LEARNING LESSONS FROM THE PAST,
OR BOUND TO REPEAT THEM ???
In these days immediately following September 11 numerous incidents of taunts, hate crimes and violence are being reported on a daily basis throughout the U.S. aimed at Afghan Americans and Arab Americans with some in the government and media even suggesting detaining and interning immigrants considered suspect while some polls show that many Americans support racial profiling.
Voices unafraid to speak out against such social injustice are being heard throughout the land and in particular within the Japanese American community --- for good reason !!!!
"We went through some similar things in World War II when we were evacuated and incarcerated," Yuri Kochiyama, who spent more than two years in an American internment camp during World War II and who now works as an activist on behalf of political prisoners, told the San Francisco Chronicle's Ryan Kim. "Because we experienced harassment, Japanese Americans and all people of color should support one another."
As an apolitical nine-year old living in tranquil West Los Angeles, California, I was unaware on December 7, 1941 that I was about to be a witness to not only the last world war, but also a stark and early lesson in how patriotism, racism and national security can be skillfully exploited by powerful economic and political corporate interests in the pursuit of greed.
It was only a few weeks after Pearl Harbor that World War II would become omnipresent in our daily lives. There was the military patrolling our streets protecting an important nearby airplane factory and a middle-of-the-night scare of having to evacuate our homes because "enemy aircraft" were reportedly spotted off the Southern California coast.
What made the biggest impression, however, on those of us living in that area of Southern California in early 1942 was the almost overnight disappearance of so many of our neighbors and fellow citizens of Japanese ancestry.
Once a community of many gardeners and nurserymen that catered to the needs of the nearby affluent neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, whole blocks suddenly disappeared, businesses and homes were abandoned and deserted.
Lurid stories of spying, the purported discovery of basement arsenals of weapons ready to support the upcoming "Japanese invasion" of the California, and tales of attempted sabotage dominated backfence and dinner conversations, not one of which ever proved to be true.
Thus, began that infamous chapter in California's and the nation's history when Franklin D. Roosevelt in early 1942 issued Executive Order 9066, which saw 120,000 West Coast Japanese American citizens forced from their homes, businesses, and farms into concentration camps for the duration of World War II. There, not only were thousands of American citizens disenfranchised of their constitutional rights, but with the removal from their homes and their land, a significant segment of the family-farm class structure of California agriculture would be dramatically and forever altered.
Despite all those historical land ownership restrictions put on the Japanese in California, by 1940 over half of the state's Japanese American population were rooted in the soil. Although there were 5135 Japanese farm operators in 1940, largely because of the 1913 Alien Land Act, only 1295 were land owners.
Japanese farmers, by engaging in intensified cultivation, tended to raise the productivity of the land and its yield, along with also raising land values. In addition, they had also proved to be a barrier to those large growers who desired to buy or lease additional land in an effort to get larger and larger. The fact that such productivity efforts were already a well-established fact in California agriculture was seemingly ignored by those same small growers blinded as they were by overt racial prejudice fanned by corporate agribusiness interests.
Of the 240,000 acres the Japanese American farmers operated, 80,000 were owned and 160,000 were leased, a combined total of less than three-tenths of one percent of the state's farms. Yet, these farms yielded seven times more dollars that the average California farm as the Japanese planted 75% of their land, while the average state farmer only 25% of their land.
In a 1975 study done by California's Davis Research Group, researcher Richard Johnson observed: "Thus, the small scale intensive farming methods which were brought across the seas with the Japanese were proving far more effective than the large-scale technological-chemical farming which was being developed by the agricultural colleges and applied by most California growers."
Japanese American farmers had been producing 90% of the state's strawberry crop, 73% of the snap beans, 75% of the celery, 70% of the lettuce, 60% of the cauliflower, 60% of the spinach, and 50% of the tomatoes. They also grew cantaloupes, carrots, onions, nursery stock, peas, cranberries, radishes and sugar beets.
By the early fall of 1941, the Western Growers and Shippers Protective
Association (now the Western Growers Association) in conjunction with the Los
Angeles Chamber of Commerce were actively engaged in a concerted effort to
pressure the U.S. Attorney and the War Department to remove the Japanese from
California farming and were urging the state's Congressional delegation to pass
a resolution to ban the Japanese from
the West Coast. All those efforts came to a successful climax on December 7, 1941
The first step in interning the nation's West Coast Japanese Americans after the beginning of World War II came as many of the evacuees were sent to the Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California.
