While Americans Die Of COVID, Tom Cotton Gave A 15-Minute Rant About Honoring Pilgrims

Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images.
COVID-19 cases surge across the country and experts worry the upcoming holidays will be catastrophic for the spread of the virus. So, it seems like an opportune time for Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton to tell Americans about the importance of “honoring” the Pilgrims this Thanksgiving. “This year we ought to be especially thankful for our ancestors, the pilgrims, on their 400th anniversary,” the GOP Congressman said in a speech on Wednesday. “Sadly, however, there appear to be few commemorations, parades or festivals to celebrate the Pilgrims this year.” 
If you thought Cotton was going to use this line to segue into talking about the need for Americans to cancel their travel and large family gatherings this year in order to save lives, you obviously are not familiar with the likes of Sen. Tom Cotton. According to him, the lack of celebrations in 2020 is not due to the pandemic that has killed nearly a quarter of a million Americans and counting, but a result of the “revisionist charlatans of the radical left” who want to “rewrite” American history to mark 1619 — the year the first enslaved African arrived in Virginia — as the year the U.S. began. He says that this is happening in order to replace celebrations of 1620 — the date the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
“Just today for instance The New York Times called the story a myth and a caricature. In the Food Section, no less,” Cotton lamented. “Maybe the politically correct editors of the debunked 1619 Project are now responsible for pumpkin pie recipes at the Times as well." Cotton was referring to a piece the Times ran about using the racial justice uprisings of the summer and the COVID-19 pandemic as the catalyst for re-examining the Thanksgiving holiday, one that is rooted in a colonial and genocidal history.
Cotton’s speech about the need to honor the Pilgrims as founders of the U.S. and his outrage at the story of the first Thanksgiving being a myth is propaganda of the same sort that kids all over the country have been taught for years — something Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar referred to as a "sense of history [that] doesn’t go beyond your 3rd grade coloring books." But if Cotton had any interest in engaging with history in good faith, he would see that the Thanksgiving story Americans are taught did not actually happen that way.
While there was, in fact, a feast that occurred between the settlers and the Wampanoag people in 1621, “the whole story about what occurred on that first Thanksgiving was a myth created to make white people feel comfortable," Linda Coombs, a Wampanoag historian and a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), told the Times. This is something that most Americans have come to understand.
“The Wampanoags had a history several thousands of years old before the English arrived, and that history shaped who they were, how they responded to other people, their connections to the land, and fundamentally shaped the history of English colonization and Indian response in southern New England,” said David J. Silverman, author of This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving to Salon. “Native people, and the Wampanoags in particular, have struggled with colonialism throughout the centuries, and how this myth of the first Thanksgiving and of Native consent to colonization just hangs around their necks like a millstone.”
Cotton's nod to honor pilgrims — especially at a time when disease is running rampant in America — is particularly gross and troubleseome. But this is, of course, not his first time being deplorable — nor is it his first time going after the Times. He’s taken shots at the paper in the past after Opinion editor James Bennett resigned for publishing Cotton’s op-ed calling for the state to take up arms against citizens ran in the paper. He also criticized the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” that examined the legacy and impact of slavery on the history of the U.S. and tried to have it blocked from being taught at schools.
Cotton also couldn’t resist taking another shot at it during his Thanksgiving speech. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the “1619 Project,” responded on Twitter by putting the focus back where it belongs: “250,000 Americans dead but I’m glad your priority is the NYT food section,” she tweeted.
Cotton has proven himself to be an unreliable orator of history many times over. So perhaps, instead of celebrating the Pilgrims as heroes on the 200th anniversary of their landing at Plymouth Rock, he promotes and acknowledges the Indigenous Day of Mourning instead.

More from US News

R29 Original Series