Interior Secretary's response to hearing about Japanese American incarceration: "Konnichiwa"

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was not amused.

"Konnichiwa." Wow. So you know one fucking Japanese word. Slow clap.

It's one thing -- annoying as shit -- when some fool tries to bust one of these on you in a bar or on the street. (Asian folk, raise your hand if you've been on the receiving end of an unsolicited "konnichiwa" or a "ni hao.") It's wholly inappropriate when it happens during a hearing of the United States Congress.

But that's what happened Thursday during a hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), who is Japanese American, was pressing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about re-funding a National Park Service program that offers grants towards the preservation of incarceration sites where Japanese Americans -- including Hanabusa's grandparents -- were held during World War II.

"Are you committed to continue to grant programs that are identified, I believe, as the Japanese American Confinement Sites grants program which were funded in 2017? Will we see them funded again in 2018?" Hanabusa asked.

Zinke's response: "Oh, konnichiwa."

I imagine Rep. Hanabusa had to summon every molecule of her being to suppress an eye roll.

She handles the moment with as much patience as she can, correcting Zinke with the appropriate greeting for "good morning." But this is just plain offensive. Zinke is the guy who approaches Asian people at the bar and opens with "ni hao"... like we're supposed to be impressed? Like that shit's charming?

Was Zinke even listening? Rep. Hanabusa was just talking about her own family's experience being incarcerated during World War II, and the importance of remembering the mistakes of history.

"I sit before you the granddaughter of two internees, both of my grandfathers were interned during World War II," Hanabusa said. "It is essential that we as a nation recognize our darkest moments so that we don't have them repeat again."

It's like Zinke just zeroed in on "Japanese" and thought, I know a clever thing to say!

Whatever the hell Zinke thought he was doing, the remark quickly drew criticism from other lawmakers.

Zinke said funding for the preservation grants were probably tied up in larger 2018 budgetary items, but for what it's worth, he said he was committed work with Hanabusa on the matter.

Doesn't excuse him for saying stupid racist shit.

Special shout out to that woman in the back. She gets it.

More here: Japanese-American senator hits Zinke over ‘flippant’ response on preserving internment sites

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