CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: The Importance of Being Katyal


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on June 11, 2011.)


Question: What recent Los Angeles Times front page story did not even make the inside pages of The New York Times?

Answer: The U.S solicitor general’s admission that a predecessor had purposely withheld information that might have prevented Executive Order 9066 and the subsequent forced evacuation of 100,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans from the West Coast in 1942.

By now you should be aware the *acting solicitor general, a gentleman by the name of Neal Katyal, admitted last week to suppression of evidence by Charles Fahy, his predecessor prior to the advent of World War II; an “oversight” that played a huge role in the displacement decision. (*CR2S predicts Katyal now probably faces opposition for a permanent appointment.)

It was a well-known fact the Ringle Report (Office of Naval Intelligence, 1941) found that “only a few” Japanese posed a potential security threat and that most of those were identified or already in custody. Unfortunately Fahy, for whatever reason, failed to notify the Supreme Court of the findings. What ensued was the establishment of a curfew, then the inevitable unanimous decision on the inland relocation of an ethnic population for the public’s protection and evacuee safety. (Italics mine.)

Let’s be real. When the president (FDR in case you’ve forgotten), Congress, state and local governments, the military and California economic interests are all of one mind, will a lowly bureaucrat stand up for the truth? [After a bit of digging I found an interesting tidbit: Fahy was made a U.S. federal judge and later served as a United Nations delegate. I naively ask: What is the penalty for the knowing suppression of evidence?]

Everyone knows and admits the evacuation was wrong and illegal. Au contraire. On the day the Katyal news broke, my CR2S column contained a letter-to-the-editor in the L.A. Times that chastised (Irvine University Law Dean) Erwin Chemerinsky for his stand on the issue, the writer stating (we) were better off being relocated and that “it is documented that a significant number of Japanese here and in Hawaii … felt an unqualified sense of loyalty to their ancestral homeland.” And take my word for it, there are thousands who firmly believe that to be true. Here, there and everywhere in 2011.

I suggest an organization of prominence or a person of stature pick up the guidon and launch a movement to recognize and honor Neal Katyal for having the guts to point out a huge mistake made in his own department. Or at least a campaign to make him solicitor general without the “acting” chad. I’m sure there are many unhappy underlings who now wish him ill. And am I adding unnecessary fuel to the fire by mentioning he looks Indian? He sure ain’t white. And as far as Fahy is concerned, the guy who started this whole mess 70 years ago, maybe the New York Times will find room to run a belated sidebar story on his guilt and involvement.

The subject matter above gives me a perfect segue to remind the hundreds of ex-Postonites that the final gathering of this dwindling band of history-makers will be held at Laughlin, Nev., on the weekend of Oct. 7-8-9, only four months down the desert road. In talking with some fence-straddlers, the excuse for not having made reservations already hinges on the recent Nisei practice of not making plans too far in advance. (You know, the “never can tell” cautious attitude.) Well, folks, lemme tellya, the Reunion Committee has a refund policy (writ in large print) so if for a good reason you can’t make it, your heirs will get the refund.

Keep in mind this final reunion is being specifically aimed for the benefit of youngsters, all you Jappos (and others) under the age of 70! Just like visiting the Pyramids (well, maybe not right now) and learning about the Egyptians and Elizabeth Taylor, they will have an opportunity to see vast acres of alfalfa where once their (great) grandparents resided. (But don’t be fooled by the greenery and lush surroundings. In our day it was hot and cold and barren.)

Quite frankly CR2S believes this final hurrah will be both a ritual of praise and a final burial, a la Marc Anthony and Brutus. The committee is diligently preparing a program of interest for the uninitiated, quizzical generations. They are quite certain the old-timers will fend for themselves with wheelchair and walker races, pseudo kendo matches with canes, and the baa-chans will find a spot of shade for bento close to a Porta-Potty.

If you’ve misplaced the initial information/app mailer, contact me and I’ll make sure you get the needed information to register. There will be “Hangover” and “Kung Fu Panda” third editions, but this will indeed be the final edition of Poston Camp One reunions.

Try to make it.


W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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