OCHAZUKE: WORDS MATTER

16

(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on April 7, 2010.)

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By GWEN MURANAKA

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Why do you still talk about the camps? We get that question a lot, particularly as the calls come to freshen content for The Rafu to become younger and more relevant. There is some truth to the comment. In order to draw a younger audience, the few Japanese American newspapers still out there have to strike out from beyond just writing about topics that Nisei are interested in.

But when so many in the mainstream media are so wrong on the issue — when the Lillian Baker-types are now running blogs and appearing on Fox — than where but in publications such as these will the experience be talked about in proper context? Newsrooms are shrinking or disappearing altogether. There are fewer staff to write long, in-depth pieces and too often the loudest voices, who can write on deadline, are likely to be the ones who get heard.

In 2004, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin wrote a book stating that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was justified, and that racial profiling of Arabs was necessary to fight the war on terrorism following the 9/11 attacks.

It can be argued that Malkin is an extremist, but even so-called sympathetic voices can be misguided. Last week, the Orange County Register ran an article, “Manzanar relocation camp was bad, but no Bataan.” Columnist John Hall in an earlier column wrote about his visit to the Japanese American National Museum and Manzanar. With that much research, you’d think he’d get the story right.

Hall qualifies the suffering of the men, women and children who were imprisoned in the Japanese American camps by saying, “Even at its worst, though, Manzanar was far from being the concentration camp some have labeled it. It was no Bataan Death March.

“Many Japanese Americans understood the reasoning for it because of the panic over possible invasion that seized the USA, particularly those of us on the West Coast, after Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941) and the reported submarine attacks off the shores of Santa Barbara and Seattle.”

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga holds a copy of her essay, “Word can Lie or Clarify,” at the JAHSSC book faire in Torrance last month. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Huh? This comparing of historical atrocities is belittling and pointless. As if human suffering were sports statistics to compare. How do you compare the suffering in Rwanda or Darfur? In Nagasaki or Hiroshima? In the case of Japanese Americans, the comparison misses the point that these were American citizens whose rights were taken away by their own government, in an atmosphere of racial hysteria.

At the St. Louis Dispatch, a reviewer’s comments about the injustice of the camps in a recent review of the HBO series, “The Pacific,” got a reader to complain that it was the “(political) left’s (requisite) slap at internment camps.”

Columnist Joe Holleman rightly puts the reader in his place, saying that a “slap at the U.S. for its domestic Japanese internment camps is not an issue of right vs. left, no matter how illogically partisan this nation has become.”

There is a revisionist creep in interpretations of the camp experience that is troubling. Of course, the latest is the move by the Texas Board of Education to teach students that the forced evacuation and incarceration of Japanese Americans was not racially motivated. I found it interesting that the board member who pushed that through, David Bradley, is from Beaumont, Texas, once the site of the notorious Jap Road.

Thankfully there are voices of reason on the other side. Scholars such as Eric Muller, and activists like Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga have done much to focus an unyielding eye on that terrible chapter in history. Their voices are too few, their venues too small. But at least they are out there.

Herzig-Yoshinaga has written an essay, “Words Can Lie or Clarify,” which serves as a courageous bookend to her work at the National Archives uncovering documents for the redress movement. She takes on the very language we use to talk about the internment, even the word “internment” itself.

As she cites in her essay, “Internment is a well-defined legal process by which enemy nationals who were not allowed to become U.S. citizens, are placed in confinement in time of war … what happened to the West Coast Japanese was lawless. Citizen and alien, male and female, old and young, all were simply swept up, placed in the holding pens from Santa Anita to Puyallup, and then shipped out to ten desolate camps.”

Her voice is important and needs to be heard. This is why we still talk about the camps.

The nuances of language, the power of words to shape how we perceive events, is a power which should not be conceded to those whose agenda is to obfuscate or twist the truth.
“I am certainly not alone, nor among the first, to be concerned about the power of words to lie or clarify, and the need to identify and replace inaccurate and misleading euphemisms that were used by government officials at all levels and perpetuated by many Nikkei as well,” Yoshinaga says.

