Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly has drawn the ire of at least one member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa says the conservative talk show host owes Hawaii and all Asian-Americans an apology for his characterization of the isles’ population.
“Leave it to Bill O’Reilly to thoughtlessly insult 1.3 million people with one sweeping misstatement,” Hanabusa said in a statement.
On Thursday night’s episode of “The O’Reilly Factor,” the host devoted a segment to Hawaii, where President Barack Obama is vacationing with his family.
The segment questioned the state’s Democratic bent and liberalism among the population. Hawaii is among the bluest states in the country and voted 70 percent for President Barack Obama, a 1979 Punahou Shool graduate, in the last election.
O’Reilly and correspondent Jesse Watters, who was sent to Hawaii to do interviews, attempted to explain some of the state’s social ills, including “rampant” drug addiction, homelessness and “enormous debt.”
“You know what’s shocking?” O’Reilly said. “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 noted that for the fourth quarter of 2012, major economic indicators such as visitor arrivals, unemployment and personal income all were positive and she called the state’s debt “stable and reasonable.”
“However, I think O’Reilly’s attempt to characterize Hawaii’s Asian-American population is most insulting of all,” she said. “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.’”
She said there was “absolutely no justification” to his claim that being hard working and industrious is incompatible with holding liberal political views.
“Bill O’Reilly owes Hawaii and all Asian-Americans an apology,” she said. “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.’”