elites have excused this orgy of violence in the spirit of radical chic, calling it an understandable response to the wrongful death of George Floyd. Those excuses are built on a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters. A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.

Yeah, rioters. Got that.

These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives. Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further.

The horse is dead. Stop beating. Let’s get to the protesters.

One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers. But local law enforcement in some cities desperately needs backup, while delusional politicians in other cities refuse to do what’s necessary to uphold the rule of law.

Ah. I see what you did there. You went from rioters and looters to “lawbreakers.” You went from stores being looted to “restore order to our streets.” Smooth, Senator, as you lump those engaged in crime with those engaged in the exercise of their constitutional rights.

To be honest, an argument as to why a smart, rational person would believe that the tactic of “overwhelming show of force” would be the best means to address what’s happening on the streets would be welcome, although I have serious doubts that any serious argument can be made that force won’t inflame matters, do vast and unjustifiable harm to Americans and greatly exacerbate problems. But Cotton’s op-ed didn’t do it.

Nonetheless, the internet being what it is, the New York Times already has a Letter to the Editor posted about the Cotton op-ed.

I strongly disagree with Mr. Cotton’s suggestion to use U.S. troops to suppress the protests occurring throughout the country. I disagree even more strongly with The New York Times’s giving Mr. Cotton a platform to express his views. His extremist rhetoric only serves to fan the flames of division and suppression.

Not only was the decision to print his words wrong, the decision to do so on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing is beyond comprehension. Shame on you! Shame on you!

David Anderson of Chicago could have used his real estate to demolish Cotton’s position. Instead, he used it to shame the NYT for publishing the position of a United States Senator with whom he strongly disagrees. Smart, James Bennett. Very smart.

4 thoughts on “Short Take: Picking Cotton

  1. John Barleycorn

    Alrighty then….glad you got that out of your system, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up about this week’s Times Sunday Review:

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