HORSE’S MOUTH: Now About Willy Hidaka and George Yoshinaga

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on January 29, 2011.)

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That was a nice story on the front page of Tuesday’s Rafu about Medal of Honor recipient Barney Hajiro, who passed away at the age of 94.

I heard a lot about Hajiro over the years because he was born in the tiny village of Puunene on the island of Maui.

In fact, he was born and raised in a plantation labor camp called McGerrow Camp, where my wife’s family also lived.

And each year, former McGerrow Camp residents who moved to California hold a reunion, and since my wife is a member of the group, I have attended the gathering over the years.

One of the topics that usually come up at the gathering is the story of Hajiro. The group was so proud of him and the recognition he received for his bravery with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during battle in Europe during World War II.

I’m sure with his passing, his friends’ stories from McGerrow Camp will be the main topic.

The reunion will be held on the Memorial Day weekend at a home in Torrance.

There was a time that there were so many attendees, the event was held at a park. However, with the passing of time, most of the attendees are now in their mid-80s to 90s, so I guess it’s expected that the numbers keep shrinking.

At any rate, my personal salute to Barney Hajiro.

Apologies.

In a recent column I wrote about a club we organized during our stay at Heart Mountain and how only seven of the members of the “Jackrabbits” are left from the original 21 in the club.

Well, I was informed by reader Paul Sugihara, who sent me an e-mail informing me that Warren Isa, one of the remaining “Rabbits,” has passed away. That means there are now only six remaining.

Seems like every year presents interesting numbers. So how do you like this one about 2011? This year we will experience four unusual dates.

They are:  1-1-11, 1-11-11, 11-1-11 and 11-11-11.

Isn’t it amazing how people can come up with things like this? How many more years must pass to come up with numbers like these?

The Japanese American community of San Jose is holding its 31st annual “Day of Remembrance” on Sunday, Feb. 20 at the Buddhist Church in San Jose’s Japantown.

The event is to recognize the anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which led to the evacuation of 120,000 people of Japanese descent.

They gather to remember that civil liberties tragedy of over 68 years ago and reflect on what the event means today.

The one thing I gathered from the news release on the event is that one of the issues to be discussed is the comparison between what happened to the Japanese Americans and what is happening to the Muslim community in the present era.

I might be alone in my feelings that the issues between JAs and the Muslims can’t be compared.

At the start of World War II against Japan, many felt that JAs were a threat to the U.S., but this was completely fabricated by those racists who really didn’t understand the Issei and Nisei generations.

This was eventually brought to light with not a single incident of sabotage or anti-American sentiments being displayed by Japanese Americans.

On the other hand, we’ve already had 9/11, which launched a terrorist threat in the U.S.

I rest my case.

Since this is still January of the new year, I thought I would print a news release headed, “Goodbye 2010/Hello 2011.”

It was sent to me by Don Nose, president of the Go For Broke National Educational Center. Hopefully, the Rafu editorial section doesn’t also print the article, but what the heck, we’ve doubled up a few times over the years. Here is Nose’s letter:

”2010 was a year of challenge and transition at the Go For Broke National Education Center.

“Our organization kept on its mission throughout the year, thanks to the leadership of Michael Ozawa, chairman of the board; Stephanie Uchida-Lee, chief operating officer; as well as the dedication and hard work of our board of directors, staff, veterans and volunteers.

“We begin 2011 in a much better place. The economic downturn appears to have bottomed out and our organization is poised to expand its education and outreach programs.

“Now in my fifth week at GFBNEC, I am even more excited about the programs and events that we will be working on in the months ahead. Many of our initiatives are already under way, such as our research with the Center for Military History to collect the oral stories of MIS Nisei linguists who served during the occupation of Japan. Other educational initiatives, including our new classroom videos and web-based projects, will be unveiled this spring.

“So, as we say goodbye to 2010, I give you my pledge of open-door transparency and timely communication. We are restarting our monthly e-Torch online newsletter and efforts are already under way on the next Torch print newsletter with a goal of bringing you timely photos and insights (and sometimes just a good laugh) about our education and oral history programs, events, building plans and other issues of interest to our supporter community.

