Readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing, not because it’s worth taking seriously but because it is being taken seriously, particularly by our mad and decomposing president. [...] In the past, The Times’s Op-Ed page has offered space to enemies of the United States, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Sirajuddin Haqqani, deputy leader of the Taliban, arguing that its readers are served by access to their perspectives.
I’ve started to doubt my debating-club approach to the question of when to air proto-fascist opinions. Putin and Haqqani, after all, weren’t given space in this newspaper to advocate attacks on Americans during moments of national extremis. Cotton, by contrast, is calling for what would almost certainly amount to massive violence against his fellow citizens: an “overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.”
It’s important to understand what the people around the president are thinking. But if they’re honest about what they’re thinking, it’s usually too disgusting to engage with. This creates a crisis for traditional understandings of how the so-called marketplace of ideas functions. It’s a subsidiary of the crisis that has the country on fire.
It's a difficult decision to make: on the one hand, Cotton's op-ed is horrible; on the other, having it out there in plain words makes it obvious just how fascist many of our politicians are. He's saying the quiet part out loud, which makes it a lot easier for skeptics to hear.
It'd be one thing if Cotton was just some guy wanting to publish a screed in the Times, but as he holds significant political power, perhaps it's better if we're able to understand him just as he wants to be understood. It's one thing to not give fascists a platform; it's another thing entirely to keep the US government from clearly saying "yes, we're fascist".