Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa responded Friday to remarks made Jan. 3 by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on social conditions in Hawaii, and his characterizations of Asian-Americans.
"Leave it to Bill O'Reilly to thoughtlessly insult 1.3 million people with one sweeping misstatement. Let's set the record straight. For the fourth quarter of 2012, Hawaii's major economic indicators were all positive. Visitor numbers are up, showing strength in our number one industry. Unemployment is down and personal income is up. The state's debt is stable and reasonable," said Hanabusa.
"However, I think O'Reilly's attempt to characterize Hawaii's Asian-American population is most insulting of all. 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. 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.'
"Finally, there is absolutely no justification for O'Reilly's claim that being 'hard working and industrious' is in any way incompatible with holding liberal political views. Hawaii is the 'bluest' state in America, and it has been built through the hard work of generations of people of all persuasions. Those who have succeeded through their own efforts do not turn their backs on those who continue to find themselves in need. We maintain our commitments to our seniors. We focus on ensuring that our children have access to educational opportunities. And we are industrious for the sake of our communities, not just for personal gain.
"Bill O'Reilly owes Hawaii and all 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.'"
The following is a transcript from MediaMatters.org of the portion of the statement Rep. Hanabusa is referring to:
BILL O'REILLY (host): Now I have to say, Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world. It's beautiful.
JESSE WATTERS (Fox News producer): Yeah, it's beautiful.
O'REILLY: But when I'm there I'm under water. I'm not talking to pinheads. But the state is in enormous debt.
WATTERS: They are.
O'REILLY: Alright. They've got a lot of social problems. When you says it's the biggest homeless thing, it's because of the addiction.
O'REILLY: The addiction is rampant, all over the place, because they don't enforce the drug laws.
O'REILLY: And, you know, I think the one person who said, Look, this is a place where people come to to escape. This is, you know, generally speaking. But you know what's shocking? 35 percent of the Hawaiian population is Asian, and Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They're usually more industrious and hard-working.
WATTERS: But they did vote for President Obama --
O'REILLY: Big time.
WATTERS: -- and if you add the indigenous native Hawaiian population --
O'REILLY: About 20 percent.
WATTERS: -- to the Hispanic population, they outnumber whites by more than two to one.