“Thank you for  believing in the mission of the Go For Broke National Education Center. Working together, we will continue to spread the story of the unstoppable spirit of Go For Broke.”

Thanks, Don. Hopefully I can contribute to the story about the Nisei who served with the occupation of Japan, as I was in the ranks of those who participated in the occupation.

Before-and-after photos of Tatsuya Ichihashi

Crime seems to be occupying most of the TV news broadcasts in the L.A. area.

With the committing of the criminal acts, the TV station often runs photos of the suspects or an artist’s portrait of the suspect based on descriptions provided by the victims.

I’m not sure how effective these photos and portraits are in eventually capturing the suspects.

I mean, how easy is it for a suspect to have plastic surgery done to escape capture?

Well, there was a story out of Japan in which a murder suspect avoided capture for two years by performing plastic surgery on himself.

You read that right. He performed his own plastic surgery on his face.

It made it possible to avoid arrest for two years, as he moved from city to city in Japan.

The suspect, Tatsuya Ichihashi, was accused of murdering a teacher, Lindsay Ann Hawker, from England.

How did he perform the surgery?

Well, he cut off his lower lip with scissors and dug two moles out of his cheek with a box cutter.

Would you believe that he wrote a book while on the run, detailing how he changed his appearance?

A Tokyo newspaper printed before-and-after photos of Ichihashi, which really showed the difference in appearance.

He admitted that he had to quit cutting himself up because of the excruciating pain. He began wearing a surgical mask, which many Japanese do to escape pollution.

He was eventually captured and now may face the death penalty.

I wonder how many criminal suspects in the U.S. ever thought about performing surgery on themselves, especially with scissors and box cutters?

While we are cruising around Japan, those of you who visit the country know that there are more smokers there than in the U.S.

This may be changing, however, slowly.

The Japanese government has raised taxes on cigarettes to a level that is making a lot of smokers try to quit. Many smokers can’t afford the cost of the cigarettes and the new higher taxes.

Of course, this is helping Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, which makes the leading drug to help smokers break the habit.

Unfortunately, however, Pfizer is running out of the anti-smoking drug in Japan.

At any rate, 14 percent of smokers in Japan have quit smoking, with or without Pfizer’s drug.

Pfizer was selling its drug to 70,000 Japanese per month.

What has upset Japanese smokers is that Pfizer had a year to prepare for the surge in demand following the rise in the cost of smoking in their country.

Strange, I never heard about Pfizer’s drug in the U.S., where smoking bans are growing in most cities.

Oh well, I guess if all I do is chew on cigars, I won’t have to worry about the non-smoking movement.

By the way, the rise in cigarette taxes in Japan is 1,000 yen. In U.S. money, that’s more than 10 bucks. That’s just the tax. I don’t know how much the cigarettes cost, but I would guess it’s about 1,500 yen. That would bring a pack of cigarettes to about 25 bucks.

No wonder a lot of Japanese are quitting. Most of them smoke a little more than a pack a day, from what I observed when I lived in Japan.

Since fellow Rafu columnist J.K. Yamamoto asked a question about me in his writing in the Wednesday edition, I thought I would respond today.

J.K. was writing about movies filmed in the late ’50s and early ’60s. He wrote that one that comes to mind was “The Crimson Kimono” (1959).

He wrote in one part of his column, “One interesting footnote is that Internet Movie Database lists George Yoshinaga as an actor playing Willy Hidaka. It also says an actor named Bob Okazaki played a character named George Yoshinaga. Assuming that George Yoshinaga the actor is the same guy who writes for the Rafu, perhaps he could clear this up.”

Well, I’ll make a short story long so I can fill this column. It goes like this, J.K.

When Sam Fuller decided to make the film, he knew a lot of the scenes would be filmed in Little Tokyo.

So he came to the Kashu Mainichi, where I was working, to ask if I knew anyone he could hire to help set up the filming in J-Town.

