First, the New York Times had the audacity to publish an insipid op-ed by a United States Senator on a matter of huge public importance at the moment. The editorial page editor defended the decision to publish diverse views. But a spokesperson, who has obviously never read an op-ed by Roxane Gay, subsequently announced that it was a big mistake.
The Times issued a statement saying the essay fell short of the newspaper’s standards.
What that means isn’t clear. They claimed it was “rushed,” which is pretty much how op-eds work, but there were no typos. A wag might question what “standards” they’re referring to, but it’s not as if this statement were issued by the newspaper of record where they used words that minimally explained what they hell they mean, so they can be forgiven their trespasses. Well, this one, anyway.
But what generated this mea culpa? 800 New York Times staffers signed a letter protesting the publication of Cotton’s op-ed. Many went to the twitters, where this became their mantra:
Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger
Does the staff fear that it will bring rioters, looters, protesters, to their door, and when they go out for coffee, they will be beaten for working for a newspaper that would publish Cotton’s op-ed? Perhaps this refers to the core argument Cotton made, that “lawbreakers” need to be put down with overwhelming force, and if the NYT staff are taking part in the protests, they will be in the zone of danger.
Except Cotton isn’t causing the use of force, but attempting in his own ham-handed way to justify it. Had Cotton not written the op-ed, had the New York Times not published it, would that change anything about how force was being used on the streets? Since the NYT staff isn’t comprised of bunch of drooling dopes, they must realize this, and so this can’t possibly be what they mean as it’s just dumb.
What does the “running” of an op-ed that attempts to rationalize the tactic of, well, let’s use Cotton’s words, accomplish?
One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.
This will appeal to a few million people for whom “lawbreakers” is sufficient to focus on the rioting and looting that is, without question, going on, and ignore the rioting and looting by the police of their fellow Americans that is, without question, going on. This is a position that needs to be seen, to be aired, not because it’s sound, and not because it comforts supporters of the Times’ arch nemesis, but because it’s happening.
For worse or worst, this is the best excuse the administration can offer to explain why it’s made the choice to use force. Cotton isn’t wrong that this isn’t a new choice when trying to “restore order” and end protests, riots and looting, but this is the best he’s got. That makes it newsworthy. That makes it important to know. That’s why it needed to be published.
But the Times says it puts black staff in danger? That makes even less sense than Cotton’s op-ed.