The past three months have been a test of my patience in more ways than one.
I have lost my job, I have not seen most of my friends, I have argued with family members about why Black Lives Matter and what it really means to have white privilege, I have pondered whether or not my fiancee and I will have to postpone our wedding next year, and I have seen countless ignorant and racist posts on social media by people in my feed.
And then I saw Tucker Carlson’s comments about Tammy Duckworth last night, and my patience had officially run out.
While each of these could be used to describe Carlson, the controversial Fox News host, they are instead the words he used to describe Duckworth — a United States senator who lost both of her legs in combat while serving in the military.
It takes a special kind of white privilege to not only believe any of these things accurately describe Duckworth, but to say them on national television. Since Carlson has such strong opinions on Duckworth and since they are only a year apart in age, let’s stack them up side by side.
Carlson’s educational background begins and ends with a bachelor’s degree in history from Trinity College, a private liberal arts college. Duckworth has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a Master’s degree in international affairs, and completed her PhD.
Duckworth served her country in the Army for over two decades, earning the rank of lieutenant colonel. She was the first American female double amputee from the Iraq War. Carlson never served in the military. (He applied to join the Central Intelligence Agency, but was denied.)
Duckworth is an elected United States senator. Before that, she started a program to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and veterans with brain injury. Carlson filed a lawsuit after his birth mother passed away seeking to make money off her oil and gas royalties.
Duckworth is fluent in three languages and is being considered for the second-most powerful position in the country. Her life story is powerful, inspiring, and a potential Oscar-winning movie. Carlson is an heir to the Swanson frozen foods empire who finished dead last on Dancing With The Stars.
Which one sounds “unimpressive” to you?
Much like Donald Trump, Carlson is lauded for “speaking the truth” and “telling it like it is” and by his fans — of which there are millions.
The problem is that Carlson — much like Trump — speaks his truth, and people take it as fact. Just because someone believes something, that does not make it true. “Telling it like it is” should not be synonymous with being an asshole. And when you have an audience of roughly four million people every week absorbing what you say, that is a dangerous combination.
Admittedly, I did not know much about Tammy Duckworth up until this week… but I did my homework on her. I am well aware that the majority of people — particularly those who binge-watch Fox News like teenagers and The Office — will not take similar steps, and that is fine.
But Tucker Carlson knows most people will not take those steps, either. It is what makes him an abhorrent human being. It is what makes him a dangerous person with a massive platform. It is why he is everything that is wrong with America.