HONOLULU — State Rep. Beth Fukumoto, who recently changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, is no stranger to hate mail, but one letter caught her attention as it came on the heels of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va.
She posted the following letter, dated Aug. 9 and apparently from Los Angeles, on Facebook and Twitter on Aug. 16 (contains profanity and slurs):
“1) your poor grand parents got put into a camp in the USA? Boo hoo hoo — you Jap murdered thousands of servicemen at Pearl Harbor — did you forget that detail?
“2) you know how many refugee folks got accepted by Japan last year? 27 total. But … America should open their doors to millions of parasites.
“Pull your head out of your ass loser.
“We Trump people hate illegals, black thugs, Muslims and bombs, and gays who do nothing but bitch 24 hrs a day — and bleeding heart traitor morons like you who ‘condone’ it — go to Hell.”
“I just got this in the mail today,” Fukumoto wrote on Facebook. “It’s so painfully relevant to everything we’ve been watching on the news the past few days. #Racism & #WhiteNationalism are real issues in America — even in Hawaii. Our president’s words have consequences, and it’s time for all of our political leaders — Republicans, Democrats and everyone else — to work together to oppose his continuing incitement of hate in our country.”
Via Twitter, she told Trump, “You need to understand your words have consequences.”
The letter-writer was mistaken about Fukumoto’s family background — her grandparents were not incarcerated during World War II.
Calling the letter “more upsetting than usual,” Fukumoto told the Huffington Post, “One of the reasons that I switched parties is that I felt the Republican Party was unwilling to confront racism. Racism specifically in the party and racism as promoted by the nominee at the time, and now the president.”
As a Republican legislator, she said, her colleagues would dismiss her any time she spoke of the racism and sexism she experienced or when she would point out offensive rhetoric in Trump’s presidential campaign. She added she was treated that way despite the fact that she was the party’s minority leader in the State House of Representatives.
Despite Hawaii’s diversity, Fukumoto said she was made to feel that “my opinion always counted last because I was a minority and I was a woman.”
She explained that she publicized the letter to show that rising intolerance is not a figment of her imagination. “To see what’s going on nationally ― and really has been going on nationally for a long time ― minorities are being told, ‘You’re scared for no reason. You’re making things up. You’re the one inciting violence.’ I did want to weigh into that a little bit and say this is what’s actually happening, and it’s happening to people you know.”
Fukumoto has represented Mililani in the Legislature since 2012.