Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke found himself embroiled in some controversy after responding to a question from Democratic congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa from Hawaii. She was questioning him over funding for the Japanese American Confinement Sites program.
In response to the controversy, Secretary Zink explained that the phrase is innocent and inoffensive.
“How could ever saying ‘good morning’ be bad?” he asked while in Arizona during his U.S.-Mexico border tour.
civic groups and lawmakers argued that Zinke’s response perpetuated negative Japanese American stereotypes, and Democratic Representative Judy Chu from California argued that Zinke should apologize for his use of the remark, explaining that “Zinke’s comment betrayed a prejudice that being Asian makes you a perpetual foreigner. Intentional or not, it’s offensive. He should apologize.”
Congresswoman Hanabusa issued a statement detailing that “the real issue here is that the administration ignored one of the most racially motivated periods in American history by defunding the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program. When Secretary Zinke chose to address me in Japanese (when no one else was greeted in their ancestral language), I understood ‘this is precisely why Japanese Americans were treated as they were more than 75 years ago.”
When @SecretaryZinke chose to address me in Japanese (when no one else was greeted in their ancestral language), I understood ‘this is precisely why Japanese Americans were treated as they were more than 75 years ago. It is racial stereotyping.
— Colleen Hanabusa (@RepHanabusa) March 17, 2018