Steven Van Zandt sends touching gift to Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin as he fights cancer

Congressman’s bandanas have already elicited attempts by conservatives to ridicule his appearance

John Bowden
Washington DC
Monday 13 February 2023 10:01 GMT
Steven Van Zandt speaks in 2018
Steven Van Zandt speaks in 2018 (Getty Images for Ronald McDonald)

A member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band is teaming up with a Maryland congressman who has faced toxic comments from his conservative foes after appearing on the House floor wearing a bandana to cover his hair loss from chemotherapy.

Rep Jamie Raskin posted a picture of himself wearing a bandana gifted to him by the rocker Steven Van Zandt, himself known for an iconic covered-head look brought on by a childhood accident.

Mr Raskin began treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December.

“Look what I received from one of the greatest musicians on earth, a gift I will treasure almost as much as his song ‘I am a patriot,’” wrote Mr Raskin, adding: “You are about to see a step up in my chemo head-cover fashions for the next few months. Rock on Stevie, keep spreading the light.”

He later wished Mr Van Zandt well in a second post after the rocker went public with his Covid diagnosis.

Mr Raskin’s appearance has been subject to the mockery of the of the far-right’s more caustic media personalities in recent days. Newsmax host Greg Kelly became the latest prominent conservative to jump on that bandwagon on Thursday, deriding the congressman’s headcoverings as “durags” with a clear yet unexplained racial connotation.

Previously one of the House’s less-prominent members, Mr Raskin won admiration on the left and was villified by the right for his work on the January 6 committee.

That panel wrapped up its work in December, and recommended to the US Department of Justice that Donald Trump be prosecuted for multiple criminal counts, including giving comfort to an insurrection.

In December, Mr Raskin said that his cancer prognosis was “excellent” and would later go on to explain the effects of chemotherapy in an inteview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“I’m losing about 40 or 50 hairs a day, I would think, to chemo. So that’s upsetting,” he said in January. “But, otherwise, I’m hanging tough. And the doctors are very optimistic and I’m very optimistic that the chemo is going to get the cancer.”

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