Sen. Tom Cotton’s critics are giving him a history lesson on Twitter.
The Arkansas Republican spent 10 minutes on Wednesday talking about the Pilgrims who first settled in Plymouth, Mass., in 1620, and blasted “revisionist charlatans of the radical left” for failing to properly mark the 400th anniversary of the ship, the Mayflower, carrying the colonizers into Cape Cod.
“Regrettably, we haven’t heard much about this anniversary of the Mayflower. I suppose the Pilgrims have fallen out of favor in fashionable circles these days,” he said in a clip that went viral on Twitter.
‘There appear to be few commemorations, parades or festivals to celebrate the Pilgrims this year, perhaps in part because revisionist charlatans of the radical left have previously claimed the previous year as America’s true founding.’
Sen. Tom Cotton
Cotton was referring to the 1619 Project developed by the New York Times Magazine last year, which “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of [the U.S.’s] national narrative.” Native Americans were already living in North America before the Pilgrims arrived, of course. What’s more, the 1619 Project names its titular year as the time when America was truly founded because a ship arrived in Virginia in 1619 with about 30 enslaved Africans on board.
Cotton was also upset by a New York Times piece published this week that delved into the “Thanksgiving myth,” joining the articles that have debunked the cherished grade-school tale of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sealing their friendship by sharing a harvest feast together. The Times article instead discusses the “brutality of settlers’ expansion into the Great Plains and American West,” and the generational suffering of the Native Americans.
Cotton said, “Just today for instance the New York Times called the [Pilgrims’] story a myth and a caricature. In the ‘Food’ section, no less. Maybe the politically correct editors of the debunked 1619 Project are now responsible for pumpkin-pie recipes at the Times as well.”
Watch him here:
His roughly 10-minute video clip went viral, with critics including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) mocking him as possessed of a sense of history that “doesn’t go beyond your 3rd grade coloring books.”
Others argued his remarks were tone-deaf on a day when the U.S. death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic passed a quarter of a million.
This isn’t Cotton’s first brush with controversy. He proposed a bill in July to ban schools from teaching the 1619 Project as part of their curriculums, arguing that the project was wrong in calling America a “systemically racist country.” He was slammed at the time — particularly being quoted calling slavery a “necessary evil,” although he countered that his remarks were taken out of context.
He also drew criticism over the summer for a New York Times op-ed headlined “Send In the Troops,” in which he called for “an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers” and stop an “orgy of violence,” as he characterized the long-running protests, only occasionally turning violent, across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Times staffers revolted over the paper’s decision to publish Cotton’s column, with dozens of reporters, columnists, editors and producers tweeting: “Running this puts black @nytimes staff in danger.” The Times later said that it had made a mistake in publishing the Cotton column, and opinion-page editor James Bennet resigned.