Amen to that.

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Gwen Muranaka is
Rafu English editor-in-chief. Ochazuke is a staff-written column. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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16 Comments

  1. Yeah, and let’s not forget how many of those illegally incarcerated citizens volunteered for the US Armed Services and were part of the most decorated regiment in the history of the United States!

  2. Another valid reason to still talk about the camps is human — JAs took it, endured it, and ate it. Woody Allen joked about keeping it inside and growing a tumor.

    We invented a Yankee enryo, took the shame for anything, we sacrificed the self in a country of Me — Oh what a nice new car. It’s okay that it’s on my foot.

    Our greatest generation passes. They are the ones who went. They are the ones who should get the chance to talk and share and vent and stand proud. Whether the Malkins want to hear it or not.

  3. You mentioned Michelle Malkin’s position that racial profiling was necessary to fight the war on terror. But then you referred to her as an extremist and did not offer a substantive rebuttal to her position. You’re better off not mentioning her at all if you’re just going to engage in an ad hominem attack. After all, words matter.

    Score one for Malkin.

  4. By the way, you started off the article lamenting that so many in the mainstream media get it wrong about the camps. But then you use someone you describe as “an extremist” to make your point.

    Is Malkin mainstream or extremist?

    If she’s mainstream, why call her an extremist?

    If she an extremist, why complain about the mainstream media?

    Where is the intellectual consistency in your position?

  5. “I found it interesting that the board member who pushed that through, David Bradley, is from Beaumont, Texas, once the site of the notorious Jap Road.”

    Nice one! You manage to sneak in a red herring against Bradley based on his residence, without ANY evidence that he had anything to do with Jap Road, which incidentally was named decades before he was born and at a time when the word “Jap” was not a pejorative.

    Imagine if someone wrote, “I find it interesting that Gwen Muranaka is from Los Angeles, once the home of the notorious O.J. Simpson.”

    Ridiculous, irresponsible. inexcusable.

  6. “Hall qualifies the suffering of the men, women and children who were imprisoned in the Japanese American camps by saying, ‘Even at its worst, though, Manzanar was far from being the concentration camp some have labeled it. It was no Bataan Death March’…Huh? This comparing of historical atrocities is belittling and pointless. As if human suffering were sports statistics to compare.”

    I think one can disagree about a comparison of Manzanar and Bataan (which is really comparing treatment by the US Government to that by the Japanese Army), but I don’t see how anyone can dispute the accuracy of Hall’s comparison. Manzanar doesn’t come close to Bataan.

    I like the use of the word “camp.” When I saw the exhibit at JANM and then later a similar exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute of American History, my first reaction was a comparison to my summer camp days where we lived in similar rustic cabins (that frankly were not nearly as nice as those in the exhibits).

    You also say a comparison is “belittling.” How? You never explain but just say it as if saying it makes it self-evident. Comparing experiences is something we do everyday. It’s how we cope in the world and it helps us make decisions. I see Hall’s comparison as an attempt to educate his readers about the relative level of suffering. As bad as the camp experience was, it didn’t compare to the way US soldiers were treated in the war. It’s easier to understand how bad the camps were by providing a frame of reference. But I don’t see how the comparison “misses the point.” Hall clearly acknowledges the suffering:

    “It was a virtual prison with barbed-wire fences, armed guards and gun towers for the mostly innocent bystanders and otherwise good citizens who were stripped of their businesses, life’s earnings and dignity in the fear they might be spies.”

  7. To Rafu Fan,

    Malkin is a mainstream extremist. It is possible to be both.

    The point about Bradley was that the people of Beaumont didn’t want to get rid of the name, despite being explained how racially insensitive it was. Bradley is a board member on the Texas board of education. He has been one of the main cogs in pushing to get the “racial motivation” behind the incarceration of Japanese Americans stricken from the history books. The writer of this opinion piece is simply stating that the connection is a bit curious.

    Perhaps connecting point A, “Jap Road” and point B, Bradley’s quest to change history books concerning Japanese American incarceration, is not wholly justifiable. But, seeing as how the population of Beaumont is a little over 110,000, when it smells like fire and you see black smoke, and someone comes running out screaming “There’s a fire!” it’s a pretty safe bet to start making assumptions.