Here, on what was once the 4000-acre home ranch of the Southern California libertine land baron E. J. "Lucky" Baldwin, the ranch where my German immigrant grandfather was employed and where my father spent his boyhood, over 20,000 dispossessed Japanese Americans were forced to live in horse stalls for nearly a year.
By August, 1942 they and thousands of other internees who had been confined in some 13 other temporary centers would be transferred to ten isolated California "relocation" camps at Manzanar, Topaz, Poston, Jerome, Gila, Heart Mountain, Tule Lake, Rohwer, Minidoka, and Granada for the duration of the war.
Meanwhile, the highly productive and intensely cultivated land that had been quickly confiscated from them, land of which they never would be fully reimbursed, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Farm Security Administration (FSA). FSA records indicate that 6664 pieces of Neisi agricultural property, totaling 258,000 acres, were involved in the seizure process. Property losses alone were later estimated at $400 million, with less than ten percent ever repaid after the war.
While the government sought to portray this massive "relocation" as simply an act of "national security," ironically in Hawaii, nearly 3000 miles closer to the enemy and considerably more vulnerable to sabotage and invasion, Japanese Americans were not subject to such internment.
Liberal commentary would later seek to explain the government's actions as
yet another example of the racial prejudice that has so frequently been seen
throughout the Golden State's history and which has so often reared its ugly
head in American society. Compelling evidence, however suggests that neither the
"national security" nor the "yellow octopus" arguments was the principal
motivating factor for causing this flagrant
abuse of American citizen's constitutional and property rights.
For the most part the primary reason for these American citizens' incarceration has remained generally concealed and quietly camouflaged in jingoistic rhetoric.
Fueled by California's long-standing Alien Land laws and the immediate wave of hatred and perceived danger that swept the U.S. after December 7, Austin E. Anson, managing secretary of the powerful Salinas Valley Grower-Shipper Association, was immediately dispatched to Washington, D.C. hours after Pearl Harbor to urge federal authorities to remove all individuals of Japanese ancestry from the area.
Anson drew a frightful scenario for the War and Navy departments, the Attorney General, and every Congressman he could possibly get to listen to him. He described how, for example, the Salinas Valley sloped off into Monterey Bay making it an ideal landing place for an invading army. He told of how the valley’s Japanese could support such a landing by blowing up bridges, disrupting traffic, and sabotaging local defenses.
While many in Washington, caught up in the war hysteria, believed Anson, law enforcement officials at the Justice Department and Attorney General's office did not.
Edward Ennis, Director of the U.S. Justice Department's Enemy Alien Unit, some 42 years later, related to "60 Minutes" Ed Bradley how indeed there was "no factual basis" for moving against Americans of Japanese ancestry at that time. "We were very clear about that, we told the President we didn't believe there was any need to remove these farmers who were helping feed the civilian population and the military and it was really nonsense.
"I think DeWitt (Lt. Col. John L. DeWitt, Commander of the Western Defense
Command and the government's coordinator of the entire internment program), who
said `a Jap is a Jap' honestly or very mistakenly, believed that he was
protecting the country from possibilities of sabotage, espionage, and
even invasion by taking such
action, but he didn't move in that direction until he learned by political events, not military events, political events, that he would be supported in such an action."
Those "political events" and the motivation behind them were apparent to the former Justice department official. "The farmer-grower association going to Congress asked for getting rid of these people. This was largely a movement by a lot of different people to use the opportunity to get the Japanese farmer off the West Coast."
Responding to Bradley's query as to "why did they want to get rid of them, competition?" Ennis declared, "they got all their land, they got thousands and thousands of acres of the best land in California! The Japanese were just pushed off the land!"
Thus, as Ennis asserts and as Anson earlier explained to Frank J. Taylor of the Saturday Evening Post in May, 1942: "We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We might as well be honest. We do. It's a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work and they stayed to take over. They offer higher prices and higher rents than the white man can pay for land. They undersell the white man in the markets. They can do this because they raise their own labor. They work their women and children while the white farmer has to pay wages for help.
"If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we'd never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Japs grow. And we don't want them back when the war ends, either!"
As author and researcher Anne Reeploeg Fisher pointed out in her 1965 book "Exile Of A Race": "The `farmers' from whom Anson spoke, were the Montgomery Street Farmers --- Montgomery Street, San Francisco being the Wall Street of the West --- considered one of the most powerful aggregations of wealthy corporations in the U.S.."
