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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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It’s a hell of a send-off for a man who had been one of last of the great fighters for civil rights and so revered for so long that he was known as the “conscience of the Congress.”
In the midst of all the memorials for Rep John Lewis (D-Ga), who died July 17 at age 80, after a battle with cancer, Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) opened his ill-informed mouth to call the American participation in chattel slavery a “necessary evil upon which the union was built.“
If he were alive, Lewis–who nearly died in the beating he took leading the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery over the Edmund Pettus Bridge–would surely cringe.
Cotton’s reason to raise such a moronic topic was to criticize the new “1619 curriculum,” one which simply reframes US history to better acknowledge the role of slaves and slavery.
The curriculum was designed by a Pulitzer Prize-winner, and it’s iffy at best whether Cotton could have legitimate complaints about it.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that he could. Is now–right as the nation pays its respects and says goodbye to a civil rights giant like Lewis–really the most appropriate time to raise those concerns? Nevermind make remarks that make Cotton an apologist for chattel slavery and puts himself in the same camp as white supremacists?
Of course not.
Fortunately, the response to Cotton’s clear historical ignorance and racial insensitivity was hard and swift.
Typical of the response was the excellent tweet by Rep Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), a member of the House leadership team: “Slavery was NOT a necessary evil. It was a Crime Against Humanity. History. Lesson. Over.”
A quick fact check for Senator Tom Cotton.
Slavery was NOT a necessary evil.
It was a Crime Against Humanity.
History. Lesson. Over. pic.twitter.com/4GW8H9YrsH
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) July 27, 2020
Clearly, Tom Cotton has come to the point where he must learn to keep his mouth shut on what can only be described as a panoply of subjects on which he is intellectually vacant.
But more than that, as a public servant ostensibly charged with representing the entire state of Arkansas, Cotton has some real thinking to do: How can a clear racist like Tom Cotton honestly say that he will represent the entire state, including Arkansas’ black population?
Perhaps the real answer is it’s time for Tom Cotton to step aside and allow for a senator ready for the 21st century to step up.
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