By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – A member of the U.S. House of Representative has demanded an apology from a Fox News host for what she called disparaging remarks against Hawaii and Asian-Americans.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said on Friday that Bill O’Reilly of Fox News “thoughlessly insulted 1.3 million people with one sweeping statement” for remarks on his program.
On Jan. 3, O’Reilly said, talking of Hawaii: “The state is in enormous debt. A lot of social problems. When you say it’s the biggest homeless thing, it’s because of the addiction. The addiction is rampant, all over the place, because they don’t enforce the drug laws.”
O’Reilly goes on to say, “You know what’s shocking? Thirty-five percent of the Hawaiian population is Asian. And Asian people are not liberal by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working.”
Hanabusa said that in the fourth quarter of 2012, Hawaii’s major economic indicators were all positive, visitors to the islands are up, unemployment is down and personal income is up.
“The state’s debt is stable and reasonable,” said Hanabusa.
KITV News of Honolulu, an ABC affiliate, reported Hanabusa’s statement after O’Reilly’s comments created a stir.
“Claiming that Asian-Americans are not liberal by nature because they are ‘hard working and industrious’ is the kind of one dimensional and paternalistic attitude that we should have gotten past decades ago,” said Hanabusa.
“Hawaii’s — and America’s — Asian-American communities are as rich and diverse as any in our nation. Attributing any broad set of characteristics to any large group only serves to encourage attitudes that ‘they’ are somehow different from ‘us.'”
She said O’Reilly owes Hawaii and Asian-Americans an apology.
“And the next time he visits our state, I encourage him to spend more time getting to know real people, and less time sitting next to the pool and grousing about what he thinks is going on ‘out there,'” Hanabusa said.
The 61-year-old Hanabusa, a fourth-generation Japanese-American, was born in Honolulu. Her parents ran a gas station in Waianae, a rural town on the west side of Oahu.
According to her official biography, her maternal great-grandparents emigrated from Japan to Hawaii and worked on a sugar plantation. Both Hanabusa’s grandfathers were interned during World War II.
She was elected to the Hawaii Senate in 1998. She was elected to the U.S. House in 2010.
She and her husband, former State Sheriff John Souza III, live in Honolulu. She is a Buddhist.
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