No, Tom Cotton did not say he thinks slavery was a necessary evil, he calls out ‘fake news’

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U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is responding forcefully to accusations that he somehow personally believes slavery was a necessary evil when he was actually alluding to the thought process of Founding Fathers.

Cotton (R-Ark.) has come under the left’s microscope because he has introduced a bill called the “Saving American History Act of 2020” that would prevent federal funds from being used by public schools to implement the New York Times’ dubious “1619 Project.”

In the divisive and unreliable school curriculum that the Times wants to spread far and wide, 1619 refers to the year that slaves first arrived in the colonies. The premise by the authors is that 1619, not 1776, was thus the year of America’s founding.

This is the full quote from Cotton’s interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

“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.”

Taking to Twitter, Cotton — a Harvard Law School graduate and a combat veteran of the U.S. Army — described the allegations against him as “fake news.”

“More lies from the debunked 1619 Project. 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.”

He added that “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.”

The Washington Examiner came to Cotton’s defense:

“Words mean things, yes, but even more importantly, so do syntax, sentence structure, and context. Misreading his initial statement is forgivable, sure, although it does raise questions of the reader’s competence, but to continue to promulgate this falsehood that Cotton personally believes slavery was a necessary evil is outright political activism masquerading as mere journalistic malpractice.

“Gripe with Cotton’s policies or even his opposition to the 1619 Project, but he is owed an apology and a correction from the absolute dregs of journalism continuing to smear him with a lie.”

In the interview, Cotton also described the curriculum as “left-wing propaganda. It’s revisionist history at its worst…The New York Times should not be teaching American history to our kids.” While the amount of taxpayer money potentially withheld could be relatively small, Cotton declared that “even a penny is too much to go to the 1619 Project in our public schools.”

Local school boards could still adopt the 1619 Project, he noted, which he deemed “anti-American rot.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the principal author of the 1619 Project, previously conceded that the material paints America with too broad a brush, although she downplayed the clarification. In March, she wrote that “Yesterday we made an important clarification to my #1619Project essay [about] the colonists’ motivations during the American Revolution. In attempting to summarize and streamline, journalists can sometimes lose important context and nuance. I did that here. 

“The clarification is small — just two words –but important. We add [that] slavery was one of the primary motivations for ‘some of’ the colonists to declare independence. As written, it appears that I am saying this was a universal motivation of ALL colonists. I wasn’t clear enough.”

At the time that this correction was promulgated, The Federalist insisted that the entire project should be scrapped or fully vetted for historical accuracy.

“It is hard to overstate just how massively this correction undermines the entire project…And the motivation for revolution is not the only error that has been found.

“Even without massive factual errors, it was foolish to imagine that a bunch of op-ed writers were capable of creating a new version of American history with which to indoctrinate American students…No school should use these materials in any capacity unless and until they are adjusted to take in the concerns of people who actually know what they are talking about. That is very unlikely to happen, so the best and most responsible way forward is not to teach the 1619 Project at all.”


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