Let’s get one thing very clear, when a person mocks another person’s mixed-race heritage, it is called racism – not borderline racism.
So, when Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk questioned his Democratic opponent’s ancestry during a debate this week, he wasn’t being borderline racist – he was being racist.
Kirk sparked outrage when he ridiculed the Asian-American heritage of his opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is an Iraq war veteran.
“I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk said in response to Duckworth’s point that her family had served in the military since the American Revolution.
Duckworth served as a US Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq war. She lost both her legs after a rocket-propelled grenade hit her helicopter in 2004.
“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution. I am a Daughter of the American Revolution,” she had said before Kirk’s offensive retort.
“I’ve bled for this nation,” she continued. “But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound because people are quick to sound the drums of war and I want to be there to say, ‘This is what it costs and this is what you’re asking us to do.’ And if that’s the case, I’ll go. It’s families like mine that bleed first. But let’s make sure that the American people understand what we are engaging in and let’s hold our allies accountable because we can’t do it all.”
That’s when Kirk interjected with his racist jibe.
Backlash ensued, of course:
I guess Mark Kirk is mad he's losing, but what did he expect? He only got in the Senate bc Dems nominated 2010's Patrick Murphy against him.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) October 28, 2016
Mark Kirk is going to lose and that's a good thing.— #FreeBresha (@prisonculture) October 28, 2016
I hope Mark Kirk has enjoyed his one term in the Senate because Illinoisans won't be returning him there come November 8th. #ILSen— Logan Heiman (@LoganHeiman_) October 28, 2016
This is Mark Kirk. He is the face of the GOP's moderate wing. He is a racist. https://t.co/Y88Iys0cK7— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) October 28, 2016
Kirk released a statement following the incident, however, just to be clear, it is not an apology:
And here's a statement from the Mark Kirk campaign re: making a jab at Tammy Duckworth's family heritage (it's not an apology) pic.twitter.com/3LPLguPiMS— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) October 28, 2016