    Los Angeles has nearly 100 times more people than Beaumont and is one of the most racially diverse cities in the country. Texas’ population, in general, is made up of over 80 percent caucasians. Furthermore, Texas has historically been at the forefront of pushing for legislation and doing just about whatever it could to restrict the civil rights of African Americans and other minorities.

    Your simile comparing Los Angeles/OJ Simpson ties to Beaumont/racial-insensitivity-to Japanese-Americans is about as asinine a comparison as effectively possible using the English language.

    I will agree with you on one point. America loves to compare, on that you are absolutely correct. We see it in every aspect of our society. But does that make it right? The writer of this, again, opinion, piece, is stating that comparing JA incarceration with the Bataan death marches is belittling because it’s not just a throw-away comparison.

    The commenter obviously did some homework. He could have said the Nazi death camps or the trail of tears, or any number of other horrific atrocities. Instead, the writer chose the Bataan Death March because it was the Japanese who were the ones inflicting it on Americans…

    Basically, the gist of the comparison, “Well, the Americans might have treated the Japanese poorly, but it’s nothing compared to how the Japanese treated the Americans…”

    The huge, unmistakable fact that is being overlooked, the one this opinion piece is trying desperately to make people understand is going on, is that it wasn’t Americans treating Japanese poorly, it was Americans treating Americans poorly. And the fact that they looked Japanese is the whole reason why…

    I’m sure the Rafu appreciates your commentary Rafu Fan, but, eeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnn…try again.

  8. Response to Rafu Hater on

    Hey Rafu Hater,
    You missed Rafu fan’s point about Gwen’s smearing of the boardmember Bradley. She smeared him using guilt by association! Rafu fan wasn’t being literal about the size of LA vs Beaumont – it was just to make a point (that you did not pick up on!).

    Oh and another thing – Jap Road was not in Beaumont. It was in a amall town near Beaumont. So your point about the size of Beaumont doesn’t even make sense.

  9. Hey Response to Rafu Hater,

    I didn’t miss Rafu Fan’s point.

    What Gwen did in her “association,” is what the American government and a large portion of white America did to the Japanese Americans during World War II. Skilled writers tend to work on a variety of levels. Gwen was making a point while alluding to something else. You call it “smear,” but all she did was associate the two. She didn’t deny him his civil liberties, seize all of his property, and then lock him away without telling him what it is he did wrong.

    Texas, by and large, is made up of over 80 percent white people. Read through Texas’ history and you’ll see time and time again their overwhelming eagerness and wholehearted efforts to make it as difficult as possible for minorities to have what the constitution clearly states as inalienable—we’re talking American-born minorities, meaning citizens of this country.

    I don’t care about the size difference between the two cities. But, within the context of our conversation, size certainly matters when making broad, sweeping generalizations. To associate racist thinking with a city of 110,000, made up of 80 percent of the same race in a state that has known to hold down minorities and has taken recent action to continue this trend, is not a stretch. Is it responsible journalism? Of course not. But Gwen is writing an opinion piece. So, in that context, her assumption carries a lot more weight.

    Los Angeles is made up of nearly 10 million people of all ethnic backgrounds. OJ Simpson was an accused murderer. The disconnect between Rafu fan’s simile and Gwen’s comparison is just way off, especially when he calls Gwen’s statement, “Ridiculous, irresponsible. inexcusable.”

    Thanks for the correction about Beaumont. Technically, you are correct, Jap Road wasn’t located there, but rather in Fannett, Texas. However, Fannett is a part of the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area which was counted as one area for the 2000 Census.

  10. A response to Rafu Hater’s latest comment.

    “What Gwen did in her ‘association,’ is what the American government and a large portion of white America did to the Japanese Americans during World War II.”

    So you are saying that two wrongs make a right. OK, well at least you are acknowledging that what she did is wrong.

    “You call it ‘smear,’ but all she did was associate the two.”

