Senator Tom Cotton’s call to ‘send in the troops’ has been called out by staff of The New York Times.
The publication decided to run an opinion piece by the senator yesterday, June 3; a decision that has since come under fire from many of its staff for its ‘dangerous’ language.
In Cotton’s Op-Ed piece, he speaks about the riots that have been taking place across the country and argues they have nothing to with the death of George Floyd – a black man who died in police custody last week.
Following Floyd’s death and the ongoing protests, his family have spoken out about the riots, with his girlfriend stating they would ‘devastate him’.
Speaking about using the National Guard to control the riots, Cotton wrote:
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.”
[…] The federal government has a constitutional duty to the states to “protect each of them from domestic violence.” Throughout our history, presidents have exercised this authority on dozens of occasions to protect law-abiding citizens from disorder.
The Insurrection Act, passed in 1807, gives the president the authority to deploy the U.S. military and federalised National Guard troops within the states in particular circumstances, such as to ‘suppress civil disorder, insurrection and rebellion’.
Since publishing the article, many members of staff from The New York Times have revolted, arguing that sharing the piece was putting the publication’s black employees in danger.
National politics reporter for the paper Astead Wesley was one of many who tweeted about the controversial piece.
Supporting my colleagues, and particularly the black ones. if electeds want to make provocative arguments let them withstand the questions and context of a news story, not unvarnished and unchecked.
Many people commented on Astead’s tweet to say they had since unsubscribed from the publication.
The NewsGuild of New York also commented on the publication, saying in a joint statement from its members they are ‘deeply concerned’ about the Op-Ed piece by Tom Cotton and the language he used.
The Guild wrote:
[Cotton’s] message undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts our Black staff members in danger, promotes hate, and is likely to encourage further violence.
Following the outrage of sharing Senator Cotton’s piece, editorial page editor James Bennet has defended the paper’s decision to publish it.
In a thread of tweets, alongside links to previous articles from The New York Times, Bennet said:
The Times editorial board has forcefully defended the protests as patriotic and criticized the use of force, saying earlier today that police too often have “responded with more violence — against protesters, journalists and bystanders.”
We’ve also crusaded for years against the underlying, systemic cruelties that led to these protests.
As part of our explorations of these issues, Times Opinion has published powerful arguments supporting protests, advocating fundamental change and criticizing police abuses.
Finishing the thread, Bennet said they understood that many would find Cotton’s argument ‘painful’ and ‘even dangerous’ but, with that in mind, wanted to open his opinion up to public scrutiny and debate.
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