Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) fired back at Tucker Carlson on Thursday after the Fox News host called her “a coward” earlier this week, and claimed neither Carlson nor President Donald Trump “know what patriotism is.”
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Duckworth explained her recent call for “a national dialogue” regarding whether statues of President George Washington should come down. In a Sunday interview with CNN host Dana Bash, Duckworth attacked Trump for his Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore, during which, she claimed, the president “spent all his time talking about dead traitors.” She went on to criticize Mount Rushmore itself for “standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty.”
Her position drew sharp criticism from Carlson on Tuesday, who said, “Only someone who hates the country would suggest ripping down monuments to its founder.” Carlson claimed he had extended an invitation for Duckworth to appear on his program to defend her position, but that the senator’s office demanded he publicly apologize to her before she would oblige. “Duckworth is too afraid to defend her own statements on a cable TV show,” Carlson said. “What a coward.”
Duckworth wrote in her op-ed, “Mr. Carlson disingenuously claimed that because I expressed an openness to ‘a national dialogue’ about our founders’ complex legacies, people like me ‘actually hate America.’ One night later, he claimed that I called George Washington a traitor even though I had unambiguously answered no when asked whether anyone could justify saying that he was.”
“Setting aside the fact that the right wing’s right to lie about me is one of the rights I fought to defend,” Duckworth clarified, “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.”
Duckworth went on to emphasize the importance of “every American’s freedom to have his or her own opinion about Washington’s flawed history,” adding, “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.”
Duckworth then pivoted to allege that Carlson’s attacks on her political views, which she claimed were “egged on by President Trump,” were actually intended as racist distractions from what she described as the president’s failures. “Their goal isn’t to make — or keep — America great. It’s to keep Mr. Trump in power, whatever the cost,” she wrote, adding:
They should know, though, that 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 — or my willingness to sacrifice for it so they don’t have to. These titanium legs don’t buckle.
Duckworth concluded her op-ed by stressing the importance of questioning those in power. “Anyone claiming to stand up for ‘patriotic’ values should recognize that, because, without it, the country these impostor patriots claim to love so much would not exist,” she added.
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