Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma Offers Senator the ‘Finger’ for Stance on Slavery

Guess which finger Kyle Kuzma offered for Senator Tom Cotton?

Getty Guess which finger Kyle Kuzma offered for Senator Tom Cotton?

In the past few days, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has not done much to endear himself to folks around the country. Cotton said in a recent interview with a paper in his home state, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, that, according to the nation’s Founding Fathers, slavery was, “the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

Cotton has been widely pilloried for the remark but perhaps no one put it more succinctly than Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma tweeted a terse response to the “necessarily evil” portion of Cotton’s statement:

Cotton Called Characterization of Statement ‘Fake News’

Cotton has since defended the statement, pointing out that what he actually meant was that slavery was an evil institution and the country’s founders created a system that would eventually wipe it out.

Tweeting that the whole controversy was, “fake news,” Cotton said that, “*the Founders viewed slavery as a necessary evil* and described how they put the evil institution on the path to extinction, a point frequently made by Lincoln.”

Cotton did not address the fact that it was a long path: The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788 and the Emancipation Proclamation came 85 years later.

Cotton has been staunchly opposed to the 1619 Project, an educational program started by The New York Times as a way to move the story of slavery, which has been mostly left out of history books in this country, more into the consciousness of students and teachers.

The 1619 curriculum is available for elementary and secondary schools, but Cotton has been waging a campaign against it, even introducing a bill to prevent federal funding grants going to schools that teach it. He called the project, “racially divisive.”

Cotton was widely criticized for his stance.

As Daily Show host Trevor Noah said, “So Senator Cotton thinks this curriculum is racially divisive? You know what’s really racially divisive? Slavery.”

Noah added, “This guy acts like racial division doesn’t exist until slavery gets taught in school.”

Kyle Kuzma Has Been Outspoken on Social Justice Issues

Kuzma has been, along with star forward LeBron James, the Lakers’ most outspoken player on social justice issues. He said this week that while he did not believe players should answer questions with strictly social-justice answers, he did tweet—and repeated it when asked—that the media should boost players by asking more questions about off-the-floor issues.

Indeed, one reason NBA players agreed to return to action at a time when COVID-19 and social justice issues are roiling the country was that they felt their voices could be useful in the coming weeks and months. Kuzma said now is the time to stick to that idea:

This is one of the biggest times in our lifetimes especially for us because if you think about it, the only two things that I feel like the country are really paying attention to—really three things—are what the president says, COVID and the NBA bubble. With those three things, we have a huge impact and platform to really hold people accountable. That’s the biggest thing because a lot of times in this country in our society in the past, people haven’t been held accountable and now, with our platforms, it allows us to speak and speak on issues that are super-important and need to have justice.

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