The outrage over The New York Times' decision to publish an op-ed in which Sen. Tom Cotton called for the military to quell violent uprisings over George Floyd's death exposed the hypocrisy of "woke progressives" who "claim to defend liberal values," Cotton said Thursday.
In an interview on "America's Newsroom," the Arkansas Republican said hyperbolic reactions to his piece -- including from numerous Times employees -- revealed that liberal progressives will "go into meltdown," "demand censorship," "refer to words as violence," and "call for firings at their newspaper" at the drop of a hat.
"I will commend The New York Times leadership," he conceded. "You know, we obviously don't agree on very much. But, in this case, they ran my opinion piece with which they disagreed. And, they’ve stood up to the 'woke progressive mob' in their own newsroom. So, I commend them for that."
Cotton's op-ed called on the president to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 in order to protect communities from "nihilist criminals" rioting after Floyd's death.
"These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives," he said. "Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further. One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain, and ultimately deter lawbreakers."
"This venerable law, nearly as old as our republic itself, doesn’t amount to 'martial law' or the end of democracy, as some excitable critics, ignorant of both the law and our history, have comically suggested," Cotton wrote. "In fact, the federal government has a constitutional duty to the states to 'protect each of them from domestic violence.' Throughout our history, presidents have exercised this authority on dozens of occasions to protect law-abiding citizens from disorder."
As of Thursday morning, 32,400 members of the National Guard had been activated due to civil unrest -- a sizeable jump from 20,400 just a few days ago.
"But, the bottom line is, on a four-to-one measure Americans support using the National Guard to put down riots and looters. By a two-to-one measure, they support using the active-duty troops if necessary," Cotton explained to Smith and Henry.
"That’s the simple case [that] I made in this op-ed. That there is both a legal basis and long historical precedent for using our National Guard and, if necessary, federal troops to put down domestic violence."
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"And, in fact, it is the constitutional duty of the federal government to protect the states from this kind of insurrection violence," he added. "It happened in 1957 at Little Rock Central to desegregate against our racist Democratic governor. It happened in 1968 in Washington D.C., in Baltimore and Chicago. It happened in 1992 in Los Angeles."
"These woke progressives have not engaged with any of these arguments or these historic examples. They are simply throwing a temper tantrum."
Fox News' Samuel Dorman contributed to this report.