Sen. Tom Cotton, who was quoted earlier this week in Politico as saying he saw no systemic racism in the criminal justice system has begun singing a different tune.
From Politico earlier this week:
“No, I do not think you can paint with a broad brush and say there’s systemic racism in the criminal justice system in America. Can there be inequality? Can there be injustices in particular cases? Yes, there can be. But I do not think you can, nor should you, paint with such a broad brush.”
From a Tweet today by a Politico writer on his remarks at a closed meeting of Senate Republicans:
NEW. INSIDE Senate GOP lunch today, @TomCottonAR stood up & said:
Young black men have a very different experience with law enforcement in this nation than white people and that’s their impression and experience and we need to be sensitive to that and do all we can to change it
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 9, 2020
That led Politico’s Tim Alberta to weigh in:
One week ago, Cotton told me: “No, I do not think you can paint with a broad brush and say there’s systemic racism in the criminal justice system in America.”
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) June 9, 2020
Yeah, Republicans are trying to rework their narrative. Beating up peaceful protesters of all colors isn’t a good look except to the dedicated “law and order” crowd. Even the racists know there’s racism in America. It got Donald Trump elected, along with a healthy dose of misogyny.
But the Republicans are trying. Now they are going to try to blend their years of racism with sympathy for George Floyd. Hard to see how they can make that work. Consider some Republican favorites:
Qualified immunity for brutal cops. Suppression of black voters. End of the Voting Rights Act. Opposition to affirmative action. And now they care about George Floyd? Mitch McConnell? Tom Cotton? It wasn’t many hours ago that Cotton disputed the existence of systemic racism in a world overpopulated with blacks in prison, blacks leading the suspension rates in schools, blacks treated worse for crack cocaine than rich whites with powder cocaine, the disproportional racial imposition of the death penalty. Please.
Tom Cotton’s honesty quotient hasn’t gotten any better, either. Get a load of the resolution he’s proposed with the likes of Ted Cruz and McConnell.
First, the resolution is called Justice for George Floyd. It offers none for him except to note police have been charged in his death. His reported interest in being sensitive to black people and changing things is nothing but more police law and order posturing.
It’sabout scoring points on the latest Republican talking point — misrepresenting the idea of “defunding the police.” (It’s a phrase that needs reworking for PR purposes no doubt.)
Cotton makes no pretense of knowing or caring what it means. It means many things to many people. To a very few it does mean shutting down or crippling police departments. Very few. It DOES often mean demilitarizing police. (How does Tom feel about no-knock raids complete with helmeted officers with big guns and explosive devices going after minor pot dealers?) It does often mean more emphasis on community policing and community betterment rather than supporting a zookeeper approach to law enforcement. Even Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a former high-ranking federal law enforcement official, grudgingly conceded today it was “fair” to talk about HOW money was spent on police.
There isn’t a solid proposition on the table to “defund” the police, but the dishonest Cotton resolution says flatly — whatever it is — that it will understaff and undertrain police officers and thus increase the risk of use of unjustifiable force and create violence.
Right. We already know that studies sho police force begets more violence. The evidence is abundant thanks to tools the police hate — cellphones, body cameras and automatic voice recorders. Together they repeatedly show that police have been getting away with murder for years. And, despite that evidence, they often still do.
This resolution carries not a word about a different approach to law enforcement. It just promotes the militaristic status quo. Extreme force. No quarter. That’s what Tom Cotton wants.
Anyone who says his statements today suggest Tom Cotton has suddenly grown a heart? Fake news.
They don’t want you to see these events as they are — largely a sign of people exercising their fundamental rights in our democracy, with mostly peaceful protests registering profound and legitimate abhorrence at continued systemic racism and police violence, and demanding reform. They want you to see the protesters, not police brutality, as the real threat.
They’re losing the argument, as a new batch of polls confirms. How and why they’re losing it sheds light on the ugly reality of what they’re really trying to accomplish, and on why it’s heartening that it’s failing.
One other point: Police have a tough job. They must make split-second decisions in perilous circumstances. They can be injured, both physically and mentally by the work they do. In 2019, Cotton noted, 89 local, state, federal and tribal officers were killed in the line of duty. He could have mentioned the Washington Post tallies that show police kill about 1,000 people a year, 5,400 since 2015 with 2020 on track with 463, including George Floyd, by June 7.