Duckworth on Zinke's improper use of Japanese: ‘Racism is not ok’

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems should run as economic progressives, says ex-Obama strategist Democrats must reconcile party factions to raise blue wave odds Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (D-Ill.) offered a condemnation of racism for Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeZinke must change direction and support conservation Energy development will likely land one bird on the Endangered Species list Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone MORE on Thursday after he responded in Japanese to a lawmaker's question about funding historical sites memorializing Japanese internment camps.

"Nope. Racism is not ok," Duckworth tweeted, posting a news article about the exchange between Zinke and Rep. Colleen HanabusaColleen Wakako HanabusaThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts Case makes political comeback by winning Hawaii House primary Hawaii’s governor makes improbable comeback MORE (D-Hawaii).

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Hanabusa asked Zinke during a budget hearing for the Interior Department on Thursday whether he would ensure funding for a grant program, known as the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, which seeks to preserve the history of World War II-era Japanese internment camps.

"Konnichiwa," Zinke replied, using a Japanese greeting commonly used to express "good afternoon."

"I think it's still 'ohayo gozaimasu,' but that’s okay," Hanabusa said, using the Japanese phrase for "good morning."

Zinke ultimately told Hanabusa he would look into the funding, saying "it is important" to preserve such sites.

The exchange also drew the ire of Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDem senator: Kavanaugh's credibility is 'already very questionable' Sunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Kavanaugh fight roils an already ugly political climate MORE (D-Hawaii), who slammed Zinke for acting "flippant" and "juvenile" in his response to Hanabusa's question.

"The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke. What you thought was a clever response to @RepHanabusa was flippant & juvenile," Hirono wrote in Twitter.