Letters to the editor
Legacy of fear
War hysteria makes enemies of Americans
Editor, The Times:
Regarding "A reasonable discussion of Japanese internment" (Times, John Leo syndicated column, Sept. 21):
My great-grandmother and her family were not part of an espionage network. Most were American citizens, yet they were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to live behind barbed wire.
John Leo states most "couldn't or wouldn't" relocate. How easy would it have been to find a new home and new job, given the racist attitudes of the time? My family could not afford the expense of moving to another city, nor did they have sufficient time to get their affairs in order for such an undertaking. Obviously, Leo hasn't got a clue about the realities of what they were facing.
It was wrong then to violate the civil rights of innocent people, just as it would be wrong now. After 9/11, the government has not repeated the mistake with Arab Americans (most of whom are Christians, not Muslim). The hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (which is why George Bush went to war with Iraq).
We are not in danger from our fellow Americans.
— Tina Yamagiwa, Seattle
Speaking from experience
John Leo is to be congratulated for his commentary on the Japanese interment in World War II. Most of those who are writing about this subject were not even born at that time. They did not live with the shock and the fear that went through this country.
We knew about the suffering of the Chinese people at the hands of the Japanese. Our country had few military personnel and, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was almost no U.S. Navy left.
The West Coast, where most of the interments took place, was extremely vulnerable. With good reason, it was necessary to do what we could to protect ourselves. I agree it is a shame that a few had to suffer for the good of the many. But you had to be here then to appreciate what the people of our country were going through.
— Suzanne Emery, Anacortes
Revise the future
Executive Order (EO) 9066 authorized the establishment of military areas from which persons may be excluded. That authority was delegated to John L. DeWitt. His decision to exclude only ethnic Japanese was based upon his racist belief that it was impossible to separate the loyal from the disloyal.
The authority to intern Japanese Americans was not granted under EO 9066. In fact, it wasn't approved until that action was a fait accompli.
A federal commission and the courts reviewed the "Magic" cables in the 1980s and rejected the contention that they were any part of the justification for en masse removal.
Racism was the cornerstone of the decision to exclude, remove and detain. A grave injustice was perpetrated against ethnic Japanese without individual review or evidence of wrongdoing.
An "open and honest discussion of internment, past and present," as Leo wrote, would be best reflected by starting with an acknowledgement that it should never happen again.
— Karen Yoshitomi, Seattle
Past is analogue
John Leo seems to have no contact with Japanese Americans and ignores the official records accompanying the legislation a few decades ago granting token redress (and a presidential apology) to our Japanese Americans for their incarceration (during World War II).
We who can remember the pre-war bias against non-whites can readily understand how much prejudice and ignorance infused the pre-war "intelligence" and misinformed our military and political leaders of the time.
Anyone writing on the topic should first study the source materials (denigrated by Leo as the "orthodox view"). Readily available, for example, is UW professor Tetsuden Kashima's authoritative treatment in "Judgment without Trial."
Is Leo's subtext a deep aversion to admitting that we of the white majority have made grave mistakes in the past? His words and Michelle Malkin's suggest that conclusion. For their twisted justification of the wartime Japanese internment then lets them accept the similarly egregious suspension of U.S.-resident Muslims' constitutional rights, an action that surely has contributed to America's precipitous loss of respect around the world.
— Hugh Burleson (retired foreign service officer), Bellevue
Magic and illusion
John Leo's column echoes Michelle Malkin, (who) asserts incorrectly that pre-World War II decoded Magic cables revealed a Japanese spy network that ostensibly included Japanese immigrants and their American-citizen children, thus justifying their indiscriminate and total incarceration.
Japan, in fact, also mistrusted them and none of the 284,853 Japanese Americans was judged to have committed any acts of espionage or sabotage. Then, was Magic influential in the decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans? All who had direct access to Magic have died.
John J. McCloy, a confidant to those with access, was asked in 1981: "Would it be fair then to say that the decision [resulting in the incarceration] was made not on the basis of actual events of sabotage or espionage known to the War Department, but on the fear of possible future actions, is that right?" McCloy: "Yes. Except of course, the Pearl Harbor attack itself."
Actions taken against individuals or groups must be based on proven evidence, due process, and reasoned justice. This is the American way.
— Tetsuden Kashima, Mercer Island
Cat in the act
The road to find out
The deportation of Cat Stevens, a.k.a. Yusuf Islam, from the United States earlier this week is a disturbing development ("Singer formerly known as Cat Stevens deported," page one, Sept. 23). Stevens is highly respected by many in this country, including me, for his contributions to music and especially for the messages of peace and tolerance in his songs.
Why was he barred from entering the United States? All the government will tell us, according to the Associated Press, is that he has engaged in "activities that could be potentially linked to terrorism."
When a government seals our borders to artists who have consistently denounced terrorism but who have also spoken out against the policies of our government (as Stevens has, on both counts), it is hard not to suspect that government of disingenuousness. We should press our lawmakers for a full investigation of this matter.
— Eric Rose, Seattle
Miles from nowhere
So is the U.S. now finding Muslim converts guilty before the proof is found?
Cat Stevens sang of peace, love and all the other good "Christian" qualities that George Bush proclaims. Perhaps he is a Muslim right now because he did not run into Christians who actually walked their faith?
This smacks of election-year hysteria to try to sway the votes of the less-rational voter.
— Delores Boone, Monroe
Ready for a walk?
Incredible — talk about a long journey. It's fantastic that the Sawyers finally found their four-legged family member ("Six years later, ex-puppy is glad to be back home," Local News, Sept. 20). As an electrical engineering student, I think those animal-implantable RFID tags are exemplary applications of an otherwise controversial technology, as I'm sure this fortunate family can attest to.
And I just gotta ask — is (Griffey the dog's owner) Alex single? Wow, is she ever gorgeous! (Oh, and I like long walks on overcast, rainy Seattle beaches.)
Single at UW.
— Justin Reed, Redmond
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