Outraged responses to Mark Kirk's racist jab at Tammy Duckworth are pouring in.

In the Illinois senatorial debate Oct. 27, 2016, incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk responded to a challenge about foreign policy with a shocking joke that mocked opponent Tammy Duckworth's mixed-race heritage.

Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images.

Duckworth, who was born in Thailand and lost both legs while serving in Iraq, was touting her qualifications in evaluating the need for future military action, citing her family's long history of service:


"My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution. I'm a daughter of the American Revolution. I've bled for this nation. But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound because people are quick to sound the drums of war. And I want to be there to say, 'This is what it costs, this is what you're asking us to do, and if that's the case, I'll go.' Families like mine are the ones that bleed first. But let's make sure the American people understand what we are engaging in, and let's hold our allies accountable because we can't do it all."

To which Kirk responded:

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

After the debate, Duckworth responded on Twitter with a family photo:

The rest of Twitter was ... not so gentle to Kirk.

The comments elicited strong reactions from voters, many of whom were outraged and upset.

Others noted the irony of Kirk having previously been caught of inflating his own military record, including making a false claim that he served in the Gulf War.

Some vowed to take their outrage with them the ballot box.

"Looking white" isn't a prerequisite for having a long, distinguished family history of military service.

Neither is being born in the United States. (Lots of foreigners — Frenchmen, Germans, and Poles in particular — served in the Revolutionary War, FWIW.)

Asian-American soldiers have fought in every major American war since the Civil War, and their representation in uniform is increasing.

Disagreeing over the proper role of the military shouldn't mean disagreeing on who looks like they have the right to join the conversation.

Kirk issued a statement shortly after the debate, affirming his respect for Duckworth's family's service but refusing to walk back his comments.

He tweeted an apology the next day:

The debate about how America should deploy its men and women in uniform is complex and critically important. That debate is not just for white people and hasn't been for decades. One's share of whiteness doesn't track with the amount one is allowed to contribute.

Roughly 7% of Americans — like Duckworth — are multiracial.

Duckworth with another multiracial American you might have heard of. Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

That's about 22 million Americans.

And just like many of them serve their country in times of war, they also serve their country by voting.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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