Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is being criticized for making a racist comment when speaking with a Hawaiian lawmaker.

House Natural Resources Committee Democrats/YouTube

Hawaiian lawmaker schools Trump official after he butchers Japanese greeting

It's rough.


Andrew Wyrich

Layer 8

Posted on Mar 15, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 9:38 pm CDT

A Hawaiian Democrat schooled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after he addressed her with a racist comment.

Speaking at a meeting for the House Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday, Zinke made the inappropriate comment in response to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

Hanabusa gave an in-depth history of several family members being placed in Japanese internment camps during World War I. She spoke about how her grandfather did not tell her about it until he was “80 something years old.”

Zinke’s cringe-worthy remark came after she asked him about President Donald Trump‘s elimination of the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program. The law establishing the grant authorized up to $38 million over the life of the program to “identify, research, evaluate, interpret, protect, restore, repair, and acquire historic confinement sites,” according to the National Park Service website.

Zinke, smiling, tried to say “good morning” but instead said “konnichiwa,” a term typically used for the afternoon.

After a brief awkward moment, Hanabusa responded: “I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu,’ [‘good morning’] but that’s okay.”

It’s just as bad as it sounds (the exchange happens around the 12:18 mark).

Zinke said the lack of funding for the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program may have been an “oversight” and added that: “I understand the importance of it to American history.”

The interior secretary drew some scrutiny in October when Whitefish Energy, a Montana-based company with two employees from his hometown, was awarded a $300 million contract to repair transmission lines in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria hitting the island.

On Twitter, people criticized Zinke for being racist.

Not a good look.

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*First Published: Mar 15, 2018, 9:28 pm CDT