Washington: A Republican Senator for Arkansas has described slavery as a “necessary evil” on which the American nation was built, the media reported on Monday. But Senator Tom Cotton tried to clarify that he was only referring to “the Founders who viewed slavery as a necessary evil”.
The BBC had quoted the Senator, considered a presidential candidate in 2024, as saying in an interview to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper on Sunday, “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 (Abraham) Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”
Cotton told the newspaper that he rejected the idea that the US was a systemically racist country to its core, adding that he was introducing legislation to ban federal funds for a project by the New York Times newspaper, aimed at revising the historical view of slavery.
On July 23, Senator Cotton introduced the Saving American History Act, aimed at stopping funding for ‘1619’, the initiative which bases US history teaching around the first arrivals of slave ships in the US in August of that year.
The project won the Pulitzer prize for commentary for its founder, the New York Times journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones.
Responding to Senator Cotton’s legislation, Hannah-Jones tweeted that if slavery was justified as a means to an end, anything else could be too. Cotton has been a strong critic of the nationwide anti-racism protests, describing them in an opinion piece for the New York Times as an “orgy of violence”.
The development comes amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minnesota in May which has sparked huge protests across the US against police brutality and racism, said the BBC report.