On June 3, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton calling for the use of the United States Military to suppress the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the country. I am writing to express my disappointment that the editors, including James Bennet, chose to publish this appalling perspective.
Mr. Cotton’s editorial is a derogatory and inflammatory argument for violent suppression of citizens’ voices and the establishment of an oppressive military state. As a lawmaker, Cotton should have more respect for American citizens’ right to assemble and to express themselves freely. Use of military force on a country’s own citizens in response to scattered rioting amongst primarily peaceful demonstrations would be a disproportionate response, and would amount to the suspension of the Constitution. It would surely result in more loss of life among both protestors and law enforcers, and escalate the already tense situation.
The choice to circulate this opinion is more than a matter of “considering alternate perspectives.” By lending Cotton the voice and wide circulation of the “paper of record”, Bennet and his colleagues have deliberately contributed to creating a more dangerous environment for Black people in the whole country as well as for their supporters in America’s cities, and for Black journalists.
As a member of the Religious Society of Friends, who hold dear the testimonies of peace, community, and equality, it runs counter to my convictions. A truly free, democratic government should not even consider exerting the inordinate violent potential of its own military against its own people, especially in such a situation which would single out and cause greater violence to a minority group that is already suffering from police brutality.
There is a good reason why the New York Times’ Black reporters have uniformly joined in protesting the publication of this editorial. I request that the op-ed be retracted and call for Tom Cotton to immediately resign his Congressional seat for advancing this kind of anti-constitutional, inflammatory rhetoric.