Patriotism, particularly patriotism of the ostentatious variety, is, indeed, the last refuge of the scoundrel.
Over the weekend, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth was on CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash. Duckworth was trying to talk about Chinese Lung Aids and probably the importance of wearing facial diapers and locking down the country and hiding under our collective bed. Bash, however, wanted to talk about Trump’s Rushmore speech and the current fashion on the left of tearing down any statue that isn’t of someone who adheres to the current shibboleths demanded by the progressive speech police. During that interview, Duckworth was completely open to the idea of tearing down statues of George Washington.
President Trump gave a speech at Mount Rushmore Friday night. He talked about the importance of preserving historical monuments. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Senator, I know that you support change in the name of military bases named after Confederate leaders.
But there are leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were slave owners, and some people are demanding that their monuments come down, too. So, in your view, where does it end? Should statues, for example, of
George Washington come down?
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point.
But, right now, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And our — one of our ally — one of our — countries that are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops’ head.
What really struck me about this speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of our American — 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19, or by warning Russia off of the bounty they’re putting on Americans’ heads.
I mean, his priorities are all wrong here. He should be talking about what we’re going to do to overcome this pandemic. What are we going to do to push Russia back? And, instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors.
BASH: So, that might be — be true, but George Washington, I don’t think anybody would call him a traitor. And there are…
BASH: … moves by some to remove statues of him. Is that a good idea?
DUCKWORTH: I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there.
But remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty.
And, again, let’s talk about the greater context of where we are in our country right now. We should be talking about the fact that COVID- 19 is experiencing a resurgence, and both this president and the man he put in charge of the pandemic response team, the vice president, have both failed miserably at their jobs.
I’m more worried about the 130,000 who have lost their lives recently and the thousands and thousands more Americans who are currently sick than I am about the — our historical past.
We need to talk about what we’re doing now to bring this country off of the brink of chaos that it’s in.
Read more about this bizarre interview at Tammy Duckworth Goes on Bizarre Rant About Trump’s Speech, Cites ‘Dead Traitors’ and Russia.
Seriously, if you can’t call the demand to remove the statue of the essential man in the formation of the United States of America the worst sort of nutbaggery that should never be taken seriously, you probably need to reevaluate your priorities and belief system.
Last night, Tucker Carlson picked up on that. He prefaces it by saying
You’re not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way because she once served in the military. Most people just ignore her. But when Duckworth does speak in public, you’re reminded what a deeply silly and unimpressive person she is.
In summary, Carlson, in reference to the various political and media figures he’d called out, said:
It’s long been considered out of bounds to question a person’s patriotism. It’s a very strong charge, and we try not ever to make it. But in the face of all of this, the conclusion can’t be avoided. These people actually hate America. There’s no longer a question about that.
Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) July 7, 2020
And the usual suspects chimed in, like noted combat veteran David French:
There is far, far more objective evidence that Tammy Duckworth loves this country than there is that Tucker Carlson does. He has opinions. She has sacrifice. https://t.co/tcuaPmNKmi
— David French (@DavidAFrench) July 7, 2020
In fact, the way French is white-knighting for Duckworth on Twitter you’d be excused for thinking he has the hots for her.
There are two parts to this, and they really have nothing to do with each other.
Duckworth served in the Army as a helicopter pilot. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was shot down. As a result of that shootdown, she was severely injured. That’s unfortunate but it is what can happen to soldiers in combat, it is part of the risk you accept. Carlson did not criticize her service beyond noting that she uses, and I want to underscore the word ‘use,’ her injury when she’s challenged the way a turtle uses its shell.
But to be clear, her getting shot down and injured does not make her service any more valorous and says nothing more about her patriotism and love of America than, say, the service of a machine gunner in a Ranger battalion who served in Afghanistan and later attended the US Military Academy:
— Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) June 9, 2018
Serving in the military, whether or not you get shot down or blow yourself up, says nothing at all about your character or patriotism or anything else.
On October 7, 1777, General Horatio Gates confronted the British troops under General John Burgoyne at Saratoga. As what we today call the Battle of Bemis Heights unfolded, it became obvious that the key position was a redoubt held by Brunswicker (Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel) Grenadiers, Canadians, and American Loyalists under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann. As Daniel Morgan’s Virginians pressed the front of the redoubt, Colonel Ebenezer Learned’s Massachusetts brigade attacked the other. As the Massachusetts men ran out of enthusiasm one of Gates’s aides arrived, rallied the men, and stormed the redoubt. This forced Burgoyne to retreat and ten days later he surrendered to Gates. That aide was severely wounded during the attack. A musket ball passed through his horse, killing it, and also passed through his leg. Surgeons prepared to amputate his limb but he refused to let them. That aid was a brigadier general named Benedict Arnold. The only statue in the United States to him–though I fully expect that to change should Democrat power increase in November — is of his leg at the site of the Breymann Redoubt.
Benedict Arnold's leg. Shot fighting Brits: honors 1 part given to build USA. Traitorous parts ignored. pic.twitter.com/yK5e5mlED2
— S.L. Price (@bySLPrice) August 18, 2017
Though, oddly enough, like Arnold, Duckworth has a low opinion of Washington but I’m sure that’s entirely coincidental.
The point is not that Duckworth is Benedict Arnold. She’s neither that charismatic nor competent. The point is that getting wounded in combat in the service of a country is not a sign that you particularly love that country. If she wants a national dialog on taking down Washington statues, she needs to stop hiding behind her military service and wounds or she needs to just shut up.