Mark Kirk screenshot

During World War Two, President Barack Obama’s grandfather Stanley Dunham (who was white) served as a supply sergeant with the U.S. Army Air Forces. He crossed the English Channel six weeks after D-Day with the 1830th Ordnance Supply and Maintenance Company and went on to service “airfields…in places such as Brucheville, Cricqueville, St.-Jean-de-Daye, Peray, Clastres, Juvincourt and Saint-Dizier.” Back at home, the president’s grandmother Madelyn (who was white) worked “the night shift as a supervisor on the B-29 bomber assembly line at the Boeing plant” in Wichita, Kansas.

But the only thing you really need to know about the president and his family is that he’s black and his father was Kenyan.

Likewise, Tammy Duckworth’s father (who was white) served in the U.S. Marines in World War Two. According to Duckworth, his family has been in the country since before independence from England and she is a member of Daughters of the American Revolution.

But the only thing you need to know about Tammy Duckworth is that she’s Asian and her mother is from Thailand.

Senator Mark Kirk was a Naval reservist who served stateside during Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a intelligence officer during the war with Serbia in the late 1990’s. He has lied about both, saying that he was the only member of Congress to serve in the Persian Gulf War and falsely claiming to have been recognized as Intelligence Officer of the Year during the conflict in the Balkans.

But the only thing you need to know about Mark Kirk is that both his parents are white.

That’s why he can mock Duckworth’s father and all his American ancestors by doubting in a debate that her “parents came all the way from Thailand to fight alongside George Washington.”

Unlike Mark Kirk, who lied about serving in Iraq, Tammy Duckworth lost her legs there when the “UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.”

It doesn’t really matter what your parents or grandparents did to serve this country, and it doesn’t matter how many limbs you’ve lost serving in our armed forces, if you have a non-white parent, those contributions are obliterated.

Tammy Duckworth was born in Bangkok. Maybe she can show you the long-form birth certificate.

She’ll be a U.S. Senator come January.

Come January, Senator Mark Kirk will be a private citizen, just like Donald Trump.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at