Duckworth: Silence Is Betrayal When It Comes to Trump’s Bigotry

In a speech at this afternoon’s EMILY’s List Ignite Change luncheon in Chicago, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Tammy Duckworth targeted Republican Senator Mark Kirk’s silence in the face of his endorsed presidential candidate’s — presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump — bigoted attacks on a federal judge of Hispanic origin. Duckworth, whose mother was born in Thailand to Chinese parents, called Trump’s comments un-American and beneath the dignity of the office of the President. While Republicans across the country have condemned Trump’s comments, Kirk declined comment to NBC News this morning.

Excerpts from Duckworth’s speech, as prepared for delivery:

“Something happened last week, which to me goes beyond the boundaries of a campaign — even a campaign as important as this one — and I want to address that… After more details about the colossal scam that was Trump University came to light, Trump — the presumptive Republican nominee for president — went on the attack, slandering an accomplished federal judge who has served this country with distinction. In fact, you could say that this judge, a former prosecutor who reportedly had to spend a year in hiding because he was being targeted by a Mexican drug cartel he was prosecuting, has done far more for this country than a casino, steak, and necktie magnate like Donald Trump.

Why did this judge come under attack from Trump? Because of his Mexican heritage. Trump said, in essence, this judge is incapable of doing his job and performing his duty fairly and impartially because he’s Hispanic.

Let me tell you something, Mr. Trump: This daughter of a Thai-born Chinese mother takes it extremely personally that anyone who would seek to lead this great country would divide us like that. When I signed up for the Army, and when I deployed to Iraq, no one suggested that my Asian heritage might interfere with my ability to defend this country. That’s part of the American experiment: extending to our fellow citizens the basic benefit of the doubt that no matter where any of us comes from, or how long we’ve been here, we are Americans, we are in this together, and our love of this great country is sincere.

Trump’s statements are outrageous, and they are un-American. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited to the office of the Presidency, and I truly believe we are duty bound to make sure he gets nowhere near the awesome responsibility of the office of President of the United States.

And to my opponent, Senator Kirk, I would simply say, as Dr. King did, there comes a time when silence is betrayal. Trump may be a clown, but he isn’t funny — he’s not a ‘riverboat gambler’ to be admired. He’s not a ‘net benefit’, to your campaign, or to the country. He’s a demagogue and he’s menace. Any politician who stays silent, or hopes to fly under the radar, is complicit in his campaign of hate and division — and deserves to be judged harshly. It may not happen immediately, but I fundamentally believe history will not be kind to those who stood by or shrugged off the shameful candidacy of Donald J. Trump. America is too great a country — a greatness which is derived from our diversity — to believe otherwise.”