Thursday, June 04, 2020


So did you read Tom Cotton's op-ed?

I made this fake headline for the piece and at least one person thought it was real: I'll leave you to decide what that says about both Senator Cotton and the Times.

Even though Cotton assures his readers that his imagined show of military force under a newly activated Insurrection Act would do no more than "disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers," he assembles a little list of enemies guaranteed to make any Fox News viewer dream of bloody vengeance.
Mayor Bill de Blasio stood by while Midtown Manhattan descended into lawlessness.... Some [looters] even drove exotic cars ... carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich ... feckless politicians ... Some elites have excused this orgy of violence in the spirit of radical chic ... nihilist criminals ... cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa ...
The response to the op-ed was overwhelmingly negative, even among Times staffers.
Dozens of Times staff members responded to the Op-Ed on Twitter by tweeting the sentence (or variations on it): “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger.” ...

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine who won the Pulitzer Prize in commentary last month, tweeted, “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.” ...

The NewsGuild of New York, the union that represents many Times journalists, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Op-Ed “promotes hate.”
The military establishment seems more reluctant to go down this road than Cotton, who served but is now a civilian. Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed opposition to invoking the Insurrection Act. Former Marine general James Mattis, who preceded Esper as defense secretary, blasted Trump for seeking to militarize the situation, and for continually dividing the country.

Meanwhile, this is what we get in the absence of a full militarization of the response:
... the police line just north of the White House on Wednesday afternoon featured a patchwork of colors and agents wearing generic outfits ― sometimes what appeared to be just T-shirts under their protective gear that gave no indication of even their department or military branch.

Attorney General William Barr is leading this aggressive response that has brought in an alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies to guard federal property and suppress unrest: FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the U.S. Marshals; and the federal Bureau of Prisons. Those Department of Justice forces join Homeland Security officers, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol Police, the Federal Protective Service, the Secret Service and the District of Columbia National Guard.

... Allowing federal law enforcement to operate with anonymity all but eliminates accountability when force is inevitably used against demonstrators. Critics say it also breeds government distrust and is reminiscent of authoritarian regimes.

... Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) ... who has been watching videos of protests, said he could not distinguish federal personnel but that local law enforcement officers were also covering their badge numbers with black tape....
It's possible that if we had full militarization, the troops would be less inclined to act as if they were above the law than the cops and others patrolling the streets now. They might be more dedicated to deescalation than the police or ragtag groups from the FBI or the Bureau of Prisons.

But while Cotton's surface message was that troops would calmly and professionally restore order, he was really hoping to stir bloodlust -- and to position himself as the #1 enemy of feckless radical-chic elitists. Oddly, those elitists now include Mad Dog Mattis. America is divided, but not the way Cotton hoped it would be.

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