Thursday, November 11, 2004
A salute to all of our great country’s military veterans today, and every day. My grandfather was a doughboy in WWI and my dad was a 17-year-old ensign on a Merchant Marine ship off the Philippines in WWII. We are among those who believe Hiroshima was necessary to prevent a massive land invasion of Japan to end the war. That invasion would quite possibly have taken the life of my father and far more people than the A-bombs killed.
So I’m a proud, patriotic American and a bit of a history buff, and that’s why I was appalled when one of the nine assigned novels for English classes at my daughters’ former middle school in central Omaha was ‘’Farewell to Manzanar.’’ Published in 1973 by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, it’s one of the most slanted, anti-American books I’ve ever seen.
It’s a histrionic, exaggerated account of the relocation and internment of ethnic Japanese people on the West Coast after Pearl Harbor. It practically equates those camps to Auschwitz. Much to my chagrin, I learned that this vicious screed is one of the most frequently assigned books in middle schools around the country. It is taught, uncritically, with reverence, as proof of what a horrible, racist nation we are. Meanwhile, it’s about an alcoholic whose family suffers domestic violence and other consequences that have NOTHING to do with WWII, but are used to instill an air of rampant discrimination and victimization.
Totally bogus, totally unfair . . . and impossible for those of us who know better to rebut the outlandish claims and falsehoods that teachers are feeding kids through books like this.
The book’s many slams included this one on p. 92: “In addition to the traditionally racist organizations like the American Legion. . . .’’ How’s THAT for Veteran’s Day? Hey veterans, how you do like your tax dollars at work, propagandizing your grandkids and great-grandkids against you, after you risked your life for your country? Niiiiiiice.
I still have the formal ‘’Request for Reconsideration of Educational Materials’’ that I filed on it in 1996, never receiving any response whatsoever from school officials. That hurt . . . and is one of the many reasons we left that district. We were distraught over the politicized curriculum that effectively censored out all the classics of literature and the quality curriculum that we wanted for our kids, and subjected them to this P.C. garbage instead.
Now, eight years later, I’m finally vindicated. I’m rejoicing over nationally-syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin’s new book, ‘’In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling.’’ With mountainous research, this brilliant Filipino writer demolishes all the lies and ‘’spin’’ that educators have been using to make kids believe that the relocation and internment program was horrendous and caused by racial discrimination and hysteria -- ‘’The American Holocaust.’’
Here’s a little of what Ms. Malkin documents, conveniently left out of the ‘’Manzanar’’ book:
-- Of the 112,000 people interned, one-third were foreign nationals – not American citizens. The father of the ‘’Manzanar’’ author, for example, had lived here for 35 years but had never attained citizenship. Most others of Japanese descent who were relocated into the camps, often at their own request, had more recently lived in Japan. But it should be noted that nearly half of the people in the camps were from Germany, Italy and other Axis nations, not just Japan.
-- The internment program began at the behest of Japanese-American civic organizations, not forced upon people by the government. The civic clubs’ members were urged to move to the other 44 states away from the West Coast, but declined. Many camp members, especially wives and children of men who had recently been in Japan, actually volunteered to go there to stay with them.
-- There was ample evidence then, and plenty more now, of disloyalty to the U.S. among these foreign nationals. There also was evidence for the existence of a network of spies and saboteurs among the ethnic Japanese people on the West Coast, many of whom owned boats and posed a threat to harbors and so forth. American officials were painfully aware of how the 30,000 Japanese people living in Davao, Philippines, became turncoats and helped the invading Japanese as scouts and translators. Also, the Japanese military planned to use ethnic Japanese people in Hawaii, part of a spy ring that led to the Pearl Harbor attack, if they had later been able to invade Hawaii. There was no reason to believe that the West Coast wouldn’t have been incredibly vulnerable to such treachery, too. Also note that this was just a few years after the Rape of Nanking, in which Japanese soldiers raped, tortured and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians during their occupation of that eastern Chinese city – three times the casualties of the two atom bombs, by the way. So for West Coast Americans, fear, at that point, was not irrational.
-- Nothing was confiscated; nobody lost any money or property unless they made stupid business dealings on their own, and yet many took the $20,000 resettlement checks, nearly $50 million worth. They included many people who had returned to Japan when the war broke out, repatriated, and fought against us, before returning to the U.S. after the war to reclaim their stuff and their $20,000 resettlement payment. Again, niiiiiiiice.
-- Nobody died in the camps; there was plenty of food, plenty of jobs, Shinto shrines were allowed, and many of the camps weren’t even guarded.
In rereading my notes on ‘’Manzanar,’’ I was struck by the many anti-Christian statements in it. I had complained about them to school officials along with the inaccuracies about the internment. But again, my concerns were ignored:
‘’Papa . . . was always suspicious of organized religions. . . .’’ (p. 30)
‘’In this sense, God and the Sears, Roebuck catalogue were pretty much one and the same in my young mind.’’ (p. 94)
‘’My faith in God and in the Catholic church slipped several notches at that time.’’ (p. 94)
So the book is anti-American, anti-Christian, full of lies and distortions . . . and yet somehow, educators thought it was better than a million other books that might be worth the time of the middle-school English students who only read nine assigned books in two years.
Now, no one, including Michelle Malkin and me, is calling for racial profiling at airports of people who look like the terrorists who caused 9/11, or any kind of a roundup into camps or other perversions of our civil liberties. But this book is instructive indeed for our public debate on national security in the aftermath of 9/11.
This book can and should be used in schools to teach kids the facts about the WWII internment, and help them draw sound conclusions about lessons learned from it to apply to the real world they will soon inherit.
Meanwhile, call your local school, and see if they have ‘’Farewell to Manzanar’’ on the assigned or recommended reading lists for English or history classes, or if it’s in the school library. Then demand they get rid of it, or at the very least provide equal time for the Malkin book . . . equal time for the truth and freedom that so many Americans fought and died to protect.
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