Saturday, December 10, 2005

Malkin on the Japanese internment

Harry Eager posted the following in a comment over at Pharyngula as a response to something I said. I wanted to respond to it, but since my response is long and I thought we had already hijacked that thread sufficiently, I decided to post my response here, along with his entire comment. I hope he doesn't mind.

Harry Eager write:
IN DEFENSE OF INTERNMENT: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror, by Michelle Malkin. 376 pages. Regnery, $27.95.

The dust jacket of Michelle Malkin’s frankly, even offensively provocative "In Defense of Internment" matches photos of two men, Richard Kotoshirodo and Mohammed Atta.
So what did Richard Kotoshirodo, a Nisei chauffeur at the Japanese consulate in Honolulu in 1941, do to be equated to the most notorious mass murderer of the 21st century? Well, nothing.
He drove a Japanese naval officer who was undercover at the consulate as a spy around places like Pearl City, where they counted battleships in Pearl Harbor. From this, and interrogations made by the Internee Hearing Board in 1942, Malkin presents Kotoshirodo as an example of a dangerous, disloyal Japanese-American, thus justifying the
imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans on military security grounds.
Malkin quotes Kotoshirodo as being asked whether he was "100% American" or "100% Japanese." And he replied, "As I recall, I was 100% Japanese."
Malkin conveniently reproduces a photocopy of the original transcript, which shows that Kotoshirodo meant that during the war between Japan and China, he was for Japan.
It’s true enough, as Malkin claims, that many, maybe even most Japanese-Americans had divided loyalties in 1941. It is little to their credit, but they backed Japan's war on China.
However, when the choice came to be between Japan and America, the Japanese-Americans in 1941 were overwhelmingly loyal to America.
It should have been no surprise in 1941 -– and it is a scandal in 2004 not to know it -- that Japanese-Americans felt this way. As early as 1912, in the first issue of the Hawaii Hochi newspaper, publisher Kinzaburo Makino gave this as his goal: "<\q>.<\q>.<\q.> to acquaint (the Nisei) with <\q>.<\q>.<\q.> American government and social systems, not only to enable them to fully utilize their rights and privileges as citizens, but to further develop them into patriotic American citizens <\q>.<\q>.<\q.>
"We shall be fair, but we shall protect the interests of the Japanese."
By the early 1920s, according to the sociologist Harry Kitano, almost every Japantown in the western states had its Loyalty (to the United States) League.
In order to reinforce a point about present-day politics, Malkin, a widely circulated opinion columnist, needs to prove that American authorities in 1942 had a well-founded concern about the likelihood of a Japanese invasion of the western states, or of sabotage by Japanese-Americans living there.
The invasion fear can be easily disposed of. As early as 1934, the leading naval theorist of the time, Adm. Sir Herbert Richmond, had quoted an American assistant secretary of the Navy in 1919 who "had dismissed the possibility (of a naval landing) even if there were no (U.S.) navy."
That was Franklin Roosevelt, the man who signed Executive Order 9066 that drove Japanese-Americans citizens out of their homes in 1942.
But about a third of the Japanese-Americans sent to concentration camps were not citizens, and Malkin makes much of the fact that enemy aliens could, according to ancient law, be interned, arrested or imprisoned in time of war.
That’s true, but Malkin, who freely accuses her critics of intellectual dishonesty, dishonestly ignores the fact that Issei (immigrants from Japan) were forbidden to become naturalized citizens. Malkin mentions this, just barely, but never bothers to analyze what it means. It is enough for her purposes to label them, accurately, as enemy aliens and let it go at that.
No doubt many would have become American citizens if they had been allowed to, if only to get around the racist California laws that prevented them from owning real estate.
The sabotage scare can be as completely dismissed, since the roundup did not get well under way until the war was six months old; and by that time there still had not been any sabotage reported.
Malkin pins her greatest faith on intercepted Japanese coded cables ("MAGIC"), many of which she also conveniently reproduces, to prove the existence of active Japanese spies in America. So there were, many of them serving officers in the Imperial Navy, but the decrypts do not, as she pretends, prove that there were many –- or any -- Issei or Nisei spies helping them.
Malkin has made a prosecutor’s case, a weak one further weakened by misrepresentation, misinterpretation and omissions. A historian would have used more evidence and reached a different verdict.
It’s unfortunate that Malkin chose such an approach, because her main point is worth discussing: whether Islamic terrorism should be combated as a matter for the police or as all-out war.
Malkin favors war, as opposed to "civil liberties purists" who contend that, "Not only must suspected terrorists be charged with a crime, <\q>.<\q>.<\q.> but the crime they are charged with must be related to terrorism."
Hers is a sensible position, and her pro-police antagonists are on shaky ground when they equate Guantanamo Bay cells for fighters with barbed-wire villages for farmers in the California desert. The correct response from Malkin should have been to ridicule their confusion, not to pervert history.
Would profiling be helpful in a war against Islam?
The religion claims to be a universalizing one, but it is a fact that it is largely local, restricted for the most part to citizens of 49 nations, who share a few languages, and many customs such as dress, food and rituals, which are almost completely absent among their target, the infidels.
The Islamists have no problem profiling their enemies.
First, Malkin didn't use Kotoshirodo as "an example of a dangerous, disloyal Japanese-American", she used him as an example of how the justice system was inadequate to deal with espionage. Kotoshirodo didn't just drive someone around, he went around himself, taking pictures of and recording details of Naval operation. He admitted that he knew or suspected that he was gathering information to aid a Japanese attack. Charges were brought against him and either they were dismissed or he was found not guilty (I don't recall which) on the grounds that he had not done anything illegal; he only wrote down and photographed public events. Actually, this incident showed two things, that our justice system could not protect us from Japanese spies and that American racism, even after Pearl Harbor, was mild enough that they would release a Japanese guy who had aided in the Pearl Harbor attack.

As to your statement that "when the choice came to be between Japan and America, the Japanese-Americans in 1941 were overwhelmingly loyal to America", Malkin provides a lot of evidence that this is not the case. You can disagree, but you can't just say so and expect us to take your word for it; you have to counter her evidence. For example, you quoted a newspaper to support your view, but you didn't mention the newspapers that Malkin quoted: the Japanese-language papers that supported Japan even after Pearl Harbor. And if almost every Japantown had it's loyalty league, almost every one also had its Japanese school where they taught Emperor-worship as part of their religion. One thing that we have all forgotten, and that Malkin tried to remind us, is that the Japanese religion demanded that they be loyal to Japan (or, more specifically, the emperor).

I don't think that Malkin made any distinction between citizens and non-citizens in her discussion of historical internments, so she had no reason to bring up the fact that Japanese were not allowed to become citizens.

I think it would have been enormously reckless to just "dismiss" the sabotage scare, just because nothing serious happened in the first six months. Sabotage plans can take years to mature and for all we know, the internment could have prevented a planned attack that would have set the war effort back by years. It's pretty easy to sit here six decades after we know how things turned out and second guess their decisions. Back then, they were in severe danger and they had a right to take severe steps to protect themselves.

Finally, I don't think Malkin ever claimed that the MAGIC cables proved that all the Japanese were loyal to Japan. What they proved is that Japan fully expected the Japanese in America, both citizen and Nisei, to rise up and support Japan in any way they could. Surely if the enemy believed it, then it was wise for us to take it seriously. And if it was racist for Americans to believe that, what was it for the Japanese?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ink Magic continued


Ink Magic (part 6)

A cab took me from the airport directly to a friend's house. I explained the problem I was having --in very general terms-- and my friend gave me a little love in the form of a 22-caliber Gatling gun that he had built himself. It was a sweet piece of hardware; hand-cranked, but it would pop out .22 LR bullets at over a thousand rounds per minute. And of course there was the highly illegal spring-loaded cranker which I kept in a separate pocket in case something happened and I got picked up by the cops. The last thing I needed right now was to be stuck unarmed in a jail cell.

The gun was big enough that I needed to wear my trench coat to conceal it, but as luck would have it, I look awesome in a trench coat.

Another cab dropped me off right in front of the tattoo parlor, wearing my coolest black trench coat with Gatling gun strapped underneath. The tattoo guy was sitting out front but he gave no sign that he remembered me.

"Hey, thanks for sic'ing that hoodoo on me." I said.

"You're welcome." he answered without looking up.

"That thing wouldn't have attacked me if you hadn't given me the tattoo." I continued.

"I know." he shrugged.

"You know?! You know?! Then why did you give me the tattoo?"

"Thought you'd want to know about the hoodoo."

"Well ... OK, I did."

"Come inside and give me a look at her. See how she doin'."

The old man walked inside and I followed. He motioned at me impatiently and I opened the shirt for him to take a look at the tattoo."

He grinned. "I see she been out to play already. How do you like her?"

"We didn't have a chance to get acquainted," I answered shortly, buttoning my shirt back up. "We were both kind of busy."

"I figure." the old man barked out a harsh laugh. "How does a thousand dollars sound?"

I stared at the old man for a moment and then without a word I took out my checkbook and starting writing him a check. As I was writing I told him, "I ran into that hoodoo twice."

"You run into it? I don't think so."

I looked up in surprise, "Why do you think the cat came out? The hoodoo was big, about the size of a small couch. Black. With tentacles that it could shoot out."

"Humph." the old man gave me a derisive snort. "Solid black like the cat? Hard to see?"


"That weren't no hoodoo, it were a sending, jes like the cat."

"A sending?"

"The hoodoo is in Hell, it couldn't come its own self so it inflicted the sending on you."


"Yes, Hell, boy. Don't you believe in Hell?"

"Well, what if I don't? If the hoodoo is in Hell, how is it following me?"

"Hell is all around us, boy. There's demons walking the same streets we walk but we can't see 'em or touch 'em. And they can't touch us either."

"It's like another world, sharing the same space as ours?"

"No! This is the World. That other place is Hell."

I bent back to the check for a moment, finished it and carefully tore it out. "So they can't touch us but they can send these ... sendings."


"OK." I wondered if the old man really did know something about the other world that my father had discovered, or if this was just some sort of magical mumbo jumbo. "I killed that sending with a nail gun," I told the old man.

He laughed at me. "Sendings ain't so easy to kill, boy, you just squeezed it out of the World and sent it back to Limbo."

"Limbo? You mean Hell?"

"No! If I meant Hell I would have said Hell!" Sendings come from Limbo. Limbo is like Hell, surrounding us, but there's no demons there." The old man held out his arm which was covered in tattoos. A beautiful black and green serpent tattoo wound about his forearm. As I watched, the serpent began to writhe and expand, its colors darkening, until it was a black-mercury rope circling the old man's arm.

The thing crawled snake-like down to his hand and then dropped on the floor where the old man put a foot on it. His foot only covered about half of the serpent, so I was able to see as he put pressure on it how the snake suddenly vanished, just like the monster had done.

I looked up in amazement. "Do all of your tattoos do that?" I asked.

"No, different tattoos, different magics," the man said. "But did you see how when I stepped down it kind of squirted away?"

"No. It just vanished."

"Well, it vanished because there weren't room in the World for it any more. If you had the Sight, you could see how it never really was in the world. It was kind of just poking into the world from Limbo like when you poke your finger into a balloon. I stepped on it and sort of pushed it out of the balloon."

I dropped down on an old folding chair. It creaked ominously under my weight but I was too distracted to notice. "I killed my sending with a nail gun. I put forty nails into it. That's not like stepping on something."

"Sure it is." he assured me. "You just got to put enough world stuff into the space where the specter is that it can't be there any more. You can do it pushing hard on a big space or by pushing a pointed thing deep into it. Or, I guess, pushing lots of little pointy things into it."

"So the hoodoo that's after me, he can see me from Hell when he's nearby in space?"

"Ayup," the old man said. Then he gestured at a place to my left, "Bugger's right over thar."

With an effort I resisted looking over my shoulder. "He's watching me right now?"


Now I looked over my shoulder. Of course I saw nothing. I was beginning to wish that I had never come to talk to the old man.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

they got what they had coming

The California Republican leadership is upset that Schwarzenegger has betrayed the party. All I can say is that they got what they had coming. They rallied behind a man with no political background, with almost no identifiably Republican principles, and with no qualifications for the office of governor, just because he had star power and he could get elected. To them having an "R" in the governor's column trumped principle.

