Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is facing fierce backlash after he said slavery was a "necessary evil." His comments came while speaking with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette regarding a bill he is introducing that seeks to cut federal funding for any school that includes The New York Times' 1619 Project, which examines the history of slavery in the nation and its role in the country's founding, in its curriculum.
Discussing the bill, called the Saving American History Act of 2020, Cotton said that "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." He then went on to discuss how the Founding Fathers viewed slavery, stating, "As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built" and that the "union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction."
His remarks were immediately met with backlash, with Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times correspondent who won the Pulitzer Prize for her essay in The 1619 Project, stating that his comments on slavery, "where it was legal to rape, torture and sell human beings for profit," make it "hard to imagine what cannot be justified if it is a means to an end." Cotton hit back by stating that he was not "justifying or endorsing slavery."
Although Cotton, in multiple tweets, defended himself by clarifying that he was "describing the views" of the Founding Fathers, the backlash did not stop rolling in. Across social media, people slammed Cotton's remarks, many pointing out that his direct quote was "as the Founding Fathers said." Keep scrolling to see what they are saying.
Tom Cotton saying that slavery was a "necessary evil" sounds a helluva lot like Nazis who justified their heinous crimes by saying "I was just following orders."
Evil is NEVER necessary.— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) July 26, 2020
We CANNOT let @TomCottonAR get away with calling slavery a "necessary evil."
We need to make this a massive issue today, tomorrow and beyond.
DO NOT let this racist off the hook. https://t.co/CrWlt2NPHw— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) July 26, 2020
No. This is a lie.
You did not say "The Founders viewed..."
You said: "As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil"
You endorsed -- not described -- their perceived view. https://t.co/bU0QFxC43T— Zac Petkanas (@Zac_Petkanas) July 27, 2020
Tom Cotton said slavery was a "necessary evil." Congratulations, Republicans. This is what you have become.— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) July 26, 2020
It's easy for Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) to call slavery a "necessary evil." The evil wasn't done to people like him. It was done to kidnapped African people for hundreds of years and was followed by 100+ years of lynching, theft, massacres and denial of basic human rights. https://t.co/oqcxbzSajG— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 27, 2020
Tom Cotton refuses to believe that the United States is "a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable," his words—yet in an interview, he unmistakably agrees with those Founders who said slavery was "a necessary evil." How does that work? https://t.co/983NSIvXEz— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) July 26, 2020
Senator Tom Cotton should be forced to feel what slaves felt for one week and see if he still thinks it was a "necessary evil". We better clean house in November because we are literally swirling down the fucking drain.— 🌎🌊 Death Row Tull 🌊🌏🆘 (@dukewindsor388) July 27, 2020
if ilhan omar had gotten a mile within saying the holocaust was a "necessary evil" she would've been destroyed so quick you wouldn't have even noticed, but tom cotton actually saying slavery was a necessary evil will be forgotten within 48 hours. right-wing white privilege— ☀️👀 (@zei_squirrel) July 27, 2020
Tom. Cotton. Is. A. Racist.— I Smoked A Person Woman Man Camera And TV (@DKnight10000) July 27, 2020
Republican Senator Tom Cotton calls slavery “the necessary evil upon which the union was built."
This, my friends, is today's GOP.
Make sure they lose control of the Senate on November 3.
In fact, make sure they lose control of everything.
They've lost the right to govern.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 27, 2020
In my mind Tom Cotton probably thinks of slavery as a necessary evil.
So it turns out I was wrong. About the probably part.— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) July 27, 2020
Tom Cotton and his ilk think criticizing America for a history of anti-Blackness is America hatred while preserving & worshipping Confederate statues as a perverse form of patriotism is a problem we have to address. The narrative is more sinister than you think.— Michael W. Twitty (@KosherSoul) July 27, 2020
Tom Cotton issuing a public statement claiming slavery was a "necessary evil" is exactly why The 1619 Project is so important, why our votes are so important -- because white supremacy, in all its genocide and other horrors, is excused away as "necessary".— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) July 26, 2020
There are 3 reasons I endorsed @DanWhitCongress last month:
1) He's an awesome individual, comes from a working-class background, has a good grasp on technology, is an Independent, and has a platform as awesome as he is.— 🇺🇸 Jon Munitz 🇺 (@JonMunitz) July 27, 2020
2) His opponent is Tom Cotton
3) He can beat Tom Cotton.