Sen. Tom Cotton is against 'cancel culture' and campus censorship — except when people disagree with him.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has frequently accused people and organizations of censorship and of belonging to "cancel culture." But after the Washington Post published an op-ed in which an Air Force Academy professor explained the importance of teaching about the history of racism in the United States, he is calling for her removal.
On Wednesday, Cotton appeared on Fox News and criticized Lynne Chandler García, an associate professor of political science at the military academy, for saying that she teaches cadets about critical race theory.
In the op-ed, published by the Post on Tuesday, García wrote, "As a professor of political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I teach critical race theories to our nation's future military leaders because it is vital that cadets understand the history of the racism that has shaped both foreign and domestic policy. ... I don't coddle my cadets out of fear that exposure to certain literatures might make them uncomfortable or test their existing beliefs."
García also cited Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who defended teaching critical race theory during an appearance June 23 before the House Armed Services Committee, saying, "What is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?"
"It's clear that she knows very little about our Constitution, which is so typical of colleges these days," Cotton said. "Secretary [of Defense Lloyd] Austin has testified at least twice that our military does not teach, instruct, condone critical race theory. So Miss García probably should start looking for a different place of employment, in my opinion." He called for "oversight of what's being taught to our cadets at the service academies."
He said, "I suspect that Gen. Clark, the superintendent of the Air Force Academy, and I will be having a conversation very soon about all this."
"Professor García has no business teaching the Constitution or political science at the Air Force Academy," Cotton tweeted, sharing a video of the appearance on Fox. "We should not be teaching cadets that our military is a fundamentally racist institution."
Critical race theory is an academic approach to studying the history and current structure of the United States that takes into account the role racism has played and continues to play in both. Republicans have recently started using the phrase as a catchall for criticizing and blocking any teaching about systemic racism.
While Cotton is now openly working to remove an academic for speaking about her views, he has long been vocal in opposition to those he accuses of censoring conservative voices and violating the First Amendment's free speech protections.
Last August, he authored and introduced S. 4483, the Campus Free Speech Restoration Act, "To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to ensure that public institutions of higher education eschew policies that improperly constrain the expressive rights of students, and to ensure that private institutions of higher education are transparent about, and responsible for, their chosen speech policies."
"Too many of America's public colleges have attacked the First Amendment rights of their students using so-called free speech zones and unconstitutional speech codes. This bill fights back against campus censors in order to defend open debate and free speech, which lead us to truth," he said in a statement released on Aug. 6, 2020.
Two months later, Cotton threatened tech companies he believed were improperly censoring conservatives. "Those in Silicon Valley — winter is coming," he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, adding, "All options will be on the table, now that these Big Tech oligarchs have declared open war on the Republican Party and conservatives across America."
In March of this year, he accused Amazon of censorship after it removed a conservative book about gender transition from its platforms, which it explained in a letter that read, "We have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness."
After the New York Times responded to outcry over its publication of an op-ed he'd written calling for the use of U.S. troops against anti-racism protesters, Cotton said in a speech in the Senate on June 12, 2020, "I mean, the New York Times has made itself a laughingstock, but this is no laughing matter because cancel culture threatens the very principles of free inquiry and open debate upon which our society is based. And you see other manifestations of cancel culture all across the country today.
"In many cases they have adopted the spirit of a Jacobin mob in the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror trying to completely erase our culture and our history. Unfortunately, many Democrats are vying to be the Robespierre for this Jacobin mob," Cotton said.
"I will say this, cancel culture, whether in its Maoist or its Jacobin forms, ultimately is animated by a single idea—that America at its core is fundamentally irredeemable and wicked. I reject that claim fully, wholeheartedly," he said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.