Duckworth on Zinke improper use of Japanese: 'Racism is not ok'

Lucy Bush
March 17, 2018

"Secretary Zinke's gaffe demonstrates how little we have learned from our history and why the administration must continue to fund these memorials", Asian Americans Advancing Justice said in its statement.

Rep. Hanabusa, who had earlier mentioned that her grandfathers were interned during World War II, had asked Zinke about the future of a grant program that many fear to be in danger under President Donald Trump's proposed 2019 budget.

Hanabusa asked Zinke during a budget hearing for the Interior Department on Thursday whether he would ensure funding for a grant program, known as the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, which seeks to preserve the history of World War II-era Japanese internment camps.

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"No better example of why we need continued support for historical sites where the rights of Japanese Americans were violated b/c of race".

"Konnichiwa", Zinke replied, using the Japanese word meaning "good afternoon".

"Rather than greet her like he would any other Member of Congress, he responded to her as if she did not speak any English", Rep.

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There were strong reactions to Zinke's comments, but beyond that, some experts argue it's indicative of the lack of knowledge about Japanese-American history.

United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently had a cringe-worthy moment when he tried, and failed miserably, to pander to Hawaii representative Colleen Hanabusa.

Seventy-six years ago, about 120,000 mostly Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps after the the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who was born in Japan, wrote on Twitter.

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Zinke's remarks reveal that he has yet to understand the gravity of the incarceration of Japanese-Americans, according to Aarti Kohli, executive director of the affiliated group Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus. Zinke then committed to "look into it" and work with the Congresswoman on the grant because he agreed on its importance.

Other reports by Info About Network

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