Wednesday, August 25, 2004

My date tonight with Mrs. Ugly Naked Guy

I spent part of another evening with the rest of the wannabe intellectual coffee-slurping clones down at the Starbucks/Barnes and Noble. As usual I read books for free that I have no intention of buying (they don't mind though because I asked them and my wife makes up for my free-loading ways with her purchases).

Anyway, I picked up a book that validated ideas I have had for years but never verbalize for fear I will be fired from my job for not agreeing with the NEA. (Even my usually like-minded wife and friends cringe when I mention my feelings on this subject.) I have always felt that the internment of the Japanese during WWII was not only justified, but the common sense thing to do.

Until I saw Michelle Malkin's new book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for "Racial Profiling" in World War II and The War on Terror, I never knew anyone who agreed with me. Now not only have I found validation for my ideas, but I also have information about the whole period that you never hear about in your history class.

But first, I must confess my amazement over all the hand-wringing about the internment issue. People make out that we were so unenlightened in the 40's that we reacted with unreasonable fear. How can we say that people acted hysterically when we weren't there? We weren't in their shoes! Maybe we would think internment a good idea too, if we lived back then. I am not saying that for this reason alone it must have been a good idea, but I cannot dismiss out-of-hand the possibility that there were good reasons.

That is why I was so interested to finally find someone who agreed with me and documented some of the assumptions that I held. A good starting place to really examine the issue is some of Ms. Malkin's recent columns (http://www.townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/mm20040810.shtml). Also, MichelleMalkin.com has other columns and her blogs that discuss the same issue. Here are some of the most interesting items to me:

*Japanese made up only half of the internees during the war. We ugly Americans are guilted into believing that only people who looked different were interred, but in truth there were large numbers of Germans and Italians too.

*We had to give $20,000 to redress the wrongs done to the Japanese in these camps, but in way back in 1948 Congress paid out millions to those internees who had losses; they were already compensated by this law and many others over the years while immigrants from other countries got nothing.

*We are constantly told that it is silly to assume that a first-generation Japanese immigrant might still have some loyalty to Japan in wartime. Malkin's book gives irrefutable evidence that in fact there were instances of espionage and worse.

Heck, if I moved to a different country that was at war with America, I would certainly help my homeland all I could, who wouldn't?


11 comments:

Erik Tabeau said...

Heres a solution: "Demmand that Japan repay the internees as there would have been no internees if they hadn't decided to attack Pearl Harbor.

Option B: I keep reading from personal accounts "I would have been glad to do my part in the war effort". Well, all congress would have had to say is "that is your duty" and that would be that.

The Anti-Puritan said...

Before you get too excited about internment, you may want to read this article by libertarian (not liberal!) commentator Cathy Young. She points out that it's not necessary to rationalize the internment of Japanese-Americans in order to defend reasonable precautions against traitors and terrorists.

Ugly Naked Guy said...

Brian:
Thanks for the article! It certainly sheds some more light on the subject. There were some things I didn't know, so I am always glad for the opportunity to be informed.

However, I must wonder how much evidence of subversive activities the author requires before she thinks precautions need to be taken in wartime. Of course there is no way of knowing whether there wouldn't have been more incidents of collaboration had our government not acted. Any crime or chance for misbehavior starts first with an opportunity. Once internment was the policy and it became clear someone was paying attention, perhaps some decided not to try anything.

But to me all of that doesn't even matter. Really, I don't care whether or not there was any evidence of spying by the Japanese at that time. It is just common sense to be wary of a people who could very well have close relatives working to annihilate us. My gosh, moving people away from militarily sensitive areas seems like TOO LITTLE action to me. We were at war with their homeland, how could you expect them to be on our side?

I don't know, you tell me; if you were in a foreign country when when the U.S. attacked it, wouldn't you walk-not-run to the nearest consulate to find out how you could A)get out of town in one piece, B)convince them that you were not a threat, or C)find out how you could cooperate given the awkward situation you now find yourself in?

Yes, there was much racism toward the Japanese at that time and that is never OK, but I believe our government did LESS than what any other government would have done in the same situation. I was not living at the time, but who am I to say that any fear people had then was unfounded?

The Anti-Puritan said...
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The Anti-Puritan said...
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The Anti-Puritan said...
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The Anti-Puritan said...

“However, I must wonder how much evidence of subversive activities the author requires before she thinks precautions need to be taken in wartime.”

Subversive activities by whom: whole ethnic groups or individuals? One of the great things about the American criminal justice system is its insistence on individual, not collective, accountability. If John Gotti is found to be a crook, should we assume that all Italian-Americans are crooks?

“Of course there is no way of knowing whether there wouldn't have been more incidents of collaboration had our government not acted. Any crime or chance for misbehavior starts first with an opportunity.”

I quote Benjamin Franklin: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

“Really, I don't care whether or not there was any evidence of spying by the Japanese at that time. It is just common sense to be wary of a people who could very well have close relatives working to annihilate us.”

In another post, you give Scott Peterson the benefit of the doubt in his murder trial despite a good deal of “chilling” evidence against him. If you regard an individual as innocent until proven guilty, why are you willing to convict an entire race of people without any evidence at all? And don't tell me that you're not technically convicting them of anything. Forced relocation and internment are de facto punishments of a high order.

“I don't know, you tell me; if you were in a foreign country when when the U.S. attacked it, wouldn't you walk-not-run to the nearest consulate to find out how you could A)get out of town in one piece, B)convince them that you were not a threat, or C)find out how you could cooperate given the awkward situation you now find yourself in?”

The United States was not a foreign country for most of the victims of this policy.

“Yes, there was much racism toward the Japanese at that time and that is never OK, but I believe our government did LESS than what any other government would have done in the same situation.”

Maybe, but so what? We pride ourselves on being the Land of the Free. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard than most of the world's governments. Cathy Young has made this point in another article of hers.

“I was not living at the time, but who am I to say that any fear people had then was unfounded?”

On Seinfeld, it was understandable that George Costanza would be frightened by the fire in the kitchen. But that doesn't excuse him for knocking down an elderly woman in his panicked rush out the door. We hold people to moral, legal, and political standards of conduct regardless of their emotions.

Whether you realize it or not, you're using moral relativism to support a right-wing position. This is surprising, since moral relativism is supposedly a vice of the left.

The Anti-Puritan said...
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Ugly Naked Guy said...

Brian,
I'm so glad my site has proved to be so useful to you as you learned more about how this technology works! Seriously, I know exactly how you must feel because I have learned tons in the past week as I set this up. The next thing I need to learn is how to clean up the litter you left me! :)

As far as our discussion, I am afraid that we are at an impasse (sp?). (This doesn't mean I have run out of arguements!) It seems clear that you feel just as strongly as I do on the subject and neither of us seem about to be swayed in the other's direction. Of course I would much rather the whole world agree with me on everything, but one can't have everything.

I only know my own motives in this matter so I can't speak for anyone else. I know that MY support for the policy of internment has nothing to do with racism, but rather the right of a nation to make decisions to ensure its security.

I am thankful for the thoughtful way you have articulated your position and hopefully I made some sense in getting my ideas across too.

The Anti-Puritan said...

Yes, it appears that we must cordially agree to disagree. It's been a pleasure debating you.

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