Opinion | Tom Cotton’s Whitewashing

“Anarchy, rioting and looting needs to end tonight. If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division. We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction,” he tweeted.

That awful tweet was followed by one even more heinous: “And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry — whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters and looters.”

Many flabbergasted legal experts quickly responded on Twitter, including the lawyer and journalist David French, who tweeted correctly that “a no quarter order is a war crime, prohibited even in actual insurrection since Abraham Lincoln’s signed the Lieber Code in 1863. Such an order is banned by international law and would, if carried out, be murder under American law.”

Of course, Mr. Cotton tried to teargaslight Twitter with the assertion that it was not what he meant.

“Definition of ‘no quarter’: If you say that someone was given no quarter, you mean that they were not treated kindly by someone who had power or control over them.”

Not treated kindly? I assume Mr. Cotton will continue to play these kinds of dangerous games, part of his silly proclivity to take meaningless gotcha dunks against his critics. But, for you digital civilians, it’s a classic Twitter feint to say you did not say what you did say. While it is always vexing to see, even more irritating was Mr. Cotton’s ability to remove the appalling digital troll costume he’d worn on Twitter and don a whitewashed version of it for The Times.

Yes, I said whitewashed, which is why someone at the big and highly curated opinion platforms needs to figure out what to do about the many different opinions that appear all over the now impossibly fractured internet.

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