HORSE’S MOUTH: Racism in Campaigns

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Whenever I express my opinion on an issue, I expect someone to present an opposing view. So, when I made a comment on the “no-no boys” forum held last week in Torrance, I geared myself up to get a few responses.

I will print one, although it is rather lengthy. This one is from Iku Kiriyama, who wrote:

“Dear George, I was disappointed with your ‘no-no’ comments regarding the ‘No-No Boys and Renunciants’ forum sponsored by the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California last Saturday at the Torrance Main Library.

“I got the impression you attended with a closed mind, determined to not admit you may have learned even a little. In particular, I’m referencing a previous comment made in your column that no-nos from Heart Mountain were sent to prison. No-nos and resisters were different in their response. No-nos were sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center. The vast majority of resisters were ‘yes-yes.’ They resisted the draft based on constitutional principles and were imprisoned.

“You’ve told me many times when we’ve met for breakfast that you will never change your mind on a lot of WWII-related issues. I know that and I respect your right to believe what you will as you respect mine.

“As far as no-nos and renunciants, there were many personal reasons for their decisions, largely based on family concerns as well as anger with the treatment received, in the case of Nisei, as American citizens. And also including fear and confusion.

“My mother answered ‘yes-no’ because she was afraid we would be separated from my Issei father. I have the transcript from the National Archives of her interview at Manzanar when she was questioned about her answers.

“The resisters were of like mind. Let me ask you a question, George. Do you or do you not believe that a person should not be imprisoned without cause? I will assume that you believe there should be cause if you were in prison. Then, do you believe WE were imprisoned with cause? That cause being we not only ‘looked’ like the enemy but we were the enemy in the eyes of America. Is it CAUSE to be stopped by the police because they think you LOOK like you might do something wrong?

“And, don’t you agree that we were indeed imprisoned? Otherwise, what do you call being made to leave your home and being made to enter a compound to stay for who knows how long a ‘prison term’? Even though you say many times that you were able to leave camp and go into town, did that make you less a prisoner? Could you have gone back home to Los Angeles? No, right? Then, you did not have the freedom to go wherever you wanted. There would not have been restricted zones.

“The resisters told the government ‘yes’ they would fight for America if their families and everyone else were to be released and allowed to go home freely. That if they and their families were to be imprisoned without due process, without just cause, they would continue to protest the unjust imprisonment of a whole ethnic community.

“I think it took a lot of guts to take this stand. It takes a lot of guts to stand with a minority for a principle. They were not cowards.

“And, PLEASE DO NOT turn this around and say I’m ignoring the sacrifices of the veterans. I would never do such a thing. I am speaking to the issues you raised about the no-nos and resisters in past columns.

“George, I hope you saw the article on the front page of Tuesday, Oct. 30’s (Rafu Shimpo) issue about the racist calls Al Muratsuchi’s campaign has been getting. Racism is still alive and well in 2012 (unbelievably, there were some JA ladies in Torrance who said there was NO racism back during the Japan-bashing and thought I was negative to talk about it).

“We need to be vigilant, as many segments of our community are (e.g. NCRR), and give strong support to those who risk their reputations and lives to support the constitutional principles on which our freedoms are based.”

Thanks, Iku, for your lengthy letter.

The only comment I want to make is “Monday morning quarterbacking” is one of the easiest roads to take after the facts are presented.

Why is it that those of us who responded “yes-yes” and joined Uncle Sam’s Army are never interviewed about our thoughts during that era?

Remember, the atmosphere in the U.S. after Dec. 7, 1941 was completely different than it is today. It’s easy to look back now and make the kind of statements so many do in this day and age.

Enuff said.

When most of you read today’s column, you will know who won the presidential election.

Is it “Well, another four years of Obama” or “Hooray for Romney”?

In the other race of interest is in the 66th Assembly District between Al Muratsuchi and Craig Huey, especially since racism has entered the campaign.

I stopped working at the polling site two elections back, but I’m going to stand around outside of the voting site to see how many “Nihonjin” turn out to cast their ballots.

It’s been a conclusion that if every JA casts their ballot for Muratsuchi, he will win hands down. That’s because the 66th District has a heavy JA and Asian American population.

I’m heading for Vegas next week.

Sin City’s election result is said to be in the hands of Asian Americans due to the great increase in this racial group.

So, I’ll try to get information on whether this is a fact or fiction.

That is, if I can get away from the slot machines.

