Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, introduced a bill this week that would cut federal funding for any K-12 school district that teaches the 1619 project, a major interactive initiative from The New York Times that examines the history of slavery in the United States, Forbes reported on Thursday. As the report noted, a number of conservatives have criticized the initiative and some historians have disputed its historic accuracy. The proposal calls on the secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services and Agriculture to shave funding depending on the cost of adding it into the curriculum.
Cotton has emerged as one of the loudest voices in opposition to the growing nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. The senator has spoken out against what he has called “woke culture” after he faced criticism for a New York Times essay in which he called for military intervention in protests.
The paper distanced itself from his op-ed, Forbes noted, and the Republican called out the newspaper by name in a statement introducing the proposal.
“The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” the Arkansas Republican said in a press release announcing his proposal.
“Under the bill, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture would be required to prorate federal funding to schools that decide to teach the 1619 Project—determined by how much it costs to plan and teach that curriculum.,” the press release read.
In unveiling the project, New York Times Magazine Editor in Chief Jake Silverstein said that the goal was to consider the implications of considering 1619 as the true birth year of the United States, exploring the historic importance of the slave trade. The initiative has faced criticism from a number of historians who say it places too much importance on slavery and its significance on the founding of the nation.
The history of slavery has come under increased scrutiny amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, with many demonstrators calling for monuments to slave owners and Confederate figures to be taken down.
While it does not appear the bill has much of a chance of being made into law, Forbes wrote that its introduction likely will not have political consequences for Cotton. He is running for a second term “virtually unopposed,” with would-be Democratic opponent Joshua Mahoney dropping out shortly after filing paperwork to enter the race.