Feb 26, 2021
Tom Cotton 2021 CPAC Speech Transcript February 26
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton spoke at CPAC on February 26, 2021. Read the full transcript of his speech remarks here.
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Sen. Tom Cotton: (00:05)
Hello. Thank you all very much. Thanks for that great Florida welcome. It’s great to be back at CPAC, although something is a little different this year. For the first time ever, CPAC is not in our nation’s capital. That’s because they won’t let us anywhere near our nation’s capital. Think about it. Even though cases are plummeting and vaccination rates are surging, we are still banned from getting anywhere near our nation’s capital. Contrast that with what happened last summer with the BLM protests there. Thousands of people in the streets as cases were surging. Did Democratic politicians try to lock that down? No, they went out and marched with them. Now, maybe if CPAC had promised to burn down buildings and tear down statues, they would’ve let us up there, but there is nowhere, I would rather be than here with my fellow patriots free than locked down in Washington, DC.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (01:14)
But just think about that contrast. That contrast strikes at the heart of our freedom. That your rights may depend on what you say, what you believe, or the color of your skin, that’s the opposite of freedom. And conservatives everywhere, and really just normal Americans who don’t subscribe to every fad and fashion of the far left, see risk everywhere they turn. Big business may take your job away. Big tech may deplatform you. Your liberal college may kick you out of school. Your liberal governor may shut down your church. And why does the left do that? It’s because they failed to heed the warning of Ronald Reagan in his farewell address. They lost what he called the unambivalent appreciation of America.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (02:16)
Now, many on the left have concluded that America is a fundamentally flawed, irredeemable, wicked place. They have a lot of names for it, but whatever banner it flies under, it gets back to that anti-American idea. You can call it woke-ness or political correctness, cancel culture. You can call it critical race theory, critical gender theory, critical whatever. Some people call it systemic racism, but here’s their point. The key word is not racism, the key word is systemic. It doesn’t matter so much what the system is guilty of, only that the system is guilty and it needs to be burned to the ground. So many liberals think that about America. And how do they plan to do that? They plan to do it by rejecting our beautiful Declaration of Independence, and the central promise of America that we are all created equal in the eyes of God, and we all have equal rights under the law.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (03:22)
But too many of them no longer believe that. That’s why there’s no more urgent task today than the defense of America and a simple, unapologetic patriotism. We face many threats in this country, whether from China, or Iran, or Islamic terrorism, but there is no more pernicious threat to America than the rejection of our founding principles and our heritage and our tradition. And to all those on the left who would reject those things, I have a message. We will defend America without fear, without reservation, and without apology. After all, we’ve seen what happens when people lose the nerve to defend America. Last summer, chaos and riots engulfed our streets. Police stations were firebombed. Buildings, businesses were looted. Courthouses were attacked. Statues to our heroes were toppled. The police in some cases were overwhelmed, and didn’t have the numbers to stop the violence.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (04:40)
In other cases, liberal politicians refused to allow the police to restore order. You may recall, we were all told that these are mostly peaceful protests. Peaceful protests. Entire city blocks were burned to the ground. Remember the guy on CNN, standing in front of the blazing inferno, “It’s a mostly peaceful protest out here tonight, Wolf.” But the violence continued, night after night, so I wrote an op-ed in the New York Times. It had a very simple message, very simple, common sense message grounded in American history and law, supported by a majority of Americans, arguing very simply if the police cannot, or especially if they are not allowed to, restore order, then it is time to send in the troops.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (05:45)
And what happened next? Total meltdown with the little social justice warriors at the New York Times. All these children that have been marinated in the language of the campus seminar room. They said things like, “Your words put my life at risk,” as if typing on their phone, sitting on their futons was as dangerous as being a cop trying to stop rioters in the streets. Or, “Your words are violence.” Now, I’m sorry, Kiddo. Words are words. Violence is what your friends are doing out on the streets of America.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (06:24)
And of course, the New York Times editors, they caved and rolled over, and they apologized. They said my work didn’t meet their standards. That’s one time I actually agree with the New York Times. My work did not meet their standards. It far exceeded their normally lousy standards. Some people have even called for me to apologize, so let me say again, I will never apologize for defending America. One of the first things I learned in the army, really one of the first things anyone learns in the army, is the five principles of patrolling, the most important of which is security. Because if you don’t have security, you don’t have anything. And security is what our brave police officers bring to our communities every single day across America.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (07:24)