My column after my usual Saturday edition will have my usual Vegas dateline.

Unless the weather changes drastically, I should have no problems.

At this time of year I don’t think snow or any other type of weather should bother me.

As I frequently mention on my Vegas trips, one of the activities I look forward to is having breakfast with Vegas resident Rosie Kakuuchi and her sister, Grace.

However, on this coming trip, Rosie said she wants to change our get-together from breakfast to lunch.

I guess, like me, she’s getting on years (we’re both the same age), so she probably doesn’t want to get up early anymore.

So, we’ll have to order off the menu. For breakfast, we go to the buffet counter. Well, for lunch we can order miso soup.

Miso soup is kind of special for me because way back when I wrote a negative column on the item at The Cal, someone gave that column to the management, and that’s how I got to know the “wheels” at The Cal.

What did I write?

I said their miso soup wasn’t hot enough. In fact, worse than lukewarm.

They corrected it and they thanked me for my criticism because more people started ordering the Japanese soup. That’s how I became a “regular” at the Cal.

Maybe I should suggest that the Cal add natto to their menu.

I’m sure, since so many of the patrons at the Cal are Japanese Americans, natto could become a popular item.

Of course, if the Cal decides to add natto, I might suggest they don’t smell it before putting it on the menu. You know what I mean.

In a recent column, a reader asked me about yomogi.

I don’t know what yomogi is, but another reader sent me the following email. It comes from Martha Nakagawa, who wrote:

“I just read your Oct. 30 column where your reader is looking for a live yomogi plant. If no one else is offering them, we still have some growing wild in our backyard. Your reader is welcome to them, but I’m going out of town next week so I won’t be able to follow up on it until the week of Nov. 12. Can you kindly forward this message to your reader. She can contact me.” Martha’s email is [email protected]

Thanks, Martha. I will run your letter and she will probably contact you.

In the meantime, maybe you can tell me what yomogi is.

(Maggie’s comment: You can get that info by “googling” on your computer, Mr. Y. It is amazing what information you can acquire from Google).

Well, baseball season is gone and the Tokyo Giants won the Japanese version of the World Series.

As I suggested, maybe the Japanese Giants can set up a challenge for a “true” World Series with the San Francisco Giants, the champions of the U.S. series.

They could play such a series on neutral ground, maybe in Honolulu. I’m sure it would be a boon for tourism in the Islands.

If such a series is held, I’m sure at least a thousand fans from Japan would fly to Honolulu to watch the games and twice that number would attend from the U.S. mainland.

Of course, Major League big wheels might not like such a series.

I don’t think the Tokyo Giants can beat the San Francisco Giants but if they do, the Major Leagues won’t be able to call their championship series the “World Series” in the future.

You can never tell. Baseball has a way of taking funny bounces. Of course, anything can happen.

Just look at the number of Japanese players who are on Major League team rosters, so they can’t be that bad.

Maybe it’s a bit of irony.

I went to my primary physician the other day for my annual checkup and he said, “You’d better get your flu shot.”

I told him, “Maybe later. I think I’ll skip it now.”

Then I read two stories in Tuesday’s Rafu about getting the shots.

So, I called my physician back and said, “I’ll come in tomorrow if you have an opening on your schedule.”

“How come you changed your mind?” he asked me.

“Well, I said, “I read in The Rafu that everyone should get their flu shot at this time of the year.”

Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised by his response.

“What’s The Rafu?” he asked.

So, I explained to him about the newspaper.

Then he made me chuckle when he said, “What do they call the flu in Japanese?”

I didn’t want to seem too stupid, so I used the only word that came close to the flu, “It’s called ‘kaze.’”

And that was that.

I hope if he has another Japanese patient he won’t tell him/her, “You need a kaze shot.”

Heh, heh.

Well, it’s time for another heh, heh.

During a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney asked a grandmother, an elderly woman, to the stand. He asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”

She responded, “Why, yes, Mr. Williams, I’ve known you since you were a little boy and I am disappointed in you. You lie, you cheat on your wife and manipulate people and talk behind their back. You’re a big shot when you don’t have the brains to realize you’re nothing more than a two-bit paper-pusher. Yes, I know you.”

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he turned and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense counsel?”

She replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known him when he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy and bigoted, his law practice is one of the worst, and he had an affair with three different women. One of them was your wife.”

The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench.

He told them, “If either of you ask her if she knows me, I’ll sentence you to death.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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