Secretary Zinke Fails to Understand How to Appropriately Address Fellow Americans

May 30, 2018 Press Release
Contact: Jeffrey Moy, Vice President for Public Affairs, jmoy@jacl.org
David Inoue, Executive Director, dinoue@jacl.org

In an interview with Breitbart News Daily broadcasted on Monday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke doubled down on his defense of addressing United States Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa in Japanese. Secretary Zinke seems to believe that what many found offensive was the incorrect use of konnichiwa. We would like to remind the Secretary Zinke, that Congresswoman Hanabusa is American and deserves to be addressed in her native language of English.

What is most ironic in the interview is that Secretary Zinke earlier emphasized that “We are all Americans” regardless of our differences. Rather than actually following his own words, he chooses to promote the foreignness of a fellow American.

It is particularly disappointing that this interview took place on Memorial Day, when so many Americans across the country joined together to recognize and remember in particular the sacrifices of Japanese American soldiers who served during World War II. Their service was in spite of our own country having labeled them as foreign agents and conspirators while their own families remained imprisoned in American concentration camps.

We call on Secretary Zinke to consider his choice of words more carefully and to better learn the history of Japanese American incarceration. It is our hope that he can come to understand how the labeling of Japanese Americans as perpetually Japanese and foreign was a major factor leading to their mass imprisonment.

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