    You’re being disingenuous! Of course she meant to smear him. She could just as easily have said, “I found it interesting that the board member who pushed that through, David Bradley, is from Beaumont, Texas, the seat of Jefferson County that is the site of a historical marker honoring the Mayumi brothers in appreciation for introducing new rice cultivation techniques.” The only purpose for mentioning Jap Road is to disparage Bradley. Be honest to yourself and admit it!

    “She didn’t deny him his civil liberties, seize all of his property, and then lock him away without telling him what it is he did wrong.”

    Neither did Bradley or anyone in Texas! This statement is not relevant to the reference to Jap Road.

    “Texas, by and large, is made up of over 80 percent white people.”

    What’s your source? According to this article, a majority of the population in Texas are non-whites: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8902484/. Your position is based on stereotyping whites but you are using bogus numbers to defend an indefensible position!

    “Read through Texas’ history and you’ll see time and time again their overwhelming eagerness and wholehearted efforts to make it as difficult as possible for minorities to have what the constitution clearly states as inalienable—we’re talking American-born minorities, meaning citizens of this country.”

    Congratulations. You just smeared the people of an entire state without providing a scintilla of evidence. I wonder which state led the way in violating the civil rights of Japanese Americans? Hmmmm….it wasn’t Texas.

    And here is what Sandra Tanamachi, who led the fight to change the name, had to say about OUR fellow citizens in Texas: “I know the residents of Jefferson County are good, decent, caring people. The only thing that ever caused me anguish here was the name of this road.” See here: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0729/p02s01-ussc.html.

    “But, within the context of our conversation, size certainly matters when making broad, sweeping generalizations. To associate racist thinking with a city of 110,000, made up of 80 percent of the same race in a state that has known to hold down minorities and has taken recent action to continue this trend, is not a stretch.”

    Hahaha! So you are saying it’s OK to make broad sweeping generalizations of a city of 110,000! Funny! No need to rebut your position – you are your own worst enemy!

    “Is it responsible journalism? Of course not. But Gwen is writing an opinion piece. So, in that context, her assumption carries a lot more weight.”

    Of course we are all entitled to our own opinion. But we are not entitled to our own facts. And you and I and other Rafu readers are entitled to disagree with someone else’s opinion.

    “Los Angeles is made up of nearly 10 million people of all ethnic backgrounds.”

    Ten million??? Maybe the county, but the city has fewer than 4 million. Since you’re comparing LA to Beaumont and you’re using a city population for Beaumont, you need to be consistent and compare apples to apples, even though your underlying argument doesn’t make sense.

    And I don’t think many people hold up Los Angeles as a model city when it comes to treatment of minorities. At least not Rafu write Guy Aoki as found here: http://rafu.com/news/?p=2519

    Keep in mind that LA is the largest city in the state that mistreated more Japanese Americans than any other. And I seem to recall the LA race riots where Korean and other Asian businesses were targeted for looting.

    “Thanks for the correction about Beaumont. Technically, you are correct, Jap Road wasn’t located there, but rather in Fannett, Texas. However, Fannett is a part of the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area which was counted as one area for the 2000 Census.”

    So what’s the point? The Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA is a part of Texas which was counted as one state for the 2000 Census. And Texas is a part of the United States that includes Los Angeles and the US is one country. Do you see how ridiculous my statement is (and by extension yours too)?

  11. “Of course, the latest is the move by the Texas Board of Education to teach students that the forced evacuation and incarceration of Japanese Americans was not racially motivated. I found it interesting that the board member who pushed that through, David Bradley, is from Beaumont, Texas, once the site of the notorious Jap Road.“

    Can someone provide a quote from Bradley where he says the incarceration was not racially motivated? I haven’t been able to find one. The only reference I can find is a line in a NY Times article that says Bradley, “won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.” (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html)

    But, the reporter never quotes Bradley, and without a quote, the reference to race appears to be the reporter’s interpretation of what Bradley must have meant. But I can’t find any damning quotes. If you’re the NY Times reporter, wouldn’t you want to include a quote? That would be proof positive.