Naturally I said, “I’m familiar with Little Tokyo, can I volunteer?”

I was hired with the title “technical adviser.”

So I took leave from Kashu and began working at 20th Century Fox studio, the home base of Fuller’s operation.

One of the first jobs I had was looking for Japanese American “bit players” for minor roles in the film.

Fuller said, “Well, George, as long as you’re going to be on the set, I have a role for you to play.”

Thus, George Yoshinaga became Willy Hidaka.

And when another Japanese American character was needed, Fuller asked me if he could use my name for the role.

Thus, Bob Okazaki became George Yoshinaga.

One of the toughest jobs I had as a “technical adviser” was lining up about 100 JAs to perform as ondo dancers for the Nisei Week Parade, which was one of the major scenes in “Crimson Kimono.”

Needless to say, I got a lot of my friends to be “bit players” in the film.

The Nisei Week Parade was filmed on what was then known as Weller Street.

Another difficult part of my position in the film was getting business and shop owners in Little Tokyo to approve filming in front of their place of business.

Many said that their business would be hurt by the camera crews and others connected with the filming, crowding the sidewalks.

When the filming ended, Fuller said he might hire me for other films he was considering, but I rejected his offer.

I went back to the old newspapering grind.

By the way, “Crimson Kimono” had its world premiere at a theater in San Francisco. I’m not sure why Fuller decided on the Bay Area city, but it did draw a lot of attention up there.

Yeah, I got a free trip to participate in the premiere.

So that’s the story of Willie Hidaka (George Yoshinaga), J.K.

Needless to say, my performance as an actor was never an Oscar threat.

One good thing about my participation was that I became good friends with James Shigeta, the lead actor in the film.

Enuff said.

Since I had surgery on my shoulder, I can’t wear a seatbelt when I’m either driving or sitting in a car as a passenger. However, since I don’t want a traffic cop to stop me for violating the seatbelt law, I just throw it over my arms and it looks like I am wearing a seatbelt. So far, I’ve escaped without being pulled over.

I did get a letter from my physician explaining my situation in case I do get stopped, anyway.

I don’t know how effective the letter will be or if the traffic cop will understand my situation.

This kind of reminds me of a little piece I read in one of the papers the other day.

It went like this: “I was driving my car with three young children on a warm summer evening when a women in a convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked. As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, ‘Look, Mom, that lady isn’t wearing a seatbelt.’ ”

Heh, heh. Maybe she had shoulder surgery.

I’m not sure why, but I noticed the other day that mushrooms were sprouting up on our front lawn.

One of my sons asked me if it might be okay to pick them and have them for dinner. They sure look edible.

How do I know a good mushroom from one that might be poison?

Well, when I was growing up on a farm, we used to have mushrooms popping up all over the place. So we would pick them and bring them back to the house.

My mother would look them over, and one by one she picked a few and tossed out a few. She said the ones she threw away were dangerous to eat.

I don’t know to this day how she knew the good ones from the bad ones because they all looked alike to me, just like the ones now growing on our front lawn.

I told my son we’d better stick to McDonald’s.

Well, you can title today’s laugher “Yonsei Giggles.”

Two Yonsei businessmen in Little Tokyo were sitting down for a break in their soon-to-be-new store on East First Street and San Pedro.

As of yet, the store wasn’t ready, with only a few shelves set up.

One said to the other, “I bet any minute now some old Nisei is going to walk by, put his face in the window and ask what we’re selling.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth when, sure enough, a curious senior Nisei walked to the window, had a peek and in a soft voice asked, “What are you selling here?”

One of the Yonsei replied sarcastically, “We’re selling assholes.”

Without skipping a beat, the old Nisei said, “And a fine job you’re doing. Only two left.”

Don’t mess with old Nisei men.

Well that one was kind of short, so to eat up more space, try this one:

This little girl gets a new puppy and wants to take her for a walk really bad, so she goes into the kitchen and asks her mother, “Mommy, can I take the puppy for a walk, please?”