They betrayed Tom McClintock, a real Republican with real principles who has put decades into serving California, by throwing their support behind a man whose loyalty was a matter of pure guesswork. And now the man who they betrayed McClintock for is betraying them.

What did they expect?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

get a picture

Professor Paul Mirecki of Kansas University has reported that he was beat up for his views about religious "fundies". Michelle Malkin raises some serious doubts about his story.

Can anyone there at Kansas get a picture of the guy's face? If he was really beat up, there should be obvious signs on his face. If not, then he is almost certainly lying.

the free fall research page

Here is a cool web site about people who have survived long falls --thousands-of-feet-long falls.

Thanks to waka waka waka for the link.


I was just showing my blog to young lady named Shreya and she thought she saw her name on it as I was scrolling by. She seemed a little disappointed that it was really a reference to Sheya and not Shreya.

Sorry, Shreya. I expect that one day I'll mention you on the blog. Just keep reading.

What is it with women's names anyway? I now know a Sheya, a Shreya, a Sheena, a Shawna, a Sia, and a Sarika. Whatever happened to, like Beth and Jane?

UPDATE: I had an attack of good sense and decided that I should qualify the above by noting that I think those are all lovely, feminine names. I'm just annoyed because I have a bad memory for names and it's hard to keep them all straight.

My poor father wasn't much older than me when he started "going through the names". You know, there were three boys: Dave, Bob, and Ed. Dad would be calling Ed and go "Dave ... Bob ... Coky ... Ed."

Coky was the dog.

Those names have nothing in common and the old man had trouble with them anyway, so what chance do I have with Sheya, Shreya, and Sarika?

And why don't chicks want cool names like "Doc Rampage"?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

what are the law schools really up to?

The Solomon Amendment is being argued in the Supreme Court. This law says a school that does not allow military recruiters on campus cannot receive federal funds. Some law schools refuse to admit military recruiters to their campuses on the grounds that the military discriminates against gays. These law schools are challenging the Solomon Amendment on free speech grounds.

But the current policy on gays in the military is a presidential directive handed down by President Clinton. It isn't a military policy; it is a policy of the federal government. Yes, the policy is only applied in the military but it isn't the Pentagon that made the discriminatory policy.

What if there were some corporation that did not discriminate against gays in most of the company, but had a policy that gays could not work in its security branch? Can anyone imagine that the law professors would only ban the company's security services from recruiting on campus?

Clearly this is silly. If a company had a policy that only discriminated against gays in one branch of the company, the law schools would ban the entire company from recruiting on campus --especially if that policy came from the CEO of the company. So on what basis do they ban the military from recruiting on campus, but not other branches of the federal government?

This banning of military recruiters is not really what it claims to be: a response to discrimination. It is in reality a thinly disguised anti-military policy.

Monday, December 05, 2005


The Storyblogging Carnival is up over at Tales by Sheya.

I have three sections of "Ink Magic" in the Carnival and was planning to get the fourh done on Saturday but I didn't make it. I was forced to spend the weekend killing Nazis in "Call of Duty 2".

I really hate those guys.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

more on Chistmas music

I just saw a Honda commercial. They had a Chistmasy themes with some carolers singing "We Wish You a Happy Holiday". Doesn't sound familiar? That's because it's just new words to "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

I'm thinking about writing a letter to Honda suggesting that if they are ashamed to have their company associated with Christmas, why don't they just leave it out of their commercials entirely?

UPDATE: a commenter says I got the words wrong; that they were really singing "Hondaday" rather than "Holiday". If so, this would be an instance of a less distressing class of religious offenses.

O Holy Night

I was just in McDonald's having lunch (I know, I know) when I heard some woman singing "O Holy Night". It kind of surprised me because you don't often hear religious Christmas carols in the public square any more. The woman was a talented singer, but she just didn't have the pipes for that song.

"O Holy Night" is one of the all-time great solo songs for someone with a really powerful voice. That surging crescendo will shake you to your bones when it is done right. But the melody is too slow and simple to work on its own; it really needs that crescendo. A soloist without the vocal power, even a good one with an interesting voice, should stay away from this song. As a congregational song it can be downright grating.

Another great song for a powerful voice is "It Is Well with My Soul". The crescendo in that song can wring your heart.