Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a Thai American Democrat who lost both of her legs fighting in the Iraq War and is now a potential vice presidential nominee, was targeted with nativist smears for the second night in a row Tuesday by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Carlson, whose broadsides have been amplified on Twitter by President Donald Trump, has attacked Duckworth in his monologue for suggesting during a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it was worth discussing the value of removing monuments of George Washington, the nation’s slave-owning first president.
On Tuesday night Carlson labeled both Duckworth – who was born in Thailand to a Thai mother of Chinese descent and a white American veteran father – and the Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota as “vandals” who hate the United States because they have called attention to its historical racism and inequities.
“There are many of us here who do like this country,” Carlson said, as a graphic on the screen read, “We have to fight to preserve our nation & heritage.”
“We live here,” he said. Then, adopting language used for a century by those aiming to restrict the country to people of Northern and Western European ancestry, he added: “We don’t want to destroy it. We have every right to fight to preserve our nation and our heritage and our culture.
“And when vandals like Tammy Duckworth and Ilhan Omar tell us that we’re not allowed to question their patriotism, even as they scream about how horrible America is, we have every right to laugh in their faces, and we should.”
Carlson also called Duckworth a “moron” on Tuesday night, saying that to people like her, “Washington is just some old white guy who needs to be erased.”
He added: “Let’s tear down our statues, rename our capital city Sharpton or Mandela and let the revolution continue. Tammy Duckworth is not a child, at least not technically; she is a sitting United States senator.”
Duckworth’s ancestors served in the military as far back as the American Revolution, a fact that is supported by genealogical records and that she pointed out in a tweet responding to the Trump campaign, which had echoed Carlson’s attacks in a statement.
“My family fought for our nation’s independence alongside George Washington & I’m a proud member of @TodaysDAR,” she said, referring to the Daughters of the American Revolution. She urged the president to “focus on ending #COVID19 & standing up to Putin instead of wasting time trying to distract people from your failures.”
And VoteVets, the liberal veterans organization that has pushed for Joe Biden to choose Duckworth as his running mate, on Wednesday morning posted a video calling Duckworth “tough as hell” and accusing Trump of being scared to run against her.
“He sicced Tucker Carlson on a suicide mission to take her down,” the video’s narrator says.
Carlson’s comments in recent months have drawn growing criticism even as his ratings have remained strong — the best on his network in June. Advertisers, under pressure to disassociate themselves from his show, have fled to other Fox News programming.
Nativist attacks on Democratic women of color in Congress are hardly new for Carlson and Trump. Omar was one of four Democratic women who were the target of “send her back” chants at a Trump rally in North Carolina nearly a year ago. She is also, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, featured in a scores of Republican television ads and political mailers as examples of what the party’s candidates are fighting against.
Biden, the former vice president, defended her during an online fundraising event with her Tuesday night.
Apparently referring to Trump’s sharing the clip of Carlson’s Monday night monologue, Biden said: “I can’t tell you how I felt today when I heard the president of the United States, Donald Trump, questioning your patriotism. I found it virtually disgusting, sickening.”
He added, “It’s a reflection of the depravity of what’s going on in the White House right now.”
Duckworth did not address Carlson during the Biden fundraiser, but on Twitter on Monday night she invited him to “walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America.”