Monday, February 20, 2006

Repost: A brief history of "loyalty" The Japanese American Experience

February 19th, 1942 was the day when executive order 9066 was signed by the then US President, Roosevelt. The actual internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans should, of-course, be remembered. But we must also remember the role of the "ultra loyalists" who colloborated with the internment order. And their role in corrupting Japanese tradition and culture (i.e. they implemented a behavior modification program that was supposed to bring Japanese American in line with the established order).

These colloborators, who presented themselves as "leaders" of Japanese Americans, distanced themselves from all kinds of protest, and civil rights advocacy - and presented themselves as the "good Japanese." We see a similar moves afoot in some sections of the "American Muslim" community.

For those of us who are not going along with such moves - we might have a look back at history, and learn a thing or two...

This attitude of presenting a face of being "200 % American" is nothing new - and I think it is worthwhile to have a brief look at the Japanese American Citizen League - who adopted this approach.

Perhaps this history will sound very familiar to some readers:

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) was formed in 1929, its founder, Jimmie Sakamoto called for the reorganizaton of the old Seattle Progressive Citizens League that was fighting against discrimination:

"instead of worrying about anti- Japanese activity or legislation, we must exert our efforts to building the abilities and charter of the second generation so they will become loyal and useful citizens who, someday, will make their contribution to the greatness of American life."

Fast forward 1941, Mike Mokaso's "JACL creed" as recorded in the US senate:

I am proud that I am an American citizen of Japanese ancestry, for my Very background makes me appreciate more fully the wonderful advantages of this Nation. I believe in her institutions, ideals and traditions; I glory in her heritage; I boast of her history; I trust in her future-

She has granted me liberties and opportunities such as no individual enjoys in this world today. She has given me an education befitting kings. She has entrusted me with the responsibilities of the franchise.

She has permitted me to build a home to earn a livelihood, to worship, think, speak, and act as I please -- as a free man equal to every other man.

Although some individuals may discriminate against me, I shall never become bitter or lose faith, for I know that such persons are not representative of the majority of the American people.

The JACL also cooperated with the FBI in the arrest of Japanese Americans who were deemed to be "subversive." (These days, the operative words are "extremists" "fundamentalists" "Islamist" "jihadists" etc. )

The JACL's ideology reached its logical conclusion in February 1942, when, under the leadership of Mike Masaoka, they pledged "cheerful cooperation" with the government in response to the expulsion order leading to the internment of Japanese Americans:

"We are preparing our people to move out. We want them to go without bitterness, without rancor and with the feeling that this can be their contribution to the defense of the United States."

"Why jeopardize this country or our people by trying to insist on staying, or even by pursuing our legal rights as citizens of this country to context evacuation?" wondered Masaoka.

And the prize for this super expressions of "loyalty" and "patriotism"? The "good Japanese" were given the task of implementing a program to "modify Japanese American behavior."

Sounds familiar? - In substance, this is not at all different from those Muslims who are (witingly or not) following the Rand Report's recomendations to modify Islam. And those "American Muslims" who insist that they are the "good Muslims" who are going to "reform the Muslim world."

Under Masaoka's leadership, JACL leaders advised the War Relocation Authority on how to modify Japanese American behavior inside the camps to create "Better Americans," and offered guidance on how to identify and segregate so-called "agitators and troublemakers." (i.e. "extremists" "fundamentalists" etc. etc. ).

There are many lessons in this history for Muslims - and I'd encourage folks to view this site Conscience and Constitution, The Story of Collaboration. Those of us who are not going to give up our human rights might learn a thing or two from this American history.

Also see the wonderful photographer Ansel Adam's book: Born Free and Equal, that is photographic presentation of internment camps in Manzanar, California.

2 comment(s):

  • Excellent post - describes the "ultra loyalists" very well, and what they are capable off...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/21/2006 09:26:00 AM  

  • Thank you. This is an excellent historical analogy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/22/2006 06:49:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home