Others also actively joined in the push for the removal of the Japanese as "a
threat to national security." They included California State Attorney General
Earl Warren (later to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), the Joint
Immigration Committee, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the
California Farm Bureau, and its close
ally, the militant, quasi-fascist Associated Farmers.
The latter organization, upon whose executive committee Anson served, was the subject of a study in 1938 by the Simon J. Lubin Society of California Inc. and later in the 1940-41 LaFallotte Congressional hearings. They showed that the initial funds for the organization were raised by Earl Fisher of Pacific Gas & Electric and Leonard Wood of the California Packing Company (nee Del Monte Corp.)
Some of its major contributors and backers at both the state and local levels at the time included Sante Fe, Western Pacific, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific railroads; PG & E and Southern California Gas Co.; Bank of America and Transamerica Corp.; the State Chamber of Commerce, and Joseph DiGiorgio, among others.
Research by the Davis Research Group also found that several corporate agribusiness interests as well as members of the Western Growers and Shippers Association received confiscated Japanese land at practically no cost, but actual documentation showing which group received what vanished after World War II.
In the early months of the war when it was already apparent to the intelligence community that no acts of sabotage or espionage were being recorded by Japanese Americans, Lt. Gen. DeWitt was nevertheless posing a curious hypothesis. Given the fact that many Nisei lived near "strategic points," he argued, such as air fields, power lines, military installations and oil fields, "the very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken."
In a rather sardonic aside on the Japanese American properties being near
"strategic points," a postwar U.S. Department of Interior report observed that:
"It was not a question of the Japanese stealthily moving in on strategic
installations, airfields, oil field and power plants, but of these modern
phenomena moving in on Japanese who had by 1941 been cultivating their land,
establishing their homes, rearing and educating
their children, paying their taxes and attending to their own business, the great majority of them, for upwards of 30 years."
DeWitt's reasoning, contained in a February 14, 1942 memorandum addressed to the Secretary of War, came rather ironically only two days after a nationally syndicated newspaper column titled "The Fifth Column on the Coast" first appeared. Arguing that the conditions on the West Coast were so grave, in view of the dangers it faced, the civil rights of citizens of Japanese ancestry should be set aside, the column observed:
" . . .since the outbreak of the Japanese war there has been no important sabotage on the Pacific Coast. From what we know about Hawaii and about the fifth column in Europe, this is not, as some have liked to think, a sign that there is nothing to be feared. It is a sign that the blow is well organized and that it is held back until it can be struck with maximum effect."
In addition to DeWitt, other national syndicated columnists echoed these same thoughts all having emanated from the pen of Walter Lippman.
It was not until 1984 in Gordon Hirabayashi vs the United Statesthat 19 ex-interred Japanese Americans sought damages alleging that the government had improperly concealed information from the Supreme Court analyses developed by naval intelligence in 1942 that the internment of Japanese Americans was not a militarynecessity.
Subsequently, it was found that the government had indeed concealed information and literally invented falsehoods regarding the military's claim that the need for internment was necessary.
Thus, in January 1986 a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that these same Japanese Americans who were detained during this shameful human rights violation could rightfully sue the Federal government for property losses. The Court also found that the statue of limitations under the American-Japanese Evacuation Claims Act passed by Congress in 1948 to repay survivors for lost property, at a rate of ten cents on the dollar, was not applicable.
Overruling the earlier decision by a lower court that the suit should be dismissed because "much time has passed, memories have dimmed and many of the actors have died."
On the contrary, Judge J. Skelly Wright declared "nearly 40 years later . . . the government says the time for justice has passed. We cannot agree. We have learned that extraordinary injustice can provoke extraordinary acts of concealment. Where such concealment is alleged it ill behooves the government of a free people to evade an honest accounting."
On September 17, 1987, the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill 243-141 formally apologizing for the internment and at the same time appropriating $1.2 billion in reparations to the 66,000 surviving Japanese American detainees.
In the years after the war it was none other than Earl Warren who would
reflect that this citizen internment was a mistake that demonstrates "the
cruelty of war when fear, get tough military psychology, propaganda and racial
antagonism combine with one's responsibility for public security to
produce such acts."
WHEN LUTHER TWEETEN SPEAKS
DOES ANYBODY LISTEN ???
"Finally, I want to say one element. A very sobering element. A friend of mine, John Tomasek, is here. He is a great friend . . . of agriculture and agribusiness and, best of all, Ohio State football. John told me, and he gave me a book, Lone Tree. Has anyone here read it? It is a poignant account of John's cousin, John Hughes . . . he was killed by a farmer. It reminded me of the events of September 11.