“Honey, it’s not a good idea. She’s in heat.”

When the girl looks confused, Mom says quickly, “Go ask your father. He’s in the garage.”

So the little girl finds her dad. “Daddy, Mommy says the puppy is in heat and to ask you if I can take for her a walk.”

The dad looks around, grabs a rag and a gas can to put a little gas on the rag, then pats it on the puppy.

“Okay, now you can take her for walk.”

When the girl comes home with no puppy, the dad asks, “Where’s the puppy?”

She answers, “She ran out of gas and the other dogs are pushing her home.” Heh, heh.

Another one:

A guy has just fallen from the roof. His blonde wife comes after hearing the big thump and asks if he’s okay.

The guy tells her to call 911. So she starts screaming, “Does anyone know the number for 911?”

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

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20 Comments

  1. The 9/11 plotters were NOT AMERICANS. They were mostly Saudis.

    Likewise, the Pearl Harbor attack was by Japanese from Japan, not Japanese Americans.

    That is why the comparison between Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans is valid.

  2. Another great column George. Keep it up!

    By the way, the previous comment does not make sense. Most Issei were not US citizens and in fact were considered enemy aliens during the war, but as you point out none engaged in sabotage or terrorism as the Muslims who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks did. And comparing the 9/11 terrorists to the Japanese Navy is ridiculous. The terrorists were operating on their own, not as part of a Saudi Arabian military plot. Good grief.

  3. Not all Muslims are Arabic. Not all Muslims are terrorists.

    The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 were mostly from Saudi Arabia. They were neither Arab Americans, Muslim Americans nor immimgrants to America.

    And most Issei were not American citizens, but the Nisei were citizens. I shouldn’t have to tell you that both Issei and Nisei were sent to camps.

    Treating Muslim Americans and Arab American citizens like terrorists is no different than treating Japanese American citizens like enemy aliens.

  4. Mickey Okamoto on

    “Not all Muslims are Arabic. Not all Muslims are terrorists.” True but ALL the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim.

  5. The question is, should people be treated differently because of their race, ethnicity, heritage or religion? Should people be discriminated against because of they are of Japanese descent, of Arabic descent or of any other descent?

    Or, should people be treated equally and fairly under the law?

    Individual American citizens should be judged based on each person’s individual actions, not collectively discriminated against based on the perceived and ill-conceived “guilt by association” of an entire ethnic or religious community. That was the mistake made during World War II, and similar mistakes are being made in the “War On Terror”

    That legacy of discrimination is what Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans share; the comparison between the two is perfectly valid.

  6. Let’s say you’re getting on a plane.

    As you sit down, you notice in the row in front of you are three men who appear to be Arabs and are speaking Arabic in a low, hushed manner. Across the aisle are three men who appear to be Japanese and are speaking Japanese, also in a low, hushed manner.

    Now, be honest with yourself. No one but you can know what you are really thinking or feeling as you assess the risk of a terrorist attack on the plane in which you sit and which will be airborne in a few minutes.

    Do you feel ANY threat or risk from flying with the Japanese men?

    Do you feel ANY risk from flying with the Arab men?

    Do you feel exactly the same risk of terrorism from the Japanese and the Arabs?

    Whether you admit it or not, you know that when it comes to your own safety, you will make a distinction based on the best available information. It is a normal survival technique.

    Yes, George and Mickey are right.

  7. I don’t have enough information about three hypothetical Arab INDIVIDUALS or the three Japanese INDIVIDUALS on a hypothetical airline flight to be able to determine if there is any risk from any of them. Anyone on that hypothetical plane could be a terrorist. More likely, they are innocent civilians.

    I emphasize the word INDIVIDUALS because that is what all six of these gentlemen are. Individuals with individual civil rights and liberties guaranteed to them.

    In the 1940s, Americans thought they knew enough about the Japanese and Japanese Americans based on “the best available information” to warrant locking up all Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Obviously they were wrong. The Japanese Americans did not deserve to be treated like criminals because they were members of a specific ethnic group.

