Selecting my usual nightly Netflix documentary I came across this documentary and I couldn’t help but draw a few parallels even though they are currently not as severe.
This is a documentary about the Japanese/American internment during WWII. It is a dark period of US history that most people are not very familiar with. In case you need a quick refresher, here is the Wikipedia link.
Now, I know my history but this story really came alive to me after moving to San Francisco. As you may know there is a “Japan Town” here but, as I have learned, it never fully recovered after all of the inhabitants were forced to leave during the war.
My education began soon upon my arrival in San Francisco as I had the good fortune to quickly find a job with a very large Japanese corporation. We participated in all the Japanese events of the city with none being more important than the Cherry Blossom festival. This takes place right in the middle of Japan Town and is where my interest was first peaked.
I noticed that many of the shops were Korean and that there were very few young Japanese people who actually lived there. When I asked why, I got a very quick history lesson.
You see, Japan Town up to WWII was full of Japanese but they were all forced to leave and live in internment camps. They had to leave everything behind. There was a great fear that they were aiding the enemy “Japan” and so were not trusted. Yet, over time it was realized that these were Americans and the majority had no affiliation with Japan the country. So, when the war ended they were shipped to other places where jobs were more readily available and thus dispersed throughout the United States.
Then, in 1998 President Ronald Reagan issued a formal apology which was a very long time in coming. It was not right what was done to the Japanese and with the apology never to be repeated.
*Side note: I met the mother (Issei – First Generation Japanese) of one of my colleagues and she was sent to an internment camp. She told me what happened and all I could do was listen. I had no response.
*Side Note 2: A popular place to visit when in Munich is Dachau. I’ve visited there as you can see in the picture and I tell you it is a very depressing place.
Everyone is familiar with Dachau due to the movies and famous WWII tales. But how many people are familiar with the following?
This is a Japanese internment camp that used to be located right in San Bruno about 15 minutes from San Francisco. It has now been replaced by a shrine to capitalism more commonly known as a shopping mall.
It has since been torn down and replaced by this plaque in a small little garden that nobody notices.
Now, granted, the US internment camps were nothing like the Nazi variety but if you want to argue the awfulness of internment camps I suggest you apply to Fox News.
Now, going back to the Cherry Blossom festival held in Japantown, I have some inside information as to how they choose the ladies for the Cherry Blossom beauty pageant. There are not enough full blood young Japanese ladies to form a full court. A court is comprised of about 10 ladies so really not many at all. Then, they lowered it to half Japanese, and then a quarter because they still could not find enough.
So what happened to all the Japanese? Well, they simply became American and melted into society (albeit under terrible circumstances). However, we cannot simply blame it all on a sort of forced integration as the same is happening to the Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and every other race here in the Bay Area. Over time, they simply become Americans whether their parents approve or not.
You might be surprised to know that it is not Asians simply melting into a white majority. It is the white people melting into an Asian majority.
But currently, it is not Asians or Japanese (inside subtle joke there) that are having a hard time in the USA. It is the Muslims.
It was once said in the fashion world that “Red is the new black.” Well, Muslims are the new Japanese, the new Poles, the new Italians, the new Africans, the new whoever had a hard time in this country.
How do I know this? Well, I know because THERE WAS A CONGRESSIONAL HEARING THAT NOBODY CARED ABOUT THIS PAST MONTH!
But true to form we have the new idiot demagogues such as Glenn Beck and Limbaugh who feast on fear, bigotry and hate.
While I was watching this movie, a Nissei (second generation Japanese) said that the US government believed the Japanese Americans were working with the enemy,,, Japan.
This recalled to mind a quote from Glenn Beck to the first US Muslim Congressman.
‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies’ – Glenn Beck
Well, as it turned out for Japanese Americans, they were not working with Japan and an official government apology was issued by a REPUBLICAN!
I cannot help but draw a parallel to current Muslim Americans and the congressional hearings. Again, the government is targeting a group of people basically due to 9-11. Only this time, it is not necessarily a country, not a race but an entire religion.
Sure, there are no camps and I would like to believe us enlightened enough that we would not do so again. However, with the amount of bile and hatred spewed by Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Bachmann and the rest of their hate-fest club I really cannot be too sure that it wouldn’t happen again.
After all the process has already begun with our friends over in Europe with perhaps the most visible being Marine Le Pen. Just a quick look at this quote should get you thinking, or if not, read the entire article below.
Ms Le Pen’s talent has been to move the far-right away from its thuggish neo-Nazi fixation to more respectable concerns about integration and what she calls “Islamisation”. – The Economist
In case you missed it, Neo-Nazi and integration were just used in the same sentence. There you go Beck, no need to draw some far flung parallel using Nazis, it is written in black ink supporting your strain of thinking.
In school, they always tell us to learn about history because history has an uncanny ability to repeat itself.