And that’s why conservatives should never apologize for backing the blue. And whether it’s a child mob at the New York Times, or a social media mob, or an actual mob in our streets, we will never bend the knee to a politically correct mob ever. Now, the New York Times is a laughingstock, obviously, but this is no laughing matter. The Democrats expect us all to surrender, to capitulate. They want to control the terms of the debate. They even want to control our language. Have you seen that Joe Biden wants to ban the term illegal aliens? What does he want to replace it with? He wants to replace it with undocumented non-citizen. Very words. True, I’m not making up. Why are they undocumented? Because they’re illegal.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (08:35)
It’s simple, people. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of their open borders immigration agenda. They want to give amnesty to 15 to 20 million illegal aliens, with no strings attached, with voting rights, presumably in time for what they hope will become Harris’ reelection campaign. They have halted deportations for all illegal aliens. Murderers, rapists, terrorists, MS-13 gang members are not being deported. They stopped building a wall on our border, and they put on the wall around your United States Capitol. And right now, right now as we speak, they are literally tracking down illegal aliens in Mexico who Donald Trump turned away to invite them to come back. That’s not catch and release, that’s recruit and release. And of course, you can’t fly into America without a negative coronavirus tests, but you can cross our border without one.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (09:38)
Now, I’ve got news for the Democrats again. It turns out, this open borders agenda is not very popular. You can see that in the polls about Joe Biden’s plans. 2020 was one of the best elections we’ve ever had with Hispanic voters in particular, with immigrant voters in general. Reminds me of a story a friend of mine back home told me. He works with a first-generation immigrant named Manuel. Manuel told him, “My wife and both of my boys and I all voted for Donald Trump.” And my friend said, “Oh, you didn’t vote for Donald Trump.” And Manuel said, “No, we voted for Trump.” And my friend said, “Why did you vote for Trump?” And Manuel pointed at the parking lot, and he said, “Have you seen my new pickup truck?” And he said, “Did you know that both of my boys have full-time jobs now?” And he said, “I’m not offended by what Donald Trump does, and like so many Americans across the country,” he said, “we have Donald Trump to thank for those things.”
Sen. Tom Cotton: (10:51)
So is it any wonder that people like him, immigrants who obeyed our laws and came here the right way, who earned their citizenship and earned the right to vote are some of our most patriotic and loyal Americans? People who escaped depression from countries like Cuba or Venezuela or China. More than ever, we need that kind of simple, unambivalent, unashamed patriotism, the proud love of a great country, because America truly is a great country. It is worth fighting for. It is worth dying for, and it is worth defending our history.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (11:36)
These radical liberals, they want to erase our history. They want to replace it with their crazy Marxist theories. They may say that it’s about the Civil War or racism, but don’t believe them. Look at what’s happening in San Francisco. They’re trying to rename schools named after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and Dianne Feinstein. People, if Dianne Feinstein is not liberal enough for you, I don’t know what to tell you. But they are more focused on renaming Abraham Lincoln High School than they are opening it up so kids can go back and learn there. And remember this, too. Remember this, too. Last summer, as there’s mobs rampaging the streets, they tore down statues of Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant. When they’re tearing down statues of Lincoln and Grant, it’s not about the Civil War or racism, it’s because they hate America. They want to erase and rewrite our history. These liberals read 1984 and thought it wasn’t a cautionary tale, but a how-to manual. These are the same liberals that were burning our flag over and over again last summer in the streets.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (13:02)
And what happened? The media celebrated them. Kamala Harris bailed them out of jail. Well, I think you all know what we should do with rioters in the street. We should lock up every last one of them. I’ll confess that it makes my blood boil when I see liberals desecrating our flag. When I was in the army, I served at Arlington National Cemetery, and we performed funerals for our fallen heroes. I had to present that flag to their widows, the same flag was burned in our streets last year. The same flag that pampered athletes disrespect by taking a knee during our national anthem. Those athletes are about the same age as a lot of those soldiers, a lot of our wounded warriors that don’t have the ability to take a knee anymore.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (14:02)
You would think it was the least those athletes could do to stand up for our flag when our national anthem plays. But if they won’t stand up, then we will stand up for our flag. Let me close with just one final story about the flag. I used to get asked questions a lot, I still do, about why the flag is backwards on the army uniform, and it goes back to the day of cavalry charges. When our soldiers would charge in the battle, the flag would fly in the wind. And if you are on the right side of the formation, and the flag is worn on the right shoulder, it would appear backwards. So our soldiers wear that flag backwards on their uniform still today to remind everyone that our army always advances. It never retreats.
Sen. Tom Cotton: (14:52)
And I think that’s a pretty good lesson for us today. When America is under assault, and conservatives are under attack, we will never retreat. We will never surrender, and we will always defend and protect the United States of America. Thank you all. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.