Sen. Mark Kirk Questions Military Service of Opponent’s Family

“I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth after a discussion with Mark Kirk in the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board room. Nancy Stone/TNS via ZUMA Wire

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) offered a bizarre and offensive quip Thursday night when he decided to deride the military service of his opponent’s family rather than respond to a question about war.

The comment came after Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is challenging Kirk for his Senate seat, noted that her family had served in the military since the American Revolution. Duckworth is a veteran who lost both her legs in the War in Iraq and received the Purple Heart for her service. After she had noted that she is a “daughter of the American Revolution,” Kirk was given 30 seconds to respond. Instead, he opted for a one-line response: “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

Duckworth was born in Bangkok to a mother of Chinese descent and an American father of British descent.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly condemned the comment as racist. “Senator Mark Kirk’s attack on Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s family tonight was offensive, wrong, and racist,” spokeswoman Lara Sisselman said in a statement. “Senator Kirk has been caught lying about his military record over ten times, but he was quick to launch false attacks questioning Congresswoman Duckworth’s family’s long history of serving our country. A struggling political campaign is no excuse for baseless and despicable attacks, and Senator Kirk owes Congresswoman Duckworth and her family an apology.”

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate