It’s difficult to overestimate how truly awful Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed in the NY Times yesterday was, but here’s the bit that made me stop reading and my mouth hang wide open…
“One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.”
This is the sort of faux-macho, swaggering insecurity that has characterized the current iteration of Republican leadership in our nation.
It confuses power for strength, and hubris for courage. It never apologizes, always doubles down, and substitutes a toxic blend of arrogance and ignorance for thoughtfulness, wisdom, and compassion.
While Mr. Cotton may have come for the demands for unthinkable escalations of violence and anarchy, he stayed for the casual racist slurs and demonizing of the protesters:
- “Bands of looters roved the streets, smashing and emptying hundreds of businesses. Some even drove exotic cars…”–because, you know who drives “exotic cars”…wink wink!
- “On the contrary, nihilist criminals are simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction, with cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes.”–because, even though the FBI has determined there is no evidence of involvement from “antifa,” and extensive reporting that much of the agitation on the ground is being instigated by radical right-wing activists, it serves Mr. Cottons false narrative to blame forces on the left for unrest rather than place the blame where it belongs.
- And here’s a two-fer: “Gov. Orval Faubus, a racist Democrat, mobilized our National Guard in 1957 to obstruct desegregation at Little Rock Central High School.”
- 1. Cotton casually describes Faubus as a “racist Democrat”, conveniently ignoring the fact that Faubus was a well-known political opportunist who was more concerned with his political survival than with any particular ideology: “Faubus later told a journalist working for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “it is true in politics as it is in life that survival is the first law”. Fearing he would lose office Faubus decided to fight the decision by the Supreme Court in 1954 that separate schools were not equal and were therefore unconstitutional.” So, Faubus was less a “racist Democrat” than he was a craven political shape-shifter–and as an Arkansan, Cotton knows this.
- 2. Cotton actually used the mobilization of the National Guard in 1957 to keep Little Rock’s schools from desegregating as a precedent for using the US military now to quash peaceful protests. That’s just…insane.
Here’s the truth…
“One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of respect to the protesters, and the demonstration of a sincere interest in listening and understanding their anger, pain, and despair.”
Sadly, these are all qualities far beyond the reach of Mr. Cotton, and his ideological idol and mentor, Mr. Trump…and until they are both removed from power we will be subjected to a continuous clown’s parade of ineptitude mixed with banality.
Somehow, Sen. Cotton’s dangerous and incendiary rhetoric brings to mind the following lyrics from “Send In The Clowns,” by one of my favorite composers, the brilliant Stephen Sondheim…
Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry, my dear!
But where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here
November cannot get here soon enough.