Tom Cotton Compares Portland Protesters To Confederacy, Immediately Defends Their Future Statues


Republicans like to describe themselves as the Party of Lincoln, but Honest Abe never actually wanted a Civil War. Tom Cotton, however, is desperate for one. He published a manifesto in the New York Times last month arguing that federal troops should invade cities and trample on citizens' First Amendment rights. Just call it a “riot" and you can shred the Constitution.

Cotton appeared on "Fox & Friends" this morning and, naturally, defended Donald Trump's invasion of Portland. That wasn't shocking, but I confess some surprise when he compared Portland protesters to Confederate traitors. As a current Oregon resident, I would remind the senator from Arkansas that his state seceded from the Union, not ours.

Cotton claimed that “these insurrectionists in the streets of Portland are little different from the insurrectionists who seceded from the Union in 1861 in South Carolina and tried to take over Fort Sumter." Is Tom Cotton against the Confederacy now? Because that would be news.

It's a given that everything Cotton said is bullshit. We'll debunk his nonsense with both observable current reality and easily researched history.

First place, this was the scene in Portland last night.

That's a Coke commercial, not Gone With the Wind. Yes, the scene grew more tense around the federal courthouse, thanks to Trump's goons, but words have meanings: Vandalism, even rioting and looting, are not synonymous with “insurrection," which traditionally is defined as an organized attempt to take control from the government. For instance, gang members setting fire to a police car is a serious crime. It's not an “insurrection" against the government.

Cotton has played cute with inflammatory rhetoric before. He tweeted about giving “no quarter" against protesters, which conservative and veteran David French pointed out was a war crime. The actual “insurrectionists" Cotton invoked today had declared war against the United States. That is more than just a “little difference" from people protesting police brutality.

Just days after Lincoln won the presidency, South Carolina passed a resolution declaring his election a “hostile act" and effectively stated, “fuck you, we're keeping our slaves!" This was the state Assembly, not people from a “Defund the Police!" Facebook group.

Fort Sumter wasn't a nightclub in Charleston. It was a military base that South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens, who still has a county named after him, demanded that President James Buchanan “surrender" to the state, which had already formally seceded from the Union. This dragged on to April when Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter and US soldiers surrendered the base. Confederate troops occupied Fort Sumter for almost four years. There is obviously no military objective behind the protests in Portland. Angry vandals aren't soldiers or literal “insurrectionists." They aren't even Ammon Bundy, who led an armed militia that seized and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon.

It's also important to note that Lincoln would never have invaded southern states or sent troops to free enslaved Black people if the South hadn't declared war on the US. Lincoln's intent all along, prior to secession, was to accept the states' autonomy even if he disagreed with their laws. That is one of many distinctions between the 16th president and the current White House occupant.

From a July 1858 speech in Chicago, Illinois:

I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and interfere with the question of slavery at all.

Lincoln was on record “hating" slavery, but no matter how much he reassured the southern states that he had no grand plan to take their slaves, the future Confederacy was convinced he was going to take their slaves. It was like Barack Obama and guns.

Meanwhile, Cotton has defended memorials to Confederate traitors. He's a big hypocrite in addition to an idiot. He slanders Portlanders who protest in support of Black lives by comparing them to the Confederacy, which waged a war to continue enslaving Black lives. That's repulsive on its face, even one that already looks like Tom Cotton.

Stephen Robinson on Twitter.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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