    I did find a press release from the venerable JACL that criticizes the curriculum change, but does not address the claim about racial motivation. (See here: http://jacl.org/documents/3-19-10%20Texas%20Curriculum%20Response.pdf). If Bradley was claiming the internment was not racially motivated, then I have to believe the JACL would be all over it. But the purpose of the press release is to clarify the the JA experience during WWII differed significantly from the German and Italian experience. Since the JACL is silent about the reason for the change, I have to believe they were no more successful finding evidence than I have been.

    And I can’t help but notice that the point of the JACL press release is to compare the treatment of JAs with that of Germans and Italians. Hey! I just realized the JACL is doing what Gwen calls “belittling and pointless” – comparing historical atrocities! Shame on the JACL! No…the JACL is right on target. It’s Gwen’s point that is off-target.

  12. To Rafu Fan,

    You are a very sneaky person Rafu Fan. You like to cherry pick quotes and flip them to prove your point.

    “Ten million??? Maybe the county, but the city has fewer than 4 million. Since you’re comparing LA to Beaumont and you’re using a city population for Beaumont, you need to be consistent and compare apples to apples, even though your underlying argument doesn’t make sense.”

    The whole point of bringing Los Angeles into this is because of your simile: “Imagine if someone wrote, ‘I find it interesting that Gwen Muranaka is from Los Angeles, once the home of the notorious O.J. Simpson.’ Ridiculous, irresponsible. inexcusable.”

    I’m not arguing for Los Angeles’ record as a safe haven for minorities. I thought it ridiculous, irresponsible and inexcusable to use a metaphor that off-base to try and prove that someone else’s allusion is “ridiculous…”

    But let’s not get that far off on a metaphorical tangent…

    “You’re being disingenuous! Of course she meant to smear him.”

    You say I am being disingenuous, and then state your own opinion as if it was fact. How can you be so certain that is what she meant? All we can do is read what she has written.

    “I found it interesting that the board member who pushed that through, David Bradley, is from Beaumont, Texas, once the site of the notorious Jap Road.”

    That’s all she wrote. That’s all we can go on. To insist that she meant to “smear” him is revealing your own personal motives and feelings.

    Look, I will admit that I got caught up in my own emotions…never a good thing when you are trying to make a salient and airtight point. To lump all of Texas into Beaumont, a city that is actually quite racially diverse (though, still no Asians) is unwise and counterproductive.

    But, anger and emotion can be used to make a point. Change doesn’t happen without emotion fueling it.

    You have spent several paragraphs dismantling Gwen’s opinion piece, finding holes in her argument, finding where she could have stated her point in a better way. You seemingly do not empathize with what she is talking about. Fine. Perhaps if she would have written it in a different way, you might be like, “Oh yeah, I see your point.”

    But look what the Texas State Board of Education tried to do and some of what it just did.

    http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2010/jan/15/history-lessened/
    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/Dems_protest_proposed_school_standards.html?c=y&page=2#storytop

    And this is with over a 100 years of working to push past race boundaries, countless people giving up their lives, spending entire lifetimes working to reverse the evils of slavery.

    “‘She didn’t deny him his civil liberties, seize all of his property, and then lock him away without telling him what it is he did wrong.’ Neither did Bradley or anyone in Texas! This statement is not relevant to the reference to Jap Road…Congratulations. You just smeared the people of an entire state without providing a scintilla of evidence. I wonder which state led the way in violating the civil rights of Japanese Americans? Hmmmm….it wasn’t Texas.”

    Really? I smeared the people or the state? I can’t change history the way the Texas State Board of Education apparently can or thinks they can—which, IS denying the efforts made in the civil liberties movement, IS seizing historical property without justifiable reasoning and IS locking people away from the truth of all the wrong that has happened in this country.

    As for me, I can only state what has happened. From slavery to Jim Crow Laws to burning down Black Wall Street to the Chinese Exclusion act to the incarceration of Japanese Americans to what Muslim Americans experience today, this country has made racism a long and ugly trend.

    And, while Texas might not have led the way, they sure as hell dragged their feet and kicked and screamed at the very end of the line when efforts were made to reverse the wrongdoing. Not only is Texas now trying to change that history by striking things from the history books, it has been one of the slowest countries in adopting laws and regulations that allow minorities to enjoy their civil liberties.

