People need to voice their opposition to quotation

People need to voice their opposition to quotation A concern that all of us should be aware of has come to my attention, and my former professor and mentor, Dr. Donald Teruo Hata, Jr., has asked me to help get the word out to resolve the controversy involving a Japanese American memorial planned on the Washington Mall in Washington, D.C.

This memorial to the Japanese American experience during World War II contains a highly controversial quotation as well as a number of inaccuracies that have caused a grassroots debate in the JA community. Many people are voicing their opposition to the memorial as it now reads, including a critical mass of academic experts, in addition to a diverse group of supporters, and hopefully some of the Garden Island Newspaper readers will too make their support known.

Too few Americans, including many Nikkei, know that the 10 WRA (War Relocation Authority) camps were only one part of the sinister and expansive GULAG of other isolation camps and special detention camps administered by the INS and the Army. The latter are not included or inaccurately described in the draft of inscriptions approved by the National Park Service (NPS)—which has jurisdiction over the memorial site in Washington, DC. And what about NPS?

Research into the matter revealed that the private foundation created to raise funds for the memorial had collected more than $11 MILLION DOLLARS from some 20,000 large and small donors across the nation. Many donors were making their first-ever contributions to any Nikkei-related cause, because they felt guilty for not having gotten actively involved earlier, in the Coram Nobis court cases or the Nikkei Redress Movement that eventually secured an official presidential apology and a one-time tax-free cash payment of $20,000 to survivors.

The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF) board of directors had broken faith with all the donors, by not acting in accord with their own bylaws and rules of procedure, and arbitrarily favoring certain names while omitting key facts and substantial themes that fully and accurately depict the many forms of courage and loyalty exhibited by Nikkei during the horrible wartime experience.

Although few college texts or courses on U.S. History mention it, more and more scholars and students know now that the “resisters of conscience” at Heart Mountain concentration camp were NOT disloyal cowards, as they were denounced by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Few if any texts mention that, after failing to make the resisters cooperate, JACL recommended to the administration that the resisters be placed in solitary confinement to break their spirit; rarely is it told that the resisters publicly proclaimed their readiness to fight for the U.S. but not while their families were deprived of their basic rights and imprisoned without due process.

A resolution to the Department of Interior which oversees the planned monument is now circulating. I urge you to check out a web site, www.JAvoice.com, that has both information on the issue and the resolution. You can sign it at the site. JAvoice.com submitted 707 signatures to Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt on June 22, 2000, calling for a review of the Japanese American memorial. The controversy to date is important yet; the Park Service made clear that it has not approved the final version. This is not an issue that concerns Japanese Americans ONLY.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) has said that all names and quotes, aside from presidential ones, should be removed from the memorial to resolve the controversy. JAvoice.com backs Sen. Inouye’s position and has written him a letter of support. To read the letter visit: http://www.javoice.com/inouye.html. To read an article in the Honolulu Star

Bulletin on Sen. Inouye’s position, visit: http://starbulletin.com/2000/06/01/news/story10.html

Eliza Linser, Lihu’e

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