Did Tom Cotton really call slavery a 'necessary evil'? The truth is in the context, but fury still grows

Tom Cotton calling slavery 'necessary evil upon which the union was built' has lead to a frenzy on social media with people either slamming him or defending his words


                            Did Tom Cotton really call slavery a 'necessary evil'? The truth is in the context, but fury still grows
Tom Cotton (Getty Images)
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After Tom Cotton, a sitting United States senator said that enslaving black people was a "necessary evil upon which the union was built", in an interview on July 24, the senator’s comments are considered highly refutable and prone to different interpretations. To clarify on his comments he tweeted, "This is the definition of fake news. I said that *the Founders viewed slavery as a necessary evil* and described how they put the evil institution on the path to extinction, a point frequently made by Lincoln."

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Though he clarified, people are still finding his quote contestable. While some support him, others are slamming the possible future candidate for the presidential elections. "Here's the exact quote from Tom Cotton: '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'," tweeted a journalist from The Daily Beast.

Robert Reich, economist and political commentator, took to Twitter to write, "Republican Senator Tom Cotton calls slavery 'the necessary evil upon which the union was built'. This, my friends, is today's GOP. Make sure they lose control of the Senate on November 3. In fact, make sure they lose control of everything. They've lost the right to govern."

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Wajahat Ali, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times wrote on Twitter, "Tom Cotton said slavery was a 'necessary evil'. Congratulations, Republicans. This is what you have become." He also shared a screenshot on Twitter that fully mentions Tom’s comments where the senator said that the role of slavery can’t be overlooked. "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.

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Instead of portraying America as "an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country," the nation should be viewed "as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind," Cotton said. Ali also mentioned how Cotton "is threatening to withhold funds from schools that teach the 1619 Project". He tweeted, "This is his priority during a deadly pandemic and crippling recession. Tells you everything about him."

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His comments are subjected to many interpretations as witnessed among people divided over the internet. "Tom Cotton saying that slavery was a 'necessary evil' sounds a helluva lot like Nazis who justified their heinous crimes by saying 'I was just following orders. Evil is NEVER necessary'," tweeted an enraged Twitter user slamming him. 

While some people tweeted that slavery was the root of many social evils in America, others tweeted that maybe people are misinterpreting his comments. "Saying slavery is a necessity means Tom Cotton also thinks child sex breeding is a necessary evil. BC that's the darker part of slavery ppl fail to mention. Underage Black kids being forced to have sex for breeding purposes. Like livestock."

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"As much as I hate Cotton, I read the article and you might be taking his words out of context. He said the Founding Fathers felt slavery was a necessary evil. Didn't they? Cotton is also why we should look at the ugly side of America but also we should fairly look at the good too," tweeted one. "At no point is slavery morally acceptable. He's saying the Founding Fathers said it was. And tacitly he agrees with them. More to the point, he's saying now we needn't discuss it and let's just stick with the amoral mythology."
 
His comments are so contestable in the context of racism and history of America’s tryst with slavery that people can’t decide whether to blame Republicans or Democrats for promoting slavery. "Odd coming from a Republican Senator when the Republicans freed the slaves. It was the Southern Democrats that wanted to keep slavery intact. The Southern Democrats also wanted to keep Jim Crow intact," said a Twitter user. 

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His comments, a few months before the US presidential elections, have further given fodder to people to talk about which party they must vote for. "And we all know there was a switch at some point. If you regret segregation today, everyone knows which party you should vote for," said a Twitter user.

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