Wednesday, May 02, 2012

First They Came For The Japanese: A Timely Reminder

We Japanese Americans must not forget our wartime internment

The degrading treatment of Japanese American families like mine is the theme of my new musical, Allegiance
George Takei
27 April 2012

Seventy years ago, US soldiers bearing bayoneted rifles came marching up to the front door of our family's home in Los Angeles, ordering us out. Our crime was looking like the people who had bombed Pearl Harbor a few months before. I'll never forget that day, nor the tears streaming down my mother's face as we were forcibly removed, herded off like animals, to a nearby race track. There, for weeks, we would live in a filthy horse stable while our "permanent" relocation camp was being constructed thousands of miles away in Arkansas, in a place called Rohwer.

I recently revisited Rohwer. Gone were the sentry towers, armed guards, barbed wire and crudely constructed barracks that defined our lives for many years. The swamp had been drained, the trees chopped down. Only miles and miles of cotton fields. The only thing remaining was the cemetery with two tall monuments.

Because I was a child, I didn't understand the depth of the degradation and deprivation my parents suffered, or how courageous and foresighted my mother had been to smuggle a sewing machine into camp, which permitted her to make modest curtains for our bare quarters. I didn't grasp what a blow the ordeal was to my father's role as provider, as he struggled to keep our family together. The family ate, bathed and did chores along with a whole community, pressed together in the confines of a makeshift camp, in the oppressive heat and mosquito-infested swamps of Arkansas.

Later my family would be shipped to a high-security camp in Tule Lake, California, constructed in a desolate, dry lake bed in the north of the state. Three layers of barbed-wire fences now confined us. Out of principle, my parents had refused to answer yes to a "loyalty" questionnaire the government had promulgated. It had asked whether they would serve in the US army and go wherever ordered, and whether they would swear allegiance to the US government and "forswear" loyalty to the Japanese emperor – as if any had ever sworn such loyalty in the first instance.

Because the government had already taken so much from us, and broken its promise of "liberty and justice for all", how could my parents give them the satisfaction of a forced oath? I still remember the irony of holding my hand to my heart and pledging allegiance to the US flag in the tar-paper barrack schoolroom, even as armed guards watched over us and barbed wire kept us locked inside that prison, without charge, trial or due process.

My father once said: "America is a democracy as great as the people can be, but also as fallible." When I was a teenager, I began to understand better what had been done to us, and to question my own father about it. In one heated exchange, I said to him angrily: "Why didn't you do anything, Daddy? You led us like sheep to slaughter!" And for the first time, I saw the great sadness in his eyes as he said simply,: "Maybe you're right" – and turned and walked from the table, shutting his bedroom door behind him.

I will always regret those words. The tragedy of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans was not only that it was the greatest violation of our constitutional guarantees, but that it broke apart families and whole communities, and left scars that today remain unhealed, even after the government later apologised and issued reparations. It was almost a half-century too late. President Ronald Reagan only reluctantly signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. It expressed regret for the injustice and paid a token redress of $20,000 to those survivors still alive. My father had already passed away in 1979, never to know of the apology or receive the redress money. I donated the sum to the most fitting institution, the Japanese American National Museum, which tells the story of the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry.

When I returned to Rohwer this year, it was not in anger or sadness, but with a deep resolve to help ensure such a thing never happens again within our shores. I will soon be appearing in Allegiance, the first piece of American musical theatre to ever address the subject of the internment, which remains one of the darkest and most little-known chapters of our history. We also plan to bring the show to the great stage of Broadway next year, so that the world can hear the story and our profound message: "Never forget, never again." Gruniad

Following Carlin's recommendation, some snippets from Google search, japanese americans 1942 wiki.

Where have we heard this before?

Those that were as little as 1/16 Japanese could be placed in internment camps. There is evidence supporting the argument that the measures were racially motivated, rather than a military necessity. For example, orphaned infants with "one drop of Japanese blood" (as explained in a letter by one official) were included in the program.

Ah! the old self interest. Not much changes does it? 150 Jews were massacred in York’s Clifford Tower 1190AD

(A farmer speaking) "We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It's a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over... If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we'd never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either."

Surveillance and data gathering. But we don't have to worry about such things being misused do we? Not in these enlightened times I'm sure.

As early as 1939, when war broke out in Europe and while armed conflict began to rage in East Asia, the FBI and branches of the Department of Justice and the armed forces began to collect information and surveillance on influential members of the Japanese community in the United States.....

.......After the Pearl Harbor attacks, Roosevelt authorized his attorney general to put into motion a plan for the arrest of individuals on the potential enemy alien lists. Armed with a blanket arrest warrant, the FBI seized these men on the eve of December 8, 1941.

One good man.

During World War II, Colorado governor Ralph Lawrence Carr was the only elected official to publicly apologize for the internment of American citizens. The act cost him reelection, but gained him the gratitude of the Japanese American community, such that a statue of him was erected in Sakura Square in Denver's Japantown. japanese americans 1942 wiki.

World War Two - Japanese Internment Camps in the USA

Alleged US Army doc: re-education camps and psy-op missions aimed at activists 03 May, 2012


Anonymous said...

120,000 Japanese people were imprisoned, and you can times that number by like 50 and you will get how many Chinese people were slaughtered by the Japanese dogs.

Himself said...

And what brand of dog are you?