Rep. Colleen Hanabusa begins to speak about 10 minutes into the video above
The incident centers around Zinke’s tone-deaf reaction to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), whose grandfathers were incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II for their Japanese heritage. She said one of her grandfathers, a U.S. citizen, didn’t speak about the painful experience until much later in life.
Hanabusa shared the detail Thursday morning in a hearing with the interior secretary, seeking to persuade him to restore around $2 million in grant funds for organizations dedicated to preserving the memory of that ugly chapter in American history.
“I believe that it is essential that we as a nation recognize our darkest moments so that we don’t have them repeat again,” Hanabusa urged Zinke.
“My grandfather was born in Hawaii and is a citizen by birth,” Hanabusa noted during the hearing. Despite being a U.S. citizen, however, he was imprisoned in an Oahu camp called Honouliuli ― though the prisoners there used a different name: “jigokudani,” or “Hell’s Valley.”
After listening to her concerns, and for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Zinke responded to the U.S. representative with a cheery and extremely tone-deaf “Konnichiwa!”
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