Apparently, Tom Cotton Doesn’t Want Kids To Learn About Slavery

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton is doing everything in his power to stop the realities of slavery in the U.S. from being taught in schools. Cotton proposed the Saving American History Act of 2020 legislation on July 23, declaring that any school in the country that decided to incorporate The New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project into its curriculum should lose federal funding. Spearheaded by Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones in 2019, the ongoing project looks at the United States’ founding as 1619, when the first African slaves were brought over from their home countries, instead of 1776, considered the country’s founding year by the Founding Fathers.
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“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,” Cotton told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Friday, doubling down on his insistence that the realities of slavery not be taught to children. “I reject that root and branch. America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal.” In quoting the Founding Fathers, Cotton then referred to slavery as a “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.”
The 1619 Project, which explores the timeline of American slavery, from its early days to its lasting effects though print essays, poetry, and photo essays, has been lauded since its publication last August. Hannah-Jones even won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work. While some of its individual claims have been challenged by historians, overall it presents a necessary picture of our country as being rooted in slavery and the brutalization of Black Americans. The fact that Cotton has been bending over backwards to discredit her work and stifle the opportunity teachers have to educate students about the very real origins of the U.S. speaks volumes to his character. That character has been rightfully questioned as racist in the very recent past, thanks to Cotton’s New York Times op-ed calling for the military to take action against anti-police violence protesters and comparing Portland protesters to members of the Confederate Army.
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Hannah-Jones challenged Cotton’s push to omit the truth about slavery and insults about her work, leading to a back and forth between the two on Sunday. “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,” she tweeted in response to the news of Cotton’s proposal.
Cotton doubled down on his use of the phrase “necessary evil” being one originally said by the Founding Fathers, stating that "Describing the *views of the Founders* and how they put the evil institution on a path to extinction, a point frequently made by Lincoln, is not endorsing or justifying slavery. No surprise that the 1619 Project can't get facts right."
Even if he were just *quoting* the *views of the Founders*, it's quite clear what Cotton's intent is: To erase the teaching of a historical reality which is more necessary to examine than ever in these times of upheaval.

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