"As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built." That's how Sen. Tom Cotton described slavery in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Friday. The Republican was speaking out against the 1619 Project, a New York Times-based curriculum examining the history of slavery in the US. Cotton has introduced a bill that would reduce federal funding for any school that uses it, the Hill reports, but he's now facing criticism for his comments on it. In context:
- "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."
Cotton also said that the US should not be portrayed as "an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country," but "as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind." He added, "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." A director of the project was among those criticizing Cotton, but Cotton's response to her got retweeted by the president himself: "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." (Read more Tom Cotton stories.)