Bill O’Reilly is really confused by Hawaii – or, more specifically, Hawaii’s Asian-American population.
On Thursday’s O’Reilly Factor, the Fox News host sat down with producer Jesse Watters in a bid to address what he sees as an apparent series of contradictions in Hawaii, where “not liberal, [but] industrious and hard-working” Asians make up 35% of the population.
O’Reilly began the segment by summarizing Hawaii’s social problems as “rampant” drug addiction, homelessness and “enormous debt,” before pondering the state’s voting record. Hawaii is a Democrat stronghold, and saw over 70 percent of voters backing Obama in the 2012 election. O’Reilly admitted this confused him, because:
“Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working.”
O’Reilly and Watters then proceeded to tot up Hawaii’s various minority groups, before coming to the conclusion that white people were outnumbered “by more than two to one,” thus explaining Obama’s election success there.
The full transcript (you can watch the footage below) between O’Reilly and Watters (courtesy of Media Matters) went as follows:
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.
Since O’Reilly made his remarks, Democrat Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has called for the conservative talk show to apologize to Hawaii and all Asian-Americans for his clumsy characterization of the isles’ population. In a statement describing O’Reilly’s remarks as “one-dimensional”, Hanabusa said:
“Leave it to Bill O’Reilly to thoughtlessly insult 1.3 million people with one sweeping misstatement.”
“[…] 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.’ “
The reaction in the Twittersphere to O’Reilly’s broad brush stereotyping is, predictably, not entirely favorable:
— Rima Regas (@Rima_Regas) January 5, 2013
— Dennis Kauka Jr (@denniskjr) January 5, 2013
What do you make of Bill O’Reilly’s comments about Asian-Americans?