In his latest foray into historical revisionism parading as art review, Edward Rothstein, writing for The Wall Street Journal, would like viewers of two exhibits on Japanese American WWII incarceration to focus less on the actual injustice of Executive Order 9066 and more on “the shameful yet comprehensible complexities” of the decision-making behind it.
Stories of resistance to World War II incarceration often include Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, Fred Korematsu, and Mitsuye Endo. These are the most famous Japanese Americans who resisted the racially based curfew and exclusion, and later the mass incarceration. Their resistance led to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are all deserving of the recognition they’ve received. But did you know that beyond this group, there were a good number of others who willfully disobeyed the exclusion orders authored by EO9066?
Join us as we examine World War II-era Japanese American incarceration history and how it relates to American Muslim rights today. Presenters include Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Densho director Tom Ikeda, CAIR-WA director Arsalan Bukhari, ACLU of Washington director, and spoken word poet Troy Osaki. The event will be emceed and moderated by Michele Storms, deputy director of ACLU of Washington.
By now most of us know that Allegiance, a musical portraying the Japanese American incarceration and that starred George Takei, ran on Broadway for a few months in 2015–16. And you have also likely seen that a live theater version of that play has screened across the country, with an encore performance scheduled for February 19 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066.
Statement from Densho Director Tom Ikeda
For decades, “Never Again” has been a rallying cry for many Japanese Americans. Invoking these words reminds us of the trauma of our own community’s persecution and unlawful detention. It channels that trauma into action to defend the rights and liberties of other marginalized groups, including our Muslim friends today.
“Don’t let history repeat itself,” implores a widely-shared and well-received PSA published by pop star Katy Perry this week. The film short, funded by Perry and directed by Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi to raise awareness about the dangers of Islamophobia, opens with 89 year old Haru Kuromiya and her memories of being herded into a concentration camp during WWII–except that it doesn’t. Haru, as we learn halfway through the video, is in fact Pakistani actress Hina Khan.
Earlier this month, community leaders, including Densho director Tom Ikeda, gathered at Redmond’s Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) mosque to dedicate a new sign, replacing one that had been destroyed in a hate crime. The leaders pressed their hands into cement at the base of the new sign, symbolizing their commitment to stand by MAPS and its congregation of some 5,000 families.
On Sunday, The Los Angeles Times published two reader letters that employed racial stereotypes, misinformation, and logical fallacies to argue in favor of the World War II-era mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. The backlash from readers was swift and loud, so The Times published an acknowledgment that they’d exercised poor editorial judgement to their Readers Rep blog on Monday. But we think they needed to do more, so we decided to help them out with this corrected version of the post. (The original text by Times reporter Deidre Edgar is in plain text, our corrections appear in bold.)
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese navy launched a surprise military attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor located on the island of O’ahu. The attack not only brought America into World War II, but raised suspicions of citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent. The full repercussions of the attack would not be known for months to come, but the immediate aftermath brought catastrophic changes for Japanese Americans who had built lives in Hawai’i and on the West Coast.
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