In a weak attempt to actually give voice to some other viewpoints this week, The New York Times ran an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), who argued that President Donald Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act and “send in the troops” to tamp down the violent riots engulfing dozens of American cities. It wouldn’t seem as if giving a prominent Republican senator space to urge an end to the destruction would be a particularly controversial editorial choice, but then again, this is 2020, and the world has gone absolutely mad.
Before long, dozens of Times staffers took to their Twitter accounts to accuse the paper of “putting black lives in danger” by running the Cotton op-ed.
Their union actually put out a statement, which said: “His message undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts our Black staff members in danger, promotes hate, and is likely to encourage further violence. Invariably, invoking state violence disproportionately hurts Black and brown people. It also jeopardizes our journalists’ ability to work in the field safely and effectively.”
None of this is really surprising, of course. We are, after all, talking about a leftist movement that is now working to “defund the police.”
Now, we can reasonably talk about whether sending in the troops to these cities is the right move. But when these cities are in flames, businesses are being destroyed, and people are getting outright murdered by looters and anarchists, it is in no way a radical position to consider moving the military in to quell the violence. It has nothing to do with racism, and it certainly has nothing to do with the death of George Floyd (in much the same way that stealing an air-fryer from Target has nothing to do with either). It’s about restoring law, order, and safety to the streets.
Sadly, the Times surrendered to this anti-free speech mob. In an era where “speech is violence” but arson is not, it became untenable for the paper’s editors to stand behind the decision to publish the op-ed. Editorial page chief James Bennet claimed not to have read the essay before publication, and he released a statement lamenting the fact that the paper’s usual editorial process was “rushed.”
Bennet did not go into any great detail about which steps were skipped; we can only assume it was the step where the paper’s contents are reviewed by a panel of Black Lives Matter activists. We’re sure the New York Times will not make that mistake again.