Journalists at The New York Times have expressed dismay after an opinion piece by Republican senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas called for ‘sending the troops’ to curb the Black Lives Matter protests and riots in several parts of the country.
The riots are the result of the murder of George Floyd, an African American person, at the hands of an police officer working with the Minnesota Police.
“The rioting has nothing to do with George Floyd, whose bereaved relatives have condemned violence. 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.
“These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives. Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further,” Cotton wrote in his opinion piece.
The staff members at the New York Times – both in the opinion and news sections – expressed dismay at the piece getting published, with a bunch of them tweeting that black staff members weren’t safe at the New York Times.
The News Guild of New York also put out a statement saying, "The moments that are hardest to bear witness to are also the moments that none of us can afford to look away from. Read our statement on the racist policing targeting Black people and the shameful and brazen attacks on the civil rights and liberties of protestors and journalists.”
This is the detailed statement.
Meanwhile, New York Times opinion editor James Bennet put out a series of tweets, defending his stance on putting up the piece. “The Times editorial board has forcefully defended the protests as patriotic and criticized the use of force, saying earlier today that police too often have “responded with more violence — against protesters, journalists and bystanders. We’ve also crusaded for years against the underlying, systemic cruelties that led to these protests. As part of our explorations of these issues, Times Opinion has published powerful arguments supporting protests, advocating fundamental change and criticising police abuses. Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy. We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton's argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.” (sic)
Interestingly, the New York Times Op-Ed has been known to have controversial Op-Eds in the past. Last year, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a piece, claiming that he had called for peace with India, and that India was responsible for the violence in Jammu & Kashmir. In February this year, they even published an article written by the deputy head of the terrorist organisation, The Taliban.