Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on July 26 that the enslavement of millions of African people in the U.S. was “the necessary evil upon which the union was built.”
Cotton also attacked the New York Times’ 1619 Project, is a historical project that accurately portrays slavery as evil, beginning in August 1619 with the arrival of slave ships on American shores for the first time:
The entire premise of the New York Times’ factually, historically flawed 1619 Project … is that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable.
I reject that root and branch. America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal. We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it.
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 [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.
Cotton’s Saving American History Act of 2020 bill and “would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project by K-12 schools or school districts.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for her introductory essay to the 1619 Project, fired back at Cotton’s whitewashing of history on Twitter.
If chattel slavery — heritable, generational, permanent, race-based slavery where it was legal to rape, torture, and sell human beings for profit — were a “necessary evil” as @TomCottonAR says, it’s hard to imagine what cannot be justified if it is a means to an end. https://t.co/yScNxPq6ds— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) July 26, 2020
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said on July 27 that Cotton’s defense of slavery would hurt the Republicans in November’s election:
This blatant racism is devastating and self-defeating not only to Donald Trump’s election chances, but also to a lot of the Republican senators in Arizona and North Carolina.