Page 16 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • August 26, 2009 whom he characterized as above average in education and below average in income; and ultra-nationalists, foreignborn, ignorant of English and of American culture and members of groups like the kokuryukai, the Black Dragon Society. (The Black Dragon Society had an office in Los Angeles in those days.) Most Japanese were strongly anticommunist and the Japanese-Americans resented being ordered around by ultra-nationalists. Both groups were denounced routinely to the Office of Naval Intelligence and the FBI by loyal Japanese-Americans and by Koreans who hated Japanese militarism and resented recruiting efforts. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the ONI and the FBI swooped. In a few days, 2,192 Japanese had been arrested in the United States and another 879 in Hawaii. As far as Hoover and the Navy were concerned, the problem was taken care of. The real Japanese militants were all behind barbed wire and the vast majority of Japanese-Americans, especially those who were born here, posed no threat to anybody and could be left alone. This was not to be. California politicians, one of whom was Earl Warren, urged the entire Japanese-American population of the West Coast be rounded up and “evacuated.” Good old Doctor Seuss, Theodore Geissel, a stooge for the ultra-liberal Ralph Ingersoll, drew cartoons of JapaneseAmericans receiving explosives for sabotage, which never happened. On Feb. 18, 1942, weeks after Hoover and the ONI had all the dangerous Japanese behind barbed wire, Franklin Delano Roosevelt established military zones with martial law on the West Coast. On March 18, 1942, FDR signed Executive Order 9102, establishing the War Relocation Authority. By June 7, most of the remaining 112,000 Japanese-Americans on the West Coast – people whose loyalty had already been vouchsafed by the ONI and the FBI – had joined the 3,000 commies and the ultra-nationalists behind barbed wire because of their race. The author who says this was not such a bad thing needs to look at the bigger picture. The government arrested Fritz Kuhn, leader of the German-American Bund, and a handful of Nazi and Italian Fascist wannabes; they didn’t arrest the entire populations. If the government had deported all members of these other two Axis-matrix groups, it would have crippled the war effort. There were more GermanAmericans than any other kind of Americans, and the Italians contributed a large number of soldiers and war workers. The government understood this, because in Hawaii, where the Japanese made up a majority of the labor force and professional support groups, there was no relocation. Hawaii was so menaced by a Japanese invasion before the Battle of Midway that the government stamped all the money there “Hawaii” so the Japanese could not re-use it if they ever got to California. Yet there was no relocation in Hawaii, where an invasion was plausible, while there was a comprehensive relocation in California, where an invasion was preposterous by June 7. The Japanese fleet had already been defeated at the Coral Sea and Midway and American war production was booming. Relocation, supposedly a defense measure, was, plain and simple, a rip-off. White Americans who had always resented Japanese and other Asian labor competition threw the Japanese-Americans out of their farms, shops, restaurants, and service stations, and many people made no bones about not wanting them back once the war was over. Many a contemporary Nazi stepped into a bureaucratic or professional job when his Jewish predecessor was told to take $200 and leave the country. The operating principle, minus the mass murders, is about the same: Throw out people who are “different” than you are, and possibly also smarter or more diligent than you are, and capitalize on their prior success. The 10 relocation centers were not “death camps” – they were concentration camps, where the handful of deaths (minus a few willful shootings) were incidental. Seven people died of heat prostration in one day at Poston, Arizona, and the survivors thought it was deliberate. American relocation did not turn into Nazi-style genocide for two reasons: Most Americans were still tangentially Christians in the 1940s rather than avidly Darwinian or neopagan and would have objected to killing large numbers of women and children, just as Easterners had objected to the proposed extermination of the American Indians a half-century before; and America’s food supply was never threatened as Germany’s was. Many thousands of World War I German civilians starved to death and millions of World War II civilians suffered malnutrition while Nazi bigwigs got fat and stole art treasures. We didn’t spare these people because of the Constitution – FDR forgot there was a Constitution. What he may not have forgotten was that a couple of his brain transplants in the Treasury Department helped goad the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor while he was either asleep at the switch or frothing for another war with Germany that the American public didn’t want. The Japanese-Americans were convenient scapegoats for the catastrophes of Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines, where a lot of the people we tried to protect took the day off and went home. They left American boys holding the bag. That seems to happen to us a lot when we stray out of our own hemisphere and listen to people who flatter us and take our money. Go figure. I recently encountered news about a book that says Japanese-American relocation during World War II was no big deal and we should not feel sorry it happened. That is certainly going to be news in the JapaneseAmerican community, and it might come as a surprise to the United States government, which finally admitted it had done the wrong thing and paid the surviving claimants $20,000 each. Depending on the value of property they had to sell in a hurry, this probably represents about 10 cents on the dollar for what they lost in 1942. This would have been news to Senator Robert Taft and J. Edgar Hoover, who opposed relocation from its inception. (Taft called it the sloppiest criminal law he had ever heard of.) This also would have been news to Attorney General Nicholas Biddle and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who tried to liberalize release policies to allow people of undoubted loyalty to return home. Most of all, it would be news to the 33,000 Japanese-Americans who fought for the United States against Nazi Germany in Italy and Southern France or who served as combat interpreters against Japan in the Pacific. The Japanese-Americans were the most decorated of any ethnic group in the United States Army. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team had about 3,000 men. Just a few years ago, the United States reviewed citations for members of ethnic groups who had been passed over for the Congressional Medal of Honor due to racism among officers. Jewish and Mexican GIs received six or seven medals per group based on an objective analysis. The JapaneseAmericans, fewer in number than either of the other two groups, received 17 Congressional Medals of Honor. What happened? During the 20th century, the United States was under pressure from West Coast labor unions, and attempted to restrict the immigration of Japanese to the United States, first with the Gentleman’s Agreement, which meant Japan would discourage emigration, but the United States would not ban immigration, later with the Immigration Act of 1924, which established a quota of 100 immigrants from China – wise guys used to say of an unlucky attempt at something, “He hasn’t got a Chinaman’s chance” – and another 100 from the Japanese Empire, which also included the Koreans and the Chinese of Taiwan. Japanese continued to enter the United States, not always legally, and by 1941, there were 117,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast, while the Japanese were the single largest ethnic group in Hawaii, and still are. Despite some verbal jousting with the Chinese and the Koreans, the Japanese-American population was largely distinguished for hard work, law-abiding behavior, and successful adaptation to the United States. Many Japanese-Americans became Christians and almost all of them seemed to cherish education and enjoy baseball and judo. Exceptions existed. Togo Tanaka, a Japanese-American journalist of the 1940s whom I interviewed for a book now in the works, said that 95 percent of the Japanese-American community was loyal to the United States. The remaining five percent, Tanaka said, was bifurcated into aka, Reds, Reconsidering relocation: Who needs the Constitution? Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: As a Mahwah resident, I have followed the Pilot’s proposal to build a new service station on Route 17 very closely. I’ve listened to both sides of the issue and can’t see anything but positive news coming out of the fact that Pilot is proposing the removal of an old, overcrowded truck stop with a new service station and convenience store. The property needs to be updated and Pilot is trying to do just that. The project will improve the environment, reduce the amount of trucks that use the station, eliminate the driveway on Ridge Road, and make the property look much better than it does now. It is also important to remember that Pilot wants to completely separate its property from the school property with fencing and landscaping. That sounds like an improvement to our community to me. August Sodora Jr. Mahwah Dear Editor: This spring, the National Association of Letter Carriers held its annual largest one day food drive. This year, we collected a record 73.4 million pounds of food. This marked the sixth consecutive year in which over 70 million pounds of food was collected. The Letter Carriers of Northern New Jersey would like to thank everyone who made a donation this year. Your donations allow local food banks and pantries to supply much needed food to families during these tough economic times. Letter carriers are looking ahead to next year’s drive, which will be the Saturday before Mother’s Day. John E. Dock Mahwah Views project as an improvement Letter carriers are grateful Welcome aboard Jay Dolas, a junior at Ramsey High School, was recently appointed to the Ramsey Rescue Squad by Mayor Christopher Botta.