    It was war hysteria.

    We were wrong to treat INDIVIDUALS like they were all the same. It was discrimination then and it is discrimination now.

    Prejudices and the public’s perception of “threat” changes over time. Some people treat all African Americans as hoodlums. Some people consider all gays to be threats to our morals. During the 40s, and again during the “Japan, Inc.” years of the 80s, some people considered all Japanese to be threats as well. During the Cold War, it was the Russians.

    So today, a commonly feared group are Arabs and Muslims, frequently confused for each other. SO WHAT. It’s still war hysteria.

  8. Hahaha! James, you failed to answer the question. You tried to respond intellectually but the question was asking for the reader’s emotional response.

    Is Jesse Jackson someone who treats all African Americans as hoodlums? Remember his quote: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.”

    Is Jesse Jackson prejudiced against blacks? Of course not. But he realizes the risk of robbery is higher by blacks than by whites.

    So then, is the risk of terrorism higher for Arabs or Japanese? Come on – be honest. George knows. Mickey knows. I know. We all know the answer.

  9. Your question is not relevant.

    For all I know, the three Japanese could be members of Aum Shinrikyo. The Arabs could be innocent businessmen. They could be bilingual American citizens. All six of them could be innocent. All six of them could be terrorists.

    You are presuming that Arabs are inherently more dangerous than Japanese. They are not.

    You are presuming to judge an entire ethnic group (an estimated 3.5 MILLION Americans of Arabic descent) based on the actions of a few (19 hijackers, none of whom were American citizens).

    You are basing these presumptions on your own emotions (mistrust and fear of others).

    If fear mattered, then the U.S. government would have been correct to lock up the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. Emotions ran very high against Japanese at the time, and people did not distinguish between Japanese and Japanese Americans.

    In the United States of America, we are not ruled by mistrust, anger, prejudice or fear. We have laws precisely to defend against the mob mentality of fear and anger.

    Neither the mistreatment of the Japanese Americans then, nor the mistreatment of Arab Americans now makes sense.

  10. >Your question is not relevant.

    Saying the question is not relevant doesn’t make it irrelevant. But it’s what you would say if you can’t respond to the question. If you could rebut the point, you would. If you can’t rebut the point, you change the subject.

    >For all I know, the three Japanese could be members of Aum Shinrikyo. The Arabs could be innocent businessmen. They could be bilingual American citizens. All six of them could be innocent. All six of them could be terrorists.

    Exactly! But often (most of the time actually), we do not have the luxury of complete information on which to base a decision or judgment call to protect our safety. Therefore we have to make a decision based on interpretation of the limited information available, using for example our observations and personal experience. So the preceding statement makes my point, AND shows how the question IS relevant. Thank you!!

    >You are presuming that Arabs are inherently more dangerous than Japanese. They are not.

    Huh? I don’t presume any group of people is inherently more dangerous than any other group. To the extent there are differences (and there are), the differences are acquired and cultural, NOT inherent.

    >You are presuming to judge an entire ethnic group (an estimated 3.5 MILLION Americans of Arabic descent) based on the actions of a few (19 hijackers, none of whom were American citizens).

    I just asked a simple question that you are afraid to answer because if you answered honestly then you would be admitting the bankruptcy of your position. It’s OK. We all know it already.

    >If fear mattered, then the U.S. government would have been correct to lock up the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. Emotions ran very high against Japanese at the time, and people did not distinguish between Japanese and Japanese Americans.

    You make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. Are you saying that it was acceptable to send the non-citizen Japanese (not Japanese Americans) to the camps?

    >In the United States of America, we are not ruled by mistrust, anger, prejudice or fear. We have laws precisely to defend against the mob mentality of fear and anger. Neither the mistreatment of the Japanese Americans then, nor the mistreatment of Arab Americans now makes sense.

    How exactly are Arab Americans being mistreated?

  11. James Fujita on

    The question is irrelevant because the issue at hand is not security. The real issues, which you have been avoiding, are racism, ethnicity, prejudice and fear.

