American Lawmakers And Activists Skewer Ryan Zinke For 'Konnichiwa' Comment

American Lawmakers And Activists Skewer Ryan Zinke For 'Konnichiwa' Comment

American Lawmakers And Activists Skewer Ryan Zinke For 'Konnichiwa' Comment

According to Politico, Senator Mazie Hirono was not impressed by Ryan Zinke's "flippant and juvenile" response to a question about preserving internment sites. One of her grandfathers, a U.S. citizen kept in Oahu's "Hell's Valley" camp, couldn't even talk about his experience there until he was much older.

"No better example of why we need continued support for historical sites where the rights of Japanese Americans were violated b/c of race". After relaying that background, Hanabusa asked Zinke: "Will we see [the grants] funded again in 2018?"

As for Zinke's comments, Inoue says: "I think it was a ideal encapsulation of why this funding is so important, that it perfectly demonstrated the latent racism that does exist in this country".

Hanabusa then corrected Zinke, saying she thought it was still morning- "I think it's still 'ohayo gozaimasu, ' but that's OK", she said, referencing the phrase for "good morning".

Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, called the remark "blatantly insensitive".


The Congresswoman, whose US -born grandfather was imprisoned in a Japanese-American camp because of his heritage during World War II, said that she only recently learned about her family's history because of how little the issue is discussed.

Speaking at a meeting for the House Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday, Zinke made the inappropriate comment in response to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. She didnt find out about his incarceration until he was in his 80s, she said, because Japanese Americans "just did not speak about it".

Grants issued through the program have "kept this history alive", Hanabusa said.

Zinke said at Thursday's hearing that any absence of future funding for the program "probably got caught up" among other items in the budget and that he would look into it. Zinke thinks that was an oversight.

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.

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