Donald Trump's Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, currently under scrutiny for spending $130,000 of taxpayers' money on new doors for his office, is under fire again, but for a completely different reason.
When asked whether the US would keep giving grants for preserving the history of Japanese-American confinement, Int… https://t.co/fiOuq3IGnk— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeed News)1521166920.0
During a House budget hearing for the Interior Department, Zinke offered a callous, racially-veiled response to a question asked Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI).
Hanabusa wanted to know why Zinke cut funding for the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, a program that protects historic camps in which Japanese-American citizens were detained during World War II.
"Oh, konnichiwa," Interior Sec. Zinke said to Hawaii Rep. Hanabusa, after she asked about preserving the history of… https://t.co/nhQWPdtElj— NBC News (@NBC News)1521208635.0
“I did not find out about the fact that my grandfather was interned on Oahu for a lot of the wartime until he was eightysomething years old because they didn’t speak about it,” Hanabusa said, emphasizing the historical value of the JACS program. “So Mr. Secretary ... even with the president zeroing it out, are you committed to continue the grants program? Will we see it funded again in 2018?”
When asked whether the US would keep giving grants for preserving the history of Japanese-American confinement, Int… https://t.co/NKJmgk8cX9— Kate Nocera (@Kate Nocera)1521158965.0
Zinke replied with "Oh, Konnichiwa," the Japenese word for "good afternoon." Considering the hearing was taking place in the morning, Zinke's response didn't go over too well. “I think it’s still ‘Ohayo gozaimasu,’ but that’s okay,” Hanabusa replied. Ohayo gozaimasu translates as "good morning." Following the awkward exchange, Zinke agreed to investigate the program in question.
Zinke's comments received some harsh criticism from activists and lawmakers.
“I was outraged,” said Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, which gets its funding through Jacs, “first by Secretary Zinke’s disrespect to Rep. Hanabusa and second to his ignorance to teaching the lessons of American history.”
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) sent Zinke a tweet in which she called his comments "flippant and juvenile."
The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke. What you thought was a… https://t.co/hmBS6Cx51N— Senator Mazie Hirono (@Senator Mazie Hirono)1521149587.0
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) responded on Twitter as well. "Nope, racism is not okay," she wrote.
Nope. Racism is not ok. https://t.co/wWopw5Vctu— Tammy Duckworth (@Tammy Duckworth)1521166308.0
Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) said Zinke's choice of words was "blatantly insensitive" and demonstrate "behavior that a cabinet secretary should not exhibit."
My colleague asked Sec. Zinke a serious question about gov't funding and received the response "Konnichiwa". This b… https://t.co/cw5smcmlor— Grace Meng (@Grace Meng)1521149247.0
Twitter wasn't going to let Zinke's comments go unchecked, either.
"The patronizing racism and privilege" made Jeff Yang "tremble with rage."
Trump Interior Sec @RyanZinke responded “Konnichiwa” to @RepHanabusa when she asked him to restore slashed funds to… https://t.co/5dkSqkNzkw— Jeff Yang (@Jeff Yang)1521182054.0
Several women who attended the hearing, some of whom are descendants of Japanese-American citizens that were forced into internment camps, were plainly shocked by the secretary's comments.
Ryan Zinke answered a question about historical preservation and Japanese internment from a Hawaiian congresswoman… https://t.co/1JwWE8cP41— Jordan E. Taylor (@Jordan E. Taylor)1521143667.0
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) torched Zinke's insensitive choice of words in a statement to Talking Points Memo.
“The injustice of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans was due to the very racist sentiments unintentionally exhibited in Secretary Zinke’s flippant comment, that Japanese Americans were and are perpetually foreign,” JACL said to TPM on Friday. “If anything, Secretary Zinke’s comment clarifies and reinforces the need for full funding of the JACS program. … We urge Congress to continue funding of the JACS program at the same level as years past.”
The JACL had some strong words for Zinke's extremely weird/offensive, fake accent "konnichiwa" remark to a Japanese… https://t.co/uD7kUOprPo— Nicole Lafond (@Nicole Lafond)1521219186.0