    You are asking if I would fear three random, unknown Arabs on an airliner. My answer would be no.

    You didn’t tell me anything about these fictional Arabs except that they were speaking Arabic, so in the back of my mind, I didn’t picture three Osama Bin Ladens, I pictured three oil executives. (If they were sitting one row in front of me, I should have seen them getting on the plane.) But, that’s beside the point.

    My answer would still be no.

    I suppose you presume that there is only one correct “honest” answer to that question, and that the “correct” answer is to fear the Arabs. But not everyone is as prejudiced as some people. Not everyone shares the same fears and concerns.

    Prejudice is based largely on fear. If you fear somebody without even knowing anything about that person, that is prejudice. When you presume that people are dangerous based on stereotypes, that is prejudice. To act on the basis of prejudice is discrimination.

    It was fear, prejudice and discrimination that put Japanese Americans into the Internment Camps. It was not right to put either innocent Japanese American citizens OR innocent non-citizens into the camps.
    At the time, people did not distinguish between “enemy Japanese” and “Japanese Americans”. They did not distinguish between citizens or non-citizens. They did not distinguish between innocent or guilty.

    They acted out of irrational fear. They acted based on the limited information available, you might say, but it was still treating a group of people differently on the basis of fear, prejudice, anger and discrimination.

    People today are still acting out of fear.

    Arab Americans are not being sent to camps, thank goodness. But people are still treating them differently. They are making fake assumptions about Arab Americans and Arabs in general. Mosques have been vandalized and and innocent Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have been threatened. That is wrong, and you should know that.

    (Just a side issue, but some people are demanding racial profiling, assuming that all Arabs are alike or that all Muslims are alike.
    That is not morally right; it doesn’t even make security sense. If we stop checking people who don’t look Middle Eastern, or if we just check people with Arabic names, it would be way too easy for terrorists to send people who don’t fit the profile.)

    The situation and the circumstances may have changed since 1945, but the right thing to do has not.

    We know that it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of race or religion. It was wrong then and it is still wrong.

  12. >The question is irrelevant because the issue at hand is not security.

    No, security is THE issue. If not for 9/11, Times Square, London, Madrid, Bali, French riots, murder of Dutch filmmaker, Muhammad cartoon violence, etc., no one would care about Islamic fundamentalism. The so-called civil rights organization, Council on American-Islamic Relations was itself named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case (funding of the terrorist group Hamas). Oh, and let’s not forget the Fort Hood massacre where Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a US CITIZEN, and adherent of violent Islamic jihad killed 13 (allegedly).

    And it is interesting that some say the Army ignored red flags about Major Hasan because of the same political correctness that you support. Get it? Thirteen people are dead, quite possibly because people like you want to pretend religious differences are immaterial.

    >You are asking if I would fear three random, unknown Arabs on an airliner. My answer would be no.

    No, I asked three questions and you (sort of) answered one. Here is an unanswered question: Do you feel exactly the same risk of terrorism from the Japanese and the Arabs?

    Or to pose the question in a slightly different way: Let’s say there is a group of three terrorists. Either the Japanese or the Arabs are terrorists, but you don’t know which group is safe and which is planning a suicide mission. The Japanese group boards Plane A and the Arab group boards Plane B. In this example, you have to board either Plane A or B. Which plane do you choose? If you choose the right plane, you live. If you choose the wrong plane, you die. How do you assess the risk? On what factors would you base your decision?

  13. James Fujita on

    Once again, you haven’t given me enough information to pick either plane.

    All you have said is that one group is Japanese and one group is Arabic.

    Based on your previous statements, the implication is that you believe that the Arabic passengers are more dangerous, but you haven’t given reasons why. In the absence of evidence, I have no way of telling which group is which.

    (That’s assuming that I even have a choice. Last time I checked, airlines did not give passengers a choice of jets to choose from, nor are we given our choice of passengers.)

    By the way, “Arab” is a wide-ranging ethnic group which can include Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, Libyans, Jordanians, Palestinians, Tunisians, Syrians, Lebanese and other related groups.

