In The New York Times, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas reminds readers of the history of using the military to protect Americans from anarchy and insurrection. He writes (abridged):
New York City suffered the worst of the riots Monday night, as Mayor Bill de Blasio stood by while Midtown Manhattan descended into lawlessness.
Bands of looters roved the streets, smashing and emptying hundreds of businesses. Some even drove exotic cars; the riots were carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements.
Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence. In New York State, rioters ran over officers with cars on at least three occasions.
In Las Vegas, an officer is in “grave” condition after being shot in the head by a rioter. In St. Louis, four police officers were shot as they attempted to disperse a mob throwing bricks and dumping gasoline.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson called out the military to disperse mobs that prevented school desegregation or threatened innocent lives and property.
This happened in my own state. Gov. Orval Faubus, a racist Democrat, mobilized our National Guard in 1957 to obstruct desegregation at Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower federalized the Guard and called in the 101st Airborne in response. The failure to do so, he said, “would be tantamount to acquiescence in anarchy.”
President George H.W. Bush ordered the Army’s Seventh Infantry and 1,500 Marines to protect Los Angeles during race riots in 1992.
Public opinion is on the side of law enforcement and law and order, not insurrectionists.
According to a recent poll, 58 percent of registered voters, including nearly half of Democrats and 37 percent of African-Americans, would support cities’ calling in the military to “address protests and demonstrations” that are in “response to the death of George Floyd.”
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