Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth harshly criticized Tucker Carlson and the Trump campaign in a Thursday op-ed, writing that she won’t be deterred by “self-serving, insecure men who can’t tell the difference between true patriotism and hateful nationalism.” Duckworth’s comments come after Carlson and Mr. Trump attacked her for saying there should be a “national dialogue” about potentially removing statues of George Washington. 

After Duckworth called for “national dialogue” about the statues’ removal on CNN on Sunday, Carlson accused her of hating America. The Trump campaign also released a statement, accusing her of using her military service to “deflect from her support for the left-wing campaign to villainize America’s founding.”

Duckworth, a double amputee and Iraq War veteran, wrote in the New York Times that she does not 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.”

“But 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,” she added.  

She also said the Trump campaign should know 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.” 

“The hateful vision for America parroted by Mr. Trump and Mr. Carlson will not win,” she added. “Their relentless efforts to drive wedges between us will not work forever. We are too resilient a nation, too diverse a people, to let them.”

During his show on Monday, Carlson questioned Duckworth’s patriotism and called the senator a “deeply silly and unimpressive person” for her comments. A day later, Carlson called Duckworth and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar “vandals.”

“We have every right to fight to preserve our nation, and our heritage and our culture,” Carlson said on his show Tuesday night. “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.”

Duckworth fired back in the op-ed, writing that she would risk her life to defend every American’s opinion of Washington’s “flawed history.”

“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 wrote.

Duckworth, a Thai-American, also noted that the “racist insults” from Carlson and the Trump campaign are part of a broader electoral strategy to benefit Trump by distracting Americans from the coronavirus pandemic and recent reports of Russia placing bounties on American 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.”

VoteVets, a liberal veterans’ organization, released a video on Wednesday defending Duckworth, while also criticizing Trump and Carlson. The organization has been supportive of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden potentially choosing Duckworth as his running mate.

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