    The state fought against equal rights for blacks. The state fought against equal rights for latinos. The state continues to fight against equal rights for gays. I mean, this is the same state that recently rejoined Virginia, Florida, and Georgia as the only states in the nation that celebrate Confederate History Month.

    So, I wholeheartedly agree with Gwen’s assessment

    “This is why we still talk about the camps. The nuances of language, the power of words to shape how we perceive events, is a power which should not be conceded to those whose agenda is to obfuscate or twist the truth.”

    I admittedly got off focus in this discussion. Are there hundreds of thousands of people in Texas that are progressive thinking, non-racists? Of course there are. Are there hundreds of thousands of racist assholes running amok in California? Without a doubt. Hell, California passed Prop 8! However, it must be pointed out that one state continues a trend of inclusion, while the other continues a practice of exclusion.

    But, you’re right, damning Beaumont for being a city in Texas with a road name that came to be racist is wrong. I’ll admit that.

    However, I stand by my damning of the ultra conservatives on the Texas Board of Education, including Bradley. If you think what they did back in January, with their amendments to history (some of which were rejected), is justifiable, then you are exactly the person for whom Gwen wrote this opinion piece.

    Opinion is opinion, and perhaps Gwen could have stated hers a bit better, but the underlying point should not be lost in what you think is a misconstrued spot of writing. I urge you to stop looking for holes, and focus on the whole.

    FYI, sources for Texas ethnic population

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108277.html

    http://txsdc.utsa.edu/tpepp/txpopest.php

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas#Racial_group_and_ethnic_origins

  13. Hey Rafu Hater,

    You are a funny guy. I think we could enjoy drinking a beer together someday.

    “You are a very sneaky person Rafu Fan. You like to cherry pick quotes and flip them to prove your point.”

    Sneaky? Ouch! I take this as a compliment. If you are going to call me sneaky, you really should explain why. There is nothing sneaky about what I am doing – I just try to lay out my reasoning and provide data and references to support my position. Pointing out the weakness or inconsistency of your statements does not make me sneaky.

    “The whole point of bringing Los Angeles into this is because of your simile:”

    The whole point of bringing up LA was to provide an example to show the absurdity of what Gwen did with her reference to Beaumont. I could have used any city to make the point; somehow you thought the size of LA matters but how many people live in Beaumont or LA is irrelevant.

    “You say I am being disingenuous, and then state your own opinion as if it was fact. How can you be so certain that is what she meant? All we can do is read what she has written.”

    I was trying to give you credit for understanding Gwen’s obvious attempt to malign Bradley, but if you can’t see her point, then “disingenuous” is the wrong adjective to describe your motive. I should have used another adjective…

    “That’s all she wrote. That’s all we can go on. To insist that she meant to ‘smear’ him is revealing your own personal motives and feelings. Look, I will admit that I got caught up in my own emotions…”

    And that’s the difference between us. You feel passionately about this, but passion cannot substitute for a logical, objective position. Just because you feel very strongly that 2+2=5, well…2+2 still = 4.

    “To lump all of Texas into Beaumont, a city that is actually quite racially diverse (though, still no Asians) is unwise and counterproductive.”

    Thanks for acknowledging you were unwise and counterproductive! But this statement raises more questions. First, Texas itself is racially diverse. But let’s say that it wasn’t. Would that make Texas more or less desirable than a state that is racially diverse? Your use of words like “actually” and “though” suggests you think so. Maybe. But it is not at all clear to me that states like Texas and California are somehow better than states with less racial diversity.

    “You have spent several paragraphs dismantling Gwen’s opinion piece, finding holes in her argument, finding where she could have stated her point in a better way. You seemingly do
    not empathize with what she is talking about. Fine.”

