The New York Times drew sharp criticism on Wednesday for publishing an op-ed by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton calling for the military to be deployed to the nation’s streets to respond to the protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
The op-ed was titled “Send in the Troops.”
In the op-ed, Cotton (R-Ark.) claimed that “[o]utnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence” from the unrest. He added that certain “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.”
He also suggested that suggested the protesters are “nihilist criminals… simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction, with cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes.”
To respond to the social justice uprising, Cotton called for “an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain, and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” and reiterated his call for President Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy military to streets, dismissing opponents of using that 1807 law as “excitable critics, ignorant of both the law and our history.”
“Some governors have mobilized the National Guard, yet others refuse, and in some cases the rioters still outnumber the police and Guard combined. In these circumstances, the Insurrection Act authorizes the president to employ the military ‘or any other means’ in ‘cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws,'” claimed Cotton.
“Why, New York Times, why?” tweeted Jason Lyall, a political scientist at Dartmouth.
I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but to not say something would be immoral. As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this. https://t.co/lU1KmhH2zH
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) June 4, 2020
“Trump is not the only problem of this country,” tweeted writer and historian Massimo Faggioli. “I am not referring to Sen. Cotton, but also to the NYT choosing to publish this.”
Others responding to the new op-ed focused on Cotton’s language and claims.
“This is the most openly authoritarian piece of writing I’ve read from an American politician who has been in power during my lifetime,” tweeted author and HuffPost reporter Zach Carter.
“Tom Cotton is a fascist,” tweeted journalist Walker Bragman. “Hate oozes from every word of this dehumanizing screed.”
Cotton had already urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act in recent days, saying in a Monday interview on Fox News, “If local law enforcement is overwhelmed, if local politicians will not do their most basic job to protect our citizens, let’s see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street.”
The Times has previously pubished op-eds by Cotton, including one from last year in which he argues the U.S. should buy Greenland, a purchase Trump also floated.