Friday, June 05, 2020


The New York Times generally disapproves of criticism from within, but it's making an exception for that opinion piece by Tom Cotton:

Goldberg succinctly explains why the piece was abhorrent:
Cotton ... is calling for what would almost certainly amount to massive violence against his fellow citizens: an “overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.”

In a racist inversion, he equates his fantasy of soldiers putting down an uprising triggered by police brutality against black people with previous presidents using the military to enforce desegregation.

His argument is frequently slippery and dishonest. The claim that police officers “bore the brunt of the violence” is hard to square with countless videos of police instigation. (So far, more civilians than police officers have been reported killed during the uprising.)

Cotton notes that President George H.W. Bush sent federal troops into Los Angeles in 1992 to quell the riots that broke out after the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted. But he doesn’t tell readers that Bush did so at the invitation of California’s governor.

That’s very different from the federal government overriding local elected authorities and occupying their states and cities, which seems to be what Cotton is proposing. It’s an idea that appalls many military leaders.
But she says she understands the reason the piece was run:
Before Donald Trump became president, most newspaper op-ed pages sought to present a spectrum of politically significant opinion and argument, which they could largely do while walling off extremist propaganda and incitement. The Trump presidency has undermined that model, because there’s generally no way to defend the administration without being either bigoted or dishonest.

Opinion sections, eager to maintain ideological diversity without publishing lies or stuff that belongs in Breitbart, have therefore filled up with anti-Trump conservatives. As a result, newspapers like this one have often been criticized for elevating an intellectual clique that has little mass base or political influence.

So I can sort of appreciate my bosses’ decision on Wednesday to run Senator Tom Cotton’s screed.... The Times Opinion section wants to include the views of people who support Trump, and the very qualities that make Cotton’s Op-Ed revolting — his strongman pretensions, his sneering apocalypticism — make him an important figure in Trump’s Republican Party. (He might someday come to lead it.)

Readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing, not because it’s worth taking seriously but because it is being taken seriously, particularly by our mad and decomposing president.... The paper could convey his views by reporting on them, but for the Opinion section, letting him express them himself is more direct.
And she believes that there are limits to what the Times op-ed page would publish, even in search of newsworthy reflections of administration thinking.
I could be wrong, but I don’t believe The Times would have published a defense of family separation by former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the height of that atrocity, or a piece by the senior Trump aide Stephen Miller about the necessity of curbing nonwhite immigration. In both cases, I’m pretty sure the liberal inclination to hear all sides would have smacked up against sheer moral abhorrence.
She's probably wrong about that. Let's go back to January:
The New York Times published an op-ed decrying immigration by an author claiming to be a “liberal restrictionist” who is in fact attached to a known hate group.

The column, published Friday, was written by Jerry Kammer, “a senior research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies,” according to the biography listed under his byline.

CIS, which calls itself “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization,” is a known hate group that has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant movement that hires racist writers and associates with white nationalists....

White House adviser Stephen Miller, a white nationalist, has cited CIS when speaking about immigration, and in 2011, the group released a report attempting to connect immigration with the creation of future terrorists, calling them “terror babies.”
In December, columnist ... Bret Stephens cited a study by a white nationalist that falsely claimed Ashkenazi Jews have a higher IQ than other races. The study he cited “traffics in centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes,” according to the SPLC.
It's a short leap from there to publishing defenses of racist immigration policies. Why wouldn't the Times op-ed page have published such pieces, especially if they'd come in under the byline of a top administration official or prominent GOP member of Congress?

I think Goldberg is giving her bosses too much credit.

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