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Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas described slavery as a “necessary evil” in an attack on a New York Times project exploring the legacy of slavery in the US.

Cotton in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette defended a bill he intends to introduce to Congress that would propose cutting federal funding to schools that adopt The Times’ “1619 Project” as part of their history curricula.

The project was launched in a special edition of The New York Times Magazine last August marking the 400th anniversary of the start of slavery in what became the US.

In an introduction, The Times said the project was meant to place “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

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