Sen. Tom Cotton and others of his ilk are already out running for president in 2024 and the Lincoln Project isn’t too impressed.


Cotton is currently campaigning for Republican Senate candidates in Georgia, with some of his usual baloney. Didn’t he just get through campaigning for an alleged billionaire who’s been living off a fortune created by his father?


The Harvard grad also came in for some schooling after he went after the “radical left” for supposedly dissing the Pilgrims and dispelling the myths about the originial Thanksgiving. It’s an outgrowth of his anger over the New York Times’ 1619 project, which tried to bring the history of slavery in the U.S. into the mainstream of events still ongoing. Cotton, who essentially alibied for slavery, found his history of the Pilgrims and Indians in the words of white men written a couple of centuries after the actual event. Here’s a Smithsonian article about what some people on the Indian side of the fence think about it all, in an interview with the author of a book on the subject.

What is the Thanksgiving myth?

The myth is that friendly Indians, unidentified by tribe, welcome the Pilgrims to America, teach them how to live in this new place, sit down to dinner with them and then disappear. They hand off America to white people so they can create a great nation dedicated to liberty, opportunity and Christianity for the rest of the world to profit. That’s the story—it’s about Native people conceding to colonialism. It’s bloodless and in many ways an extension of the ideology of Manifest Destiny.

What are the most poignant inaccuracies in this story?

One is that history doesn’t begin for Native people until Europeans arrive. People had been in the Americas for least 12,000 years and according to some Native traditions, since the beginning of time. And having history start with the English is a way of dismissing all that. The second is that the arrival of the Mayflower is some kind of first-contact episode. It’s not. Wampanoags had a century of contact with Europeans–it was bloody and it involved slave raiding by Europeans. At least two and maybe more Wampanoags, when the Pilgrims arrived, spoke English, had already been to Europe and back and knew the very organizers of the Pilgrims’ venture.

Most poignantly, using a shared dinner as a symbol for colonialism really has it backward. No question about it, Wampanoag leader Ousamequin reached out to the English at Plymouth and wanted an alliance with them. But it’s not because he was innately friendly. It’s because his people have been decimated by an epidemic disease, and Ousamequin sees the English as an opportunity to fend off his tribal rebels. That’s not the stuff of Thanksgiving pageants. The Thanksgiving myth doesn’t address the deterioration of this relationship culminating in one of the most horrific colonial Indian wars on record, King Philip’s War, and also doesn’t address Wampanoag survival and adaptation over the centuries, which is why they’re still here, despite the odds.

Here’s one good reaction to Cotton’s Senate speech, delivered in his usual perpetual sneer.


Get ready for four years of this, or at least as much time as it takes for Republican primary voters to realize that even Ted Cruz has more charm.