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Hawaii Congressman Under Fire for Asian Comments

Rep. Ed Case, accompanied by his wife, Audrey Nakamura, is sworn in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), recently sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives, is facing criticism for reportedly saying “I’m an Asian trapped in a white body” during event on Tuesday celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander advances in Congress.

Case’s comment was shared in a tweet by National Journal data and visualization fellow Nicholas Wu, who was present at the event in Washington.

On Twitter, the backlash to Case’s comments drew comparisons to the whitewash casting of Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell.”

In a statement to The Washington Post, Case said, “Like so many others from Hawaii who treasure our multicultural heritage, I have absorbed and live the values of our many cultures. They and not my specific ethnicity are who I am, and I believe that this makes me an effective advocate on national issues affecting our API community.

“I regret if my specific remarks to the national API community on my full absorption of their concerns caused any offense.”

Case was first elected to Congress in 2002 in a special election to fill the seat of the late Patsy Mink. He served from 2002 to 2007. He ran twice for Senate but lost in Democratic primaries to incumbent Daniel K. Akaka in 2006 and now-Sen. Mazie Hirono in 2012.

Spokesman Nestor Garcia said that Case’s comments included things that his wife, Audrey Nakamura, sometimes says about him. He is a returning executive committee member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

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