Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) referred to slavery as a “necessary evil” in arguing against use of The New York Times’ 1619 Project in the classroom. Cotton introduced a bill last week that would cut funding to schools that adopt a curriculum based on the prize-winning special issue of the Times’ magazine. In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cotton said he rejects the premise “that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable” but agrees history taught in schools should include the role of slavery.
“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,” he said. He added that the U.S. should be viewed “as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind.”