"Because the guy who killed him was a basically very decent guy. Maybe you think this is inappropriate, but I have a feeling those bombers, those suicide folks of September 11, probably grew up without a crime record in many cases and a lot of people would view them as very decent people even though they ended up as terrorists. What happened along the way to the guy who killed John Hughes and the bombers?
"Somebody got to them with some highly irresponsible rhetoric. And when we pass around innuendo, as the Organization for Competitive Markets does, for example, as to agribusiness, for people who are on the edge, that is enough to throw them over the edge. In a bunch of cases, bankers were killed by farmers because of that atmosphere of innuendo and fear and hate and so we're creating left wing hate groups such as the Organization for Competitive Markets, that I think is very damaging to the country. We should wait before we get our facts before we speculate about the mortal dangers of perceptions of some of the mergers or alliances or whatever and not use innuendo."
--- Dr. Luther Tweeten from an event billed as a "Debate on the Structure of Agriculture" at Iowa State University on September 24, 2001. Dr. Tweeten is an agricultural economist (emeritus status) at Ohio State University.
On can only wonder if the Organization for Competitive Marketing will
continue to invite Dr. Tweeten to be one of its regularguest speakers at its
annual meetings as it has so frequentlyin the past???
USTR ROBERT ZOELLICK;
TIES FAST TRACK LEGISLATION
TO "U.S RESPONSE TO TERRORISM"
PROTESTORS "NO FRIENDS OF THE POOR"
" . . . This President and this Administration will fight for open markets and free trade. We will not be intimidated by those who have taken to the streets to blame trade --- and America --- for the world's ills. The global trading system has demonstrated --- from Seoul to Santiago --- that it is a pathway out of poverty and despair. As President Bush stated in July in a speech at the World Bank, the protesters against globalization, largely upper middle class and affluent young people, are `no friends of poor.' Or as former President Zedillo of Mexico said, the protesters `seem strangely determined to save the developing world from development.' The plural of anecdote is not fact . . . ."
--- Robert B. Zoellick U.S. Trade Representative, "American Trade Leadership:
What is at Stake," The Institute for International Economics, Washington,
D.C., September 24, 2001
U.S. FLAUNTS "AFFLUENCE AND POWER"
WORLD REACTS IN 'VARYING DEGREES"
R.C. LONGWORTH, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: . . . Nothing --- no complaint against corporations or capitalism --- justifies the slaughter of innocent civilians at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the West and especially the United States have to understand the alienation that the American-led rush toward globalization has caused in these left-behind regions of the world. "In a globalized world with instant communications, it is impossible to have excessive opulence alongside grinding poverty without something, sometime, somewhere, exploding," said William Van Dusen Wishard, a former official in the Commerce Department and president of WorldTrends Research. "We Americans have flaunted our affluence and power in the
face of the world, and the world has reacted in varying degrees, terrorism being only the most extreme form of reaction."
The globalization gospel insists that a rising tide lifts all boats and that the global economy is increasing incomes and improving lives everywhere it goes. This is not true even in more favored areas, as farmers and factory workers from the Midwest to Southeast Asia can attest. In large areas of the world, global communications have excited expectations and overturned centuries of traditions, but the global economy has not arrived to fulfill those expectations or to replace those traditions with something of value.
Africa is an example, of course, but the Middle East is Exhibit A. "The Middle East is really pathetic in its relative lack of participation in the global economy," said Marvin Zonis, a professor at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business and an expert on the region.
The global economy is powered by trade and investment, but, apart from the
oil and gas industry, there is virtually no Western investment in or trade with
Middle Eastern economies, Zonis said. Foreign investment in the region was about
$6.5 billion in 1998, according to UN statistics. Of this, $4.8 billion went to
Saudi Arabia alone; the other countries, with more than 400 million people, got
$1.7 billion. This is less than
the amount that went to Hungary, with 10 million people, one-third as much as what went to Thailand (60 million people), one-twelfth as much as what went to Sweden (8 million people).
"If any region has got the worst of the global economy but none of the best,
it is the Middle East. `People see the disruption in their own lives," said
William Reno, a political science professor at Northwestern University. "They
recognize that markets can be a very destructive force. In the United States,
which is the center of this economy, jobs are destroyed, businesses are
destroyed, there is destruction. But our economy offers opportunities, too, for
new jobs and businesses and training. In marginal parts of the world, all they
get is the destruction." . . . .