    The purpose for her article was to respond to questions why the Rafu still talks about the camps, and to explain why words matter. If you want to persuade readers about a particular course of action, you need to have a sound, coherent argument, supported wherever possible by objective, verifiable data. For example, if she was going to mention Michelle Malkin, she needed to rebut Malkin’s position, not just dismiss Malkin as an extremist. Otherwise, someone who doesn’t share her passion about the camps is not going to be convinced. She comes off looking like a name-caller. That’s not good for Gwen or her position.

    “But look what the Texas State Board of Education tried to do and some of what it just did.
    http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2010/jan/15/history-lessened/
    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/Dems_protest_proposed_school_standards.html?c=y&page=2#storytop”

    I ask again if anyone has been able to find a quote from Bradley that the reason for adding the German and Italian camp experiences to the curriculum is to show that the Japanese American experience was not racially motivated. I looked at both of these links and could not find a mention of the Japanese American experience.

    “And this is with over a 100 years of working to push past race boundaries, countless people giving up their lives, spending entire lifetimes working to reverse the evils of slavery.”

    What are you talking about? I am not aware of any Japanese Americans who were slaves.

    “I can’t change history the way the Texas State Board of Education apparently can or thinks they can—which, IS denying the efforts made in the civil liberties movement, IS seizing historical property without justifiable reasoning and IS locking people away from the truth of all the wrong that has happened in this country.”

    You have yet to show how the Board of Education denied efforts made in the civil liberties movement. And how did the Board of Education seize historical property – what historical property? And you have yet to show how the Board of Education is locking people away from the truth – what truth are you talking about?

    “From slavery to Jim Crow Laws to burning down Black Wall Street to the Chinese Exclusion act to the incarceration of Japanese Americans to what Muslim Americans experience today, this country has made racism a long and ugly trend.”

    I guess this is the part where you’re letting emotion take control again. Let’s keep it to the camp experience.

    “And, while Texas might not have led the way, they sure as hell dragged their feet and kicked and screamed at the very end of the line when efforts were made to reverse the wrongdoing.”

    What are you talking about? Give me some facts here.

    “Not only is Texas now trying to change that history by striking things from the history books, it has been one of the slowest countries in adopting laws and regulations that allow minorities to enjoy their civil liberties.”

    I have yet to see where Texas has struck the JA camp experience from the history books, only that Texas has ADDED the German and Italian experience.

    “The state fought against equal rights for blacks. The state fought against equal rights for latinos. The state continues to fight against equal rights for gays. I mean, this is the same state that recently rejoined Virginia, Florida, and Georgia as the only states in the nation that celebrate Confederate History Month.”

    You’re getting off focus again!

    “I admittedly got off focus in this discussion.”

    Yes!

    “However, it must be pointed out that one state continues a trend of inclusion, while the other continues a practice of exclusion.”

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    “But, you’re right, damning Beaumont for being a city in Texas with a road name that came to be racist is wrong. I’ll admit that.”

    Thanks. But you still manage to condemn an entire state for actions that took place decades ago!

    “However, I stand by my damning of the ultra conservatives on the Texas Board of Education, including Bradley. If you think what they did back in January, with their amendments to history (some of which were rejected), is justifiable, then you are exactly the person for whom Gwen wrote this opinion piece.”

    From what I can tell, neither you nor Gwen has actually looked into the specific changes pertaining to the JA camp experience in the Texas curriculum. If you had, and had found anything to support your position, you would have shared it by now. So unless you can share the actual changes, then I have to conclude your statement is based on laziness or ignorance.

    “Opinion is opinion, and perhaps Gwen could have stated hers a bit better, but the underlying point should not be lost in what you think is a misconstrued spot of writing. I urge you to stop looking for holes, and focus on the whole.”

    I enjoy reading opinions, even if I do not happen to agree with the writer. But when the writer makes a weak argument and writes an opinion that turns readers away from her viewpoint, then I would say I am focusing on the whole.

  14. I just came across this older article. Thank you, Gwen, for your perceptive observations and appropriate commentary on the troubling “revisionist creep in interpretations of the camp experience.” During the coming months, I will share with you news of a project whose aim is to help assure that the injustices visited upon the almost 120,000 American citizens by their own government will never recur. Wth much gratitude and best regards to you, An Appreciative Reader.

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