    The Islamic religion is divided up into several denominations, with moderate and conservative factions. They are not all “fundamentalist,” just as all Christians are not all Evangelical Baptists. There are American Muslims, Malaysian Muslims, European Muslims, Chinese Muslims and Arab Muslims.

    In any case, you are engaged in a classic case of “guilt by association”: i.e., some Arabs are terrorists, therefore all Arabs are suspect. That’s a ridiculous logical fallacy and it is racist.

    The three Arabs on Plane B are Jamie Farr, Casey Kasem and Paula Abdul. (You never said that they weren’t.) I get on the plane with them.

    We have No Fly Lists, on which specific known terrorists are named. We have beefed up security so much it’s a wonder anybody can get to their plane on time. We don’t allow large amounts of liquids on planes. We certainly don’t allow sharp, metal objects.

    Do some Americans fear Arabs and Muslims, including Arab Americans and Muslim Americans? Yes. Is that fear rational? No. Is that fear sufficient reason to treat them like criminals? No.

    Unless, of course, you think it was rational to treat Japanese living in America — both citizens and non-citizen residents — like criminals in 1942.

  14. Well my friend, you took the bait – hook, line, and sinker.

    >Based on your previous statements, the implication is that you believe that the Arabic passengers are more dangerous, but you haven’t given reasons why. In the absence of evidence, I have no way of telling which group is which.

    I did not imply either group is more dangerous. I simply posed a hypothetical scenario and asked which plane YOU would board, given the limited information about both groups.

    >Once again, you haven’t given me enough information to pick either plane.

    That was the point of the question. If you truly believe neither group poses a higher risk than the other, then you should be indifferent about the choice, and therefore just as likely to choose the plane with the Arab group as you would with the Japanese group; in other words, flip a coin to make the choice. Now, if you had answered that way, at least I could respect you for being consistent.

    But, you didn’t. Instead, you want more information. You want to avoid answering the question. Or you rephrase the scenario so that you know who specifically the Arabs are.

    In other words, your response is an acknowledgment that the risk is not the same, so you need more information so you can better assess the risk.

    But in real life, we often (usually) do not have the luxury of having enough information to make an informed decision that enables us to fully hedge against risk, so we have to find markers, variables, etc. that can in some way help to mitigate the risk against terrorist attacks. Your response indicates YOU KNOW there is a different risk involving Arabs and Japanese. So, I can say – thank you for confirming my point.

    >Unless, of course, you think it was rational to treat Japanese living in America — both citizens and non-citizen residents — like criminals in 1942.

    You missed George’s point. 9/11 is the difference. There was no 9/11-type incident involving Japanese or Japanese-Americans in 1941 and 1942. If Issei (or Nisei) had murdered over 3,000 Americans, we would not be having this discussion.

  15. James Fujita on

    I asked for more information because I believe that it is individuals, and not groups, which make a difference. It is individuals who are important.

    I do not believe that ALL Arabs are more dangerous than all Japanese. SOME Japanese are more dangerous than some Arabs. Some are not. There may be a greater risk with some Japanese than with some Arabs.

    By the way, there was no one single 9/11-esque incident involving Japanese Americans during World War II, BUT there were Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens living in America who were sympathetic to Japan — they represented a tiny minority out of thousands, but they did exist. There was the Tachibana spy ring, for example.

    Was this sufficient reason for internment? Of course not. The U.S. government made a horrible, racist mistake. They failed to distinguish between INDIVIDUALS and and an ethnic GROUP. The apparently believed that ALL JAPANESE were more of a risk.

    (Oddly, this did not extend to Japanese on the east coast, such as the architect who designed the World Trade Center towers. Apparently, you had to live on the west coast to be a threat.)

    Those who want to treat all Arabs, or all Muslims, for that matter, differently because they happen to be Arabs or Muslims, are making the same mistake.