ACCESSORY BEFORE THE FACT
SAM SMITH, PROGRESSIVE REVIEW UNDERNEWS: Among those who escaped injury in the recent disasters was an American establishment responsible for the costliest military defeat against a foreign adversary ever to occur on home soil.
CNN didn't tell you that, but aside from the internecine Civil War, the largest number of American deaths in battle on our mainland prior to the recent assaults occurred during the Revolutionary War --- about 4,500. Actual battle deaths --- not all on the mainland or even in our colonies --- during the War of 1912 were 2,300; the Mexican War, 1,700; the Spanish American War, 400; and at Pearl Harbor 2,400. In September, over 6,000 Americans were lost when the biggest and best funded military in world history was defeated by a handful of guerillas armed mainly with knives.
In normal circumstances there would be talk of courts martial (as there was in the case of Pearl Harbor) and impeachment (as there was during the Vietnam War). Instead we have been conned into waving the flag on behalf of an establishment that has shamefully failed the country through a combination of arrogance, greed, stupidity, unpreparedness, carelessness, and corruption.
Consider, for example, the fact that we are now getting lessons on patriotism from politicians and journalists who spent the past decade tossing American sovereignty down the drain in the name of "free trade." Consider that our military, alienating the restless in scores of country, turned out to be a cause of our troubles rather than of their elimination.
Consider an intelligence establishment that help train the guerillas who have now turned on us. Consider the politicians who undermined our safety to please the oil and defense industries or who endangered our lives in order to support Israel and gain the campaign rewards that followed. Consider a foreign policy intelligentsia that could not tell the difference between realpolitik and realstupid.
This is not cause for unity, flag-waving and loyalty to the latest political puppet of a decadent elite that has led us into such a crisis. It is cause for shock and anger, for citizen inquiries and investigations into the questions the think tanks, Congress and the media refuse to ask, and for a Solidarity-type movement in which Americans who love their land, the freedom they once possessed, and the decency to which they aspire come together not just to bring peace in a war-mad moment but to cause a transformation in how power is exercised.
I was asked the other day what I would do if I were president. I declined the hypothesis because, I said, the only way that would happen would be if the Green Party had come to power, which would mean that America would have already have been acting in a far different manner than it is today and thus the attacks would have been far less like even to have occurred. I might have added that it was a little late to be seeking the advice of those who have repeatedly sought a different course and who, in return, have been scorned, kept off the ballot, not invited to debates, and blacked out of the media.
Further, the American establishment, despite its shameful and disastrous failure, refuses even now to listen to other than itself. Check this out by counting how many minutes on mainstream TV or inches in your paper are devoted to non-military, non-violent solutions to our problem.
Of course, the establishment would have you believe that the guerillas sprung
from the global forest like the Big Bad Wolf going after Little Red Riding Hood.
It relies heavily on the American faith that bad things have only two sources:
accident or someone else's evil. The idea, such as was imbedded for centuries in
maritime law, that a collision often involves divided fault, is alien to us save
in a few instances such as when an abused spouse shoots her husband. Yet we must
now face our proportional
responsibility not only in the name of honesty but in the name of survival. Nations can not well endure on such a diet of denial as ours.
The question of what one should do at this moment is clouded by another truth: there may actually be no adequate defense against that which we fear. To believe that we will be safe if we only ban, search, and spy on enough things, and jail enough people on enough specious grounds, is a path towards madness. Like the individual suffering from agoraphobia, we will become prisoners in our own rooms.
The possibility of no available defense is frightening until one realizes that we live happily with it every day in other contexts. For example, no husband and wife adequately protects themselves from being murdered by each other or by their children. Yet, most do not sleep in bulletproof vests nor pat the kids down each time they walk in the house. That's because we have found other ways of assuring the safety in these relationships based on means beyond those used by the military and police. Similarly, despite the often heated nature of labor negotiations, I have never heard of a mediator going into the conference room fully armed.
To define the possible solutions to this crisis as only those of war and security is to admit defeat, for it is on this level that we are most vulnerable. Yet these appear to be virtually the sole tools our establishment understands. Thus not only has it brought unprecedented shame and danger to this land, it proposes with unbridled hubris to compound its errors by more of the same.
The rest of us, whether out of moral sense or pragmatic grasp, must no longer
enable such madness but tell those who have failed and betrayed us that they
may not, must not, damage further our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred
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