In a recent interview, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., made the argument that America’s founders saw slavery as a “necessary evil” in the establishment of the country.
His remarks came as part of an overall argument against promoting The New York Times’ 1619 Project in America’s classrooms.
“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 said. “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.”
Among those who instantly denounced his comments was 1619 Project Director Nikole Hannah-Jones, who wrote that 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 [Cotton] says, it’s hard to imagine what cannot be justified if it is a means to an end.”
Cotton reacted by asserting he was merely restating the “views of the Founders” and was not “justifying slavery.” Donald Trump retweeted his ardent supporter’s claims.