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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Japanese Internment Remembered

On the way to the bagel shop, I repeatedly pass a cat that has a little area to stay in outside, attached by a leash.  I eventually found out the name of this chubby looking cat is "Newton" for "Isaac Newton." As with a dog I passed some years back every day, it is a nice little thing to glance over and see the cat in his little cat house or today actually eating some food.  Better, I would say, than having the putative leader of the Republican Party now being Newt Gingrich, who any serious person realizes is a sick joke.  But, are serious people running the show?

Last night, there was a few interesting things on one of the C-SPAN stations (other than Melissa Harris-Perry talking about her new book and Justice Breyer again talking about his) about the Japanese Internment.  Weekends on C-SPAN is the time for Book TV, but for those who have C-SPAN 3, it also is the time for American History, including various lectures.  This time it was a class discussion* involving something my mom (alive if a young child) was surprised to learn about years later about, that is, internment of the Japanese.  There is something shocking about that, but I have learned over time that the shocking becomes the mundane fairly easily, or at least, quite possibly.

After that, Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson (a mismatched pair, the latter now looking like one of those grumpy old Muppets who make cranky comments from the balcony) came on. Mineta as a child was interned in Wyoming, where he met fellow boy scout Simpson, starting a lifelong friendship and in Mineta's words "man love."  No, they are each married (to women and all), so not in that way.  Still, it was a pretty striking thing to say.  As was when Mineta referenced 9/11 and the talk of some wishing to intern certain people then too, but Bush (of all people) saying -- referencing Mineta's experience -- that we can't do that.  Yes, even given what happened, we should remember the difference between it and mass internment of over a hundred thousand citizens and non-citizens.  

And, after that, Sen. Inouye came on to talk about his experience as a teenager in Hawaii at the time of Pearl Harbor (I didn't watch it, but at 11 last night, there was some sort of news reel footage of the events on)  and then being allowed to volunteer to fight (first being declared an enemy alien, which among other things, he said was insulting ... he was born in Hawaii, thus a U.S. citizen from birth).  He later was severely injured while fighting in Italy.  He referenced passing an internment camp and said that he simply does not know if he would have volunteered if in one, not blaming those ("no no" boys, referenced in the above lecture) who did not.  Also, he had to get a lot of blood, most apparently coming from black soldiers in his unit.  The blood in bottles, not plastic vials. 

Striking stuff and it's great that C-SPAN allows the public to watch and remember this along with the "day of infamy" stuff that happened 70 years ago. 


* I will say as an aside the professor is pretty cute and one student in particular kept on asking a lot of questions, someone who looks like he came out of special casting as some smart, slightly ironic college student.