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The Thought Police Are Out in Full Force, Demanding Compliance

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

Cortney touched on today's truly insane New York Times controversy, in which Times "journalists" and others on the Left are angrily denouncing the paper for running an op/ed written by a sitting US Senator, espousing a majority-supported proposal. Sen. Tom Cotton calls for the invocation of the Insurrection Act in areas of the country where police are unable to quell violent riots and looting, citing previous (rare) examples of presidents deploying the military to enforce order. A recent poll from Morning Consult, which Cotton mentions in the piece, shows that the public -- rightly horrified by the burning of cities and communities -- favors this idea by a two-to-one margin, garnering the support of nearly four-in-ten black voters. But the Official Left, led by the Times' own employees, has decided that this opinion was not only wrong, but so "dangerous" that it should not have been published:


The refrain from these journalists is that running the column places black Times employees in literal, physical danger. Another Times denizen, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for an ahistorical woke project that was decried as shoddy and error-riddled by real historians, said it would have been "immoral" not to condemn the decision to publish Cotton, pronouncing herself "deeply ashamed." In recent days, this same person has claimed that various forms of violence are not really violence, which is actually shameful and dangerous.  Other leftists have signaled their pro-censorship solidarity by ostentatiously unfollowing The New York Times' Twitter account and dramatically canceling their subscriptions:

The union representing Times journalists published this statement on the matter, which is overwrought to the point of derangement:


The op-ed represents "a clear threat to the health and safety of journalists," the guild asserts, echoing a lazy, idiotic line pioneered by others. This is lunacy. Many of these exact same people argue that violence is not violence, yet speech about halting violence is a danger. Also, approximately zero of these exact same people breathed a word of outrage when the Times published opinion pieces authored by oppressive Socialist dictators or terrorist organizations that have slaughtered American troops. To be clear, Cotton is proposing a law enforcement solution to ongoing physical violence and destruction. He justifies his idea using law and precedent. No one is forcing anybody to endorse his conclusions -- I'm of mixed mind, but as I noted, most of the public is behind his idea -- yet the reactions above would suggest that he'd called for something like the wanton machine-gunning of peaceful protesters.

On that point, one reporter at Slate (which just ran a piece normalizing violence) also noted that in addition to being unhinged, the News Guild statement was also inaccurate. It claimed that Cotton proposed to "mobilize the military to 'detain' and 'subdue' Americans protesting racism." This is wrong. "Cotton clearly distinguished protesters from looters. Journalists should always tell the truth," he tweeted. That journalists are openly conflating violent and non-violent actions is a serious and revealing problem unto itself. What's the point of all this? Writer Andrew Sullivan rightly sees the aggressive anti-speech tantrum as a campaign of bullying and coercion, calling it an internal "attempted coup" in pursuit of exerting control:


His Evergreen parallel refers to this ordeal. The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney adds this observation, which Mary Katharine Ham and I have made frequently while promoting our (still highly relevant) book, "End of Discussion": "Remember six years ago when conservatives would point at the censorious college PC woke leftists and say 'LOL, those kids are in for a rude awakening they enter the real world'[?] That was always wrong. It was the rest of us who needed to brace for them." Exactly. Anti-tolerance, anti-speech forces are seeking to reshape the 'real world' by turning major institutions and brands into instruments for their radical agenda and the stifling of dissent. I very much hope that the Times doesn't buckle to these illiberal demands by scrubbing the op/ed or posting some groveling apology. I suspect they won't, but I also suspect the shouters are laying down a marker as a means of pressuring and influencing editors' choices in the future.


Meanwhile, the endless parade of thought enforcement is ubiquitous and exhausting. NFL quarterback Drew Brees has apologized and clarified after making a simple statement that he opposes kneeling during the US national anthem. After acting as a genuine hero for the city of New Orleans for years, protesters chanted "F*** Drew Brees" in the streets because his concept of patriotism and respect differs from theirs. A sports broadcaster in California was fired for saying "all lives matter, every single one." I have come to understand why some people view the "all lives matter" rejoinder as insensitive or missing the point of Black Lives Matter -- but it is quite insane for that sentiment to be a sanctionable offense, let alone a fireable one. There may be more to that story lurking beneath the surface, but at first blush, the terminated announcer should seriously consider his legal options. Then there's the firestorm around actress Emma Watson, who committed the sin of expressing solidarity the "wrong" way on Instagram. And on and on it goes.

The radical, influential fringe isn't interested in healing, "allyship," or grace. They're interested in wielding total control over what constitutes acceptable thought in our society, and they'll accept nothing less. The hectoring will never stop. I'll leave you with this, which I can't believe is real:


One more parting thought: Opposing Tom Cotton's policy suggestion necessarily means leaving the task of stopping rioting and looting exclusively in the hands of the police, who these activists believe are systemically racist and abusive. The military as an institution has broad public trust and respect, and is considered by many to be better prepared to avoid escalatory overreaction. I have some civic reservations about turning over domestic law enforcement duties to the military, even under extenuating circumstances, but I fail to see the logic behind the hysterical claim that an effective peacekeeping intervention by US troops would create more danger for anyone -- including or especially black journalists. But logic isn't really the point, is it?

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