This might sound strange, but this week I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about a news item I didn’t really care about. Or, more precisely, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I didn’t care about it. I’m talking about the controversy that erupted when the New York Times published Tom Cotton’s op-ed, “Send in the Troops.” The controversy consumed journalism for days. Online it completely swallowed the news of Gen. James Mattis’s statement of opposition to Trump. On Twitter, the debate competed with news of massive national protests for virtual airtime.
Yet aside from my concern for friends at the Times—such as Bari Weiss, who has been repeatedly and unfairly attacked—I had a hard time caring about the turmoil, or of seeing it as particularly significant in the context of the moment. In fact, days later, I’m still a bit bored. And I’ve finally figured out why. To borrow a medical analogy, when a man is wounded, you treat the worst conditions first (if you ever want to learn about combat lifesaver methodology, look up the acronym MARCH), and the spasm of outrage at the Times was one of the least important events of the last two weeks.
Consider the following events that occurred in the days and hours before the Times published Cotton’s op-ed:
1. The president of the United States threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act over the objection of governors and mayors to deploy troops under his command into the nation’s streets.