Cotton and Hawley: Send in the National Guard to Columbia

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley called on President Joe Biden to send the National Guard to Columbia University as pro-Palestinian demonstrations that saw over 100 people arrested last week roil the campus.

The senators issued the appeal for federal action as Monday marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Over the weekend, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the Upper Manhattan campus amid heated protests, and Columbia University announced on Monday that it would hold classes remotely.

Cotton (R-Ark.) blamed Democrats for the protests in a social media post Monday morning, writing that “the radical anti-Israel protestors have always been part of the Democratic Party’s base.”

“The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight,” Cotton wrote on X. “If Eric Adams won’t send the NYPD and Kathy Hochul won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs.”

Cotton’s calls for sending the National Guard to the college campus are reminiscent of when the Arkansas Republican penned an op-ed in The New York Times nearly four years ago pushing for the use of military force against thousands of people who protested police brutality across the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. The 2020 opinion piece sparked an immediate backlash from readers and employees at the newspaper and led to the resignation of James Bennet, the Times’ editorial page editor, and a lengthy editor’s note atop the piece stating that it “fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”

Under the Insurrection Act, a president can federalize the National Guard if a state requests so, to enforce a federal law or to protect civil rights.

Hawley (R-Mo.) in his own post brought up President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1957 order for the National Guard to protect the “Little Rock Nine” in Arkansas after the Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate schools.

“Eisenhower sent the 101st to Little Rock. It’s time for Biden to call out the National Guard at our universities to protect Jewish Americans,” Hawley said on X Monday.

Anti-Defamation League Director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also suggested that the National Guard should be deployed to campus and said that action from local and federal officials should be taken “before it’s too late.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democratic Reps. Jared Moskowitz of Florida, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Dan Goldman of New York walked through the Columbia University campus and held a press conference on Monday urging Columbia President Minouche Shafik to protect its students. Republican New York Reps. Mike Lawler and Anthony D’Esposito also spoke outside of the campus calling on Shafik to resign.

In a statement on Sunday tied to the upcoming holiday, Biden said that “we must speak out against the alarming surge of Antisemitism – in our schools, communities, and online.”

“Silence is complicity,” Biden’s statement read. “Even in recent days, we’ve seen harassment and calls for violence against Jews. This blatant Antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous — and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country.”

Harry Byrne

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