Illinois Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth criticized President Donald Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a recent New York Times opinion article, saying “Carlson doesn’t know what patriotism is” and “neither does President Trump.”
Duckworth wrote her opinion for The Times after a back and forth argument with Carlson over proposals to remove statues of U.S. presidents, such as George Washington. Duckworth said Carlson had twisted her words and that she opposed removing statues of Washington, but that she would fight for all Americans to be able to voice their opinions criticizing the first U.S. President.
“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,” Duckworth wrote. “I never said that I did.”
Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran and a former helicopter pilot who was injured in 2004 in Iraq when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both of her legs in the incident.
“While I would risk my own safety to protect a statue of his from harm, I’ll fight to my last breath to defend every American’s freedom to have his or her own opinion about Washington’s flawed history,” Duckworth continued her opinion article. “What some on the other side don’t seem to understand is that we can honor our founders while acknowledging their serious faults, including the undeniable fact that many of them enslaved Black Americans.”
Carlson initially criticized Duckworth in a July 6 Fox segment for suggesting Americans could have a “national dialogue” on the topic of removing statues of Washington.
In a follow-up segment the day after his first, Carlson accused Duckworth of twisting Trump’s remarks at an Independence Day event at Mt. Rushmore the week prior and calling him a racist.
“The only time Trump even brought up the Civil War was to praise Abraham Lincoln, who thank god won it. He never mentioned the Confederacy or anyone in the Confederacy,” Carlson said. “Instead, Trump praised unabashed American heroes like George Washington, Clara Barton, the Wright brothers, Jackie Robinson. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois watched Trump’s speech, or claims she did. Her summary of it, quote ‘he spent all his time talking about dead traitors.’
“George Washington, Clara Barton, Jackie Robinson, they are all, according to Tammy Duckworth, ‘dead traitors,'” Carlson continued.
Responding to both rounds of criticism from Carlson, Duckworth wrote in her opinion article on July 9: “what I actually said isn’t the reason Mr. Carlson and Mr. Trump are questioning my patriotism, nor is it why they’re using the same racist insults against me that have been slung my way time and again in years past, though they have never worked on me.
“They’re doing it because they’re desperate for America’s attention to be on anything other than Donald Trump’s failure to lead our nation, and because they think that Mr. Trump’s electoral prospects will be better if they can turn us against one another,” Duckworth wrote.
Duckworth went on to tie Trump into her criticism of Carlson, and referenced recent lines of attack against Trump, placing him at fault for U.S. coronavirus deaths and accusing him of ignoring warnings that Russian intelligence sources had placed bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“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. “It’s better for his campaign to distract Americans with whether a combat veteran is sufficiently patriotic than for people to recall that this failed commander in chief has still apparently done nothing about reports of Russia putting bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan.”
In her concluding remarks, Duckworth vowed to spend her time until November campaigning against Trump’s reelection.
“While I would put on my old uniform and go to war all over again to protect the right of Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump to say offensive things on TV and Twitter, I will also 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,” she wrote.
Duckworth has also lead efforts in recent weeks to stall the promotions of more than 1,100 U.S. military officers over claims of retaliation by Trump against U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for testifying against Trump in a November impeachment effort. Duckworth has insisted she will stick by her decision to block the promotions even after Vindman announced his decision to retire last week.