Duckworth, veterans fire back at Cruz after 'emasculated military' comments

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Senate panel votes to scrap Iraq war authorizations | Police officer fatally stabbed outside Pentagon ID'd | Biden admin approves first Taiwan arms sale Senate panel votes to repeal Iraq war authorizations America's pandemic of COVID hypocrisy MORE (R-Texas) is facing backlash from veterans groups and former service members after he claimed that new promotional videos are pushing a “woke, emasculated military.”

Cruz made the remark on Twitter on Thursday, sharing a video displaying an apparent Russian military advertisement showing images of men with shaved heads doing push-ups and jumping out of a plane.

The video then cuts to an animated story of U.S. Army Cpl. Emma Malonelord discussing her mothers’ wedding, marching for LGBTQ rights and joining the military.

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“I like to think I’ve been defending freedom from an early age,” Malonelord said in the ad.

“Holy crap. Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea....” the Texas senator wrote.

The tweet immediately sparked backlash, generating so many response tweets that #emasculaTED trended on Twitter, The Washington Post reported.

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense: Biden administration expands Afghan refugee program | Culture war comes for female draft registration | US launches third Somalia strike in recent weeks Overnight Defense: Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill | House panel looks to help military sexual assault survivors | US increases airstrikes to help Afghan forces fight Taliban Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D-Ill.), a retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel who lost her legs in combat back in 2004, fired back with her own tweet.

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“Holy crap. Perhaps a U.S. Senator shouldn't suggest that the *Russian* military is better than the American military that protected him from an insurrection he helped foment?” Duckworth wrote.

“Perhaps he should be thanking these badass women?” Duckworth added in a follow-up tweet that included a picture of female troops outside the U.S. Capitol.

Several other critics piled on Cruz’s tweet.

“Ted Cruz attacks a US Army soldier for telling her story, says he prefers Russians,” wrote VoteVets, a liberal political group that advocates for veterans running for office. “Because Ted Cruz is a sedition-loving traitor.”

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Cruz, however, appeared unbothered by the backlash.

“I’m enjoying lefty blue checkmarks losing their minds over this tweet, dishonestly claiming that I’m ‘attacking the military,’ ” he wrote late Thursday. “ Uh, no. We have the greatest military on earth, but Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn them into pansies. The new Dem videos are terrible.”

The Post noted that the original TikTok video that Cruz shared has undetermined origins. The handle that originally posted the clip, @thoughtcrimes_, has been deactivated and its videos were removed.

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The video initially surfaced on Twitter when a Dutch user who frequently posts far-right content shared it, according to Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow for the United Kingdom-based Center for Analysis of the Radical Right

Ross told the Post that the clip had been surfacing on channels that promote fascist and antisemitic beliefs.

“Ted Cruz is obviously sharing this video that I’ve seen bouncing around some of the most violent and anti-American Telegram accounts that I monitor,” he said. “It just struck me as odd.”

Cruz's office did not respond to the Post’s inquiry about whether he vetted the source of the video before sharing it.

The Army released the animated recruitment videos earlier this month to highlight “the deeply emotional and diverse origin stories” of five different soldiers.

"Research tells us that young people today see the Army as a 'distant star'  a place requiring a nearly superhuman level of discipline with little relevance to their daily lives," said Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of the Army Enterprise Marketing Office. "Similarly, youth don't necessarily connect with those who serve or see common ground in terms of interests, abilities, and goals. 'The Calling' shatters these misperceptions by showing that Soldiers are all of us: real people with hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, families, friends, and obstacles to overcome."

However, the video featuring Malonelord was flooded with so much negativity that the comment section was disabled.

“Beginning May 12 we started noticing a significant uptick in negative commentary,” Laura DeFrancisco, public affairs chief for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office, told Army Times. “The comments violated our social media policy and were not aligned with Army values. Out of respect for the safety and wellbeing of our soldiers and their families, we have disabled the comments.”