FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants

by

The Japanese American Citizens League held a “Day of Remembrance” at Sebastopol’s Enmanji Buddhist Temple on Feb. 18 in Northern California. Around 200 people marked the 75th anniversary of the incarceration of over 120,000 innocent West Coast Americans of Japanese ancestry in internment camps during World War II.

“They were accused of a crime, sentenced without trial and locked up,” wrote organizer Jodi Hottel in the local daily newspaper. We “hope this reminder of the fragility of our civil liberties will prevent anything like this from happening again.” The event was titled “Protecting Human Rights: Solidarity in Diversity.”

“We are firm in our resolve that this will never happen again,” declared Marie Sugiyama, now 81. She was interned and opened the panel of six speakers of diverse ethnicities. She described the guard towers, barbed wire, and searchlights of her childhood.

“A great injustice was done to Americans,” Sugiyama added. Over 30,000 Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military, helping defeat German fascism and the Imperial Japanese Government.

That Japanese Government had spies in the US, who failed to recruit any Americans of Japanese ancestry. No Japanese American was ever tried for being a spy. The internment was based on racist fears and lies, which the new president continues to propagate, especially against immigrants and Muslims.

“We need to be guided by those ‘better angels’ President Lincoln spoke about,” said journalist and historian Gaye LeBaron, the panel moderator.

“We have an important task—to protect civil rights,” declared African American attorney and civil rights pioneer Charles Bonner. He detailed three ways to do so: direct action, legal action, and legislative action. “We need to sue people who hurt people. This is the beginning of a movement.”

“Our community is experiencing real fear,” said panelist Denia Candela, a dreamer and community activist who emigrated from Mexico. She described the uncertainly created by Trump deporting people, often separating parents from their children, and his positive references to the internment camps. “We need to have each other’s backs,” she contended.

“Mother Earth feels what we are going through. She’s shaking and saying ‘Wake Up!’” said 66-year-old Native American public health administrator Cecilia Dawson. “It feels as if we are fighting again for what we were fighting for in the sixties.”

The final speaker, Mubarack Muthalif of the Islamic Center of North Marin, began with the Islamic blessing and greeting: “May peace be upon you.”

“I tremble about what this administration might do,” he continued, voice choking with emotion. “The Muslim registry is like the Nazis making Jews wear the star of David. We moved from being citizens to being suspects. Our mosques are attacked.”

“How many of you are willing to break a law to protect a Muslim, immigrant, or other threatened person?” asked David Hoffman of the Interfaith Council of Sonoma County from the audience.

Attorney Bonner responded, “Any unjust law needs to be broken. We have to organize. When we do so, Trump will fall.”

“We Jews and Muslims must work together. There are more of us than them,” added another member of the lively audience, to much applause.

“We have to resist with love and compassion. Like hornets, if they attack one of us, we need to swarm,” attorney Bonner declared.

“We are all Americans—no matter what color or faith we are. An attack on one person is an attack on all of us,” added another person.

Participants were informed of future meetings in the California towns of Sebastopol, Petaluma, Cotati, and Santa Rosa, where City Councils and faith groups are discussing issues such as sanctuary cities, the Standing Rock water protectors, and how to work together to build a mass movement of resistance and defiance.

Before and after the Enmanji Temple meeting people conversed and collected signatures on petitions, thus helping build a community of resistance. The “It Won’t Happen Here” petition already has over 4000 churches, other groups, and individual signers.

“This has been an amazing afternoon,” concluded moderator LeBaron.

Such events occurred around the West Coast in Japanese American communities. “I was at the Remembrance Day dinner, an annual event put on by the Merced/Livingston Japanese American Citizens League,” Cynthia Kishi of Sebastopol wrote.

“Mas Matsumoto, the farmer who wrote the book Epitaph of a Peach and nine other books, spoke. He talked about how important it is to speak about the incarceration in light of Trump. He addressed the power of personal story,” Kishi added.

Shepherd Bliss teaches college part time, farms, and has contributed to two-dozen books. He can be reached at: 3sb@comcast.net.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail