In a searing New York Times op-ed published Thursday night, Sen. Tammy Duckworth pushed back against statements by Donald Trump and right-wing Fox News host Tucker Carlson calling her patriotism into question.
“Attacks from self-serving, insecure men who can’t tell the difference between true patriotism and hateful nationalism will never diminish my love for this country,” Duckworth wrote, “or my willingness to sacrifice for it so they don’t have to. These titanium legs don’t buckle.”
The beef started on Monday when Carlson took issue with an answer Duckworth gave when she was asked on CNN about taking down statues of slave-owning founding fathers like George Washington amid a push to tear down statues of Confederate traitors. Duckworth didn’t call for such statues to be taken down, but she did suggest that the country should have “a national dialogue” about them.
On his Fox News show Monday night, Carlson took that statement out of context and launched into a screen in which he told his viewers, among other things, that she and other Democrats “hate America.” The next night, Carlson called Duckworth “a coward” because she wouldn’t go on his show to debate his insults. Donald Trump got in on the act on Wednesday, insulting her in extremely personal terms while implying that his left-wing critics are traitors.
Duckworth, of course, is a U.S. army veteran who lost both of her legs in 2004 during one of her tours in the second Iraq war, a war Carlson supported — at least until it turned into a disaster — but didn’t volunteer to fight in. In fact, Duckworth sought a special dispensation that would allow her to continue serving in the Army even after losing her legs. She retired in 2014 after 22 years. Donald Trump meanwhile was exempted from the Vietnam war draft due to “bone spurs” in his heels. And Carlson has never served in the military either.
In her op-ed, Duckworth said that their attacks on her are a “desperate” attempt to distract Americans from “Donald Trump’s failure to lead our nation.” Trump and Carlson, Duckworth said, “think Mr. Trump’s electoral prospects will be better if they can turn us against one another. Their goal isn’t to make — or keep — America great. It’s to keep Mr. Trump in power, whatever the cost.”
“It’s better for Mr. Trump to have you focused on whether an Asian-American woman is sufficiently American than to have you mourning the 130,000 Americans killed by a virus he claimed would disappear in February,” Duckworth wrote, accurately referring to one of the many times Trump downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19. She also said that this play distracts from the fact that Trump has “apparently done nothing about reports of Russia putting bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan.”
She also explained her position on Washington in greater detail. “Setting aside the fact that the right wing’s right to lie about me is one of the rights I fought to defend, let me be clear: I don’t want George Washington’s statue to be pulled down any more than I want the Purple Heart that he established to be ripped off my chest. I never said that I did,” she wrote.
“What some on the other side don’t seem to understand,” she continued, “is that we can honor our founders while acknowledging their serious faults, including the undeniable fact that many of them enslaved Black Americans. Because while we have never been a perfect union, we have always sought to be a more perfect union — and in order to do so, we cannot whitewash our missteps and mistakes. We must learn from them instead.”
Duckworth concluded by dismissing Carlson and Trump’s comments as attempts “to race-bait or swift-boat anyone who dares disagree with them,” and saying that she intends to “spend every moment I can from now until November fighting to elect leaders who would rather do good for their country than do well for themselves.”
Read the whole thing here.