In a new interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Senator Tom Cotton stated that slavery was the “necessary evil upon which the union was built”.
What We Know:
- The comment came when defending his new proposed bill, the Saving American History Act of 2020, which aims to prevent school districts from utilizing the 1619 Project’s associated curriculum by withholding certain federal funding.
- Cotton stated, “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”
- Cotton’s aim is to reframe the history of slavery, rather than viewing America as “an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country”. He hopes to show it “as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind”.
- Senator Cotton referred to the 1619 Project as factually and historically flawed. “The entire premise… is that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable. I reject that root and branch,” Cotton stated on Friday.
- When his comments were met with claims of justifying slavery, Senator Cotton took to Twitter to clarify. In response to a tweet from the publisher of the Political Wire, Teagan Goddard, Cotton wrote:
This is the definition of fake news.
I said that *the Founders viewed slavery as a necessary evil* and described how they put the evil institution on the path to extinction, a point frequently made by Lincoln. https://t.co/SaWTTlMO7w
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) July 26, 2020
- Senator Cotton also drew criticism earlier this summer after publishing an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Send in the Troops”. In the piece he encouraged involvement of federal troops to quiet what he referred to as the “orgy of violence,” following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. James Bennet, the page editor for editorials for the Times, resigned in June after the piece ran.
Senator Cotton is up for reelection this November against Libertarian candidate and Christian missionary Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.