  16. The last post veers goes off tangent and does not add to the discussion, filled with straw man arguments and rebuttals. I’ll respond if and when something substantive is posted. In the meantime, the link thoroughly thrashes the idea that the threat of terrorist attacks is the same involving Muslims as it is with other groups.

    “As Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified last month before the House Committee on Homeland Security, ‘One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens.’

    Napolitano wasn’t referring to right-wing militias or lone-wolf crazies. She was talking about ‘terrorist groups inspired by al-Qaeda ideology.’ And, she pointed out, ‘This threat of homegrown violent extremism fundamentally changes who is most often in the best position to spot terrorist activity, investigate and respond.’ “

    As this liberal columnist concludes, “Yes, there are other sources of terrorism. Radical Islam is the biggest and most dangerous.”

    Indeed.

  17. James Fujita on

    Odd, I thought the discussion was comparing the situation of Japanese Americans in World War II and the situation of Arab Americans today.

    The first problem that I see is there is a huge difference between Muslim Americans, Arab Americans, Arab non-Americans and Muslim non-Americans. Also, there are also huge differences between radical Muslims and other Muslim groups. You have consistently failed to make a distinction between Arabs, Arab Americans, Radical Muslims, Muslim Americans and Muslims in general.

    Those who have been invited Thursday’s McCarthy hearing are non-radical American Muslims.

    During World War II, it did not matter if Japanese Americans or Japanese ctizens living in the United States were innocent or guilty of crimes against the United States. They were still treated like they were criminals.

    We didn’t even bother with a hearing, although we did ask “will you swear unqualified allegiance” to the United States. As I recall, a few did say no to that request, insulted that the question would even need to be asked.

    Maybe Peter King should ask that of the Muslim Americans at the hearing.

  18. >Odd, I thought the discussion was comparing the situation of Japanese Americans in World War II and the situation of Arab Americans today.

    Read carefully please. Here is what George said:

    “The one thing I gathered from the news release on the event is that one of the issues to be discussed is the comparison between what happened to the Japanese Americans and what is happening to the Muslim community in the present era. I might be alone in my feelings that the issues between JAs and the Muslims can’t be compared.”

    >The first problem that I see is there is a huge difference between Muslim Americans, Arab Americans, Arab non-Americans and Muslim non-Americans.

    Your initial point was that the 9/11 attacks were committed by Saudis, not Americans. Now I point out that the current threat comes more from homegrown terrorists (i.e., Americans!), according to the Secretary of Homeland Security, you suddenly want to make a finer distinction as if that matters. Guess what? Nobody cares if the terrorists are Arabs or non-Arabs or Muslims or non-Muslims. We just want to be safe. But the common denominator is a belief in radical Islam. Ruth Marcus sums it up best:

    “But the unavoidable fact is that, however much violent terror reflects a distortion of the tenets of Islam, it is not only practiced by adherents of the religion but practiced in its name.
    To ignore the religious nature of the terrorist threat is to succumb to politically correct delusion. To ignore the homegrown religious nature of the terrorist threat is to succumb even further.”

    You are succumbing to a politically correct delusion. Americans have died because of this delusion. Issei and Nisei NEVER did what some Muslims have done in this country. Come clean and admit there is a difference. It is better for you to be safe and right, than indignantly wrong and unsafe. Thank you.

  19. James Fujita on

    I think you’re nitpicking on the first point, but okay. The question is not whether there can be a comparison between Japanese Americans in WWII and Muslim Americans today; the comparison has already been made.
    The question is whether that comparison is valid and logical.

    I’ve made distinctions between Saudi Arabians, Arab Americans, radical Muslims, Muslim Americans, etc. etc. etc. several times throughout this argument.

    The distinction is important because prejudice, racism and discrimination happen because people fail to make these distinctions.
    Prejudice, racism and discrimination are the reasons why the Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens in America were locked up in Internment camps.
    Prejudice, racism and discrimination are the reasons why Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are treated poorly today.

    Are radical Muslims a potential threat? Yes, some are. Are non-radical Muslims a threat? No.

    We can be safe and still afford to fulfill our obligations to human rights.

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