Of all the things in the world, one would hope that a newspaper in the United States, something that fundamentally lives and dies on the country’s freedom from tyranny and fascism, would support freedom of speech over, say, fascism. But The New York Times, possibly celebrating the 31st anniversary of the student uprising in Tiananmen Square, decided to run a wildly fascistic op-ed from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. The op-ed titled “Tom Cotton: Send In The Troops,” really says it all. Cotton has been pressing for Donald Trump to employ the military to squash racial injustice protests erupting throughout the country, going so far as to name check the 101st Airborne Division as a good unit to enforce this decidedly anti-American and anti-First Amendment attack.
New York Times staffers slammed the decision, leading to publisher A.G. Sulzberger offering a weak-sauce defense using the buzzword “diversity.” In a letter to staffers, Sulzberger reportedly said the opinion section of the Times “provide readers a diversity of perspectives,” but more importantly—and this is key—he claimed that the opinion section does have criteria for the argument being made: “they need to be accurate, good faith explorations of the issues of the day.” This is an interesting thing to say, especially after publishing Sen. Tom Cotton’s fact-free screed of authoritarian fear-mongering.
As The Washington Post points out, Cotton asserts all kinds of things that even the Times itself has debunked. For example, the bloviated claims by Trump officials and people like Cotton that antifa elements have been the wide cause of looting and property damage connected to the protests going on across the country. Responses to the Times decision to give air to Cotton’s scary military fever dream came hard and fast, from New York Times reporters of color to virtually anyone not into fascism as a thing we should be trying to support in our country.
It’s also important to understand why running transparent fascistic bullshit is antithetical to news reporting. As The New York Times staff itself reports, sourced by way of New York Times’ staff, fascism is terrifying to people who investigate the news and to the sources they depend on for information.
Three Times journalists, who declined to be identified by name, said they had informed their editors that sources told them they would no longer provide them with information because of the Op-Ed.
It is also a racist performance piece by Cotton, and New York Times staffers across the board saw it for what it was.
Tom Cotton is what would happen if Mr. Smith, after going to Washington, became corrupted by the money system, sold his soul to the devil, and then went bananas cuckoo for fascism. But New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet decided to defend his decision by mostly talking about cool things the Times has done, and then equating Cotton’s op-ed to part of the Times “exploration of these issues.” People responded with a similar exploration of their own.
And as writer Sarah Rose pointed out, in The New York Times’ defense, they have a history of heavy flirting with fascism.
That’s an article from 1941. To put this in perspective, Mein Kampf was originally published in 1925 with English versions in circulation in the late 1930s. So a 1941 New York Times article publishing excerpts from it seems to be the tradition Bennett and others are deluding themselves with.
I also wanted to throw this in here to be mean to Tom Cotton.
Finally, if the criteria that needs to be met is so low, then at the very least one could print this much-higher standard-of-evidence opinion piece.
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