CSPAN H.R. 442 11/06/20

This hearing reviewing bill H.R. 442, discussing the wartime relocation centers and their suggestions for following redress. The portion of H.R. 442 is evaluating if remedies, suggested by the commission, should be put through. In addition, the Aleuts are considered with the Japanese in this legislation towards redress. 

            The previous exclusion was done for the purpose of national security, and the internment camps were used to contain suspected lack of loyalty. We now can review the internment to be on the basis of war hysteria and prejudice (5:30). The internment was previously held to be invalid and unconstitutional in federal court. The controversial evacuation also deemed unconstitutional contributed to personal suffering for internees, and this is why remedial measures are called for. 

            The specific requests demanded include a trust fund for the Japanese American communities, a payment of $20,000 to every living internee, and variances of remembrances. I found it admirable a front-line congressman recapped the facts from the incident, even the shameful and object circumstances of the incident. It was strong of him, Mineta, to start out surprised restoring the rights and honor of the Japanese is long overdue and should have been unanimously passed before. This politician even gives a powerful testimony of experience in internment camps himself, spoke on the loss of his constitutional rights under the suspicion he was a threat. 

            I found it especially powerful at 15:35, when the congressman, addressing the concerns over the huge financial handouts, first established his credibility to understand those concerns, but proceeds with advocating for the lump payments as they are a fraction of what was lost by the Japanese community in the internment and evacuation. Although there were unsavable economic losses, the payment in the redress is a step to at least sacrifice some for the grave social losses as well.

            The second congressman of Asian descent (can’t spell it, but it’s like Metzoui) sat at about 26 minutes. He starts by emphasizes not just the vast support for the bill throughout congress, but such diverse support, indicating the widespread agreeance makes this issue important. When he started crying giving his family history, proving his American citizenship being stripped and constricted in internment camps at 30:00, it really made my heart feel his pain! He was so passionate speaking about all the success, accomplishments, and loyalty his family and parents established in their community before internment. I found it disgusting when neighbors knocked on the doors of their Japanese neighbors, like his parents, underselling such valuable home items, amenities, machinery, as well as the business assets for nothing. I felt the disheartening injustice when he was taken, his family was taken from everything they own just because of their ancestry suddenly. No hearing, no cause for detainment, or charge, just white supremacy, supported by columns of pure racist, negative, enemy-like sentiment against Japanese. He describes how even after reintegration of the Japanese into society, the sense and accusation of their disloyalty has remained with them throughout their lives, throughout their socialization, since the war and internment experiences. Then, when the government later admitted they were actually loyal and the government simply used that accusation as a mask to justify their racist decision, isolating Japanese Americans without due process. I was so heart-struck when he asked for fundamental free speech, presumption of innocence, foundational amendments and I thought it was extremely clever when he called for action from the board as it was “a unique opportunity” for them to uphold and redeliver justice. 

            “Why $20,000 then?” This congressman did also address, like Mineta, the $20,000 is necessary to make up for the much greater economic losses, social and political injustice, and redressing through compensation is traditional and should be respected. Compensation backs up priorities, and the fundamental rights of Japanese call for compensation to be shown important. “Why are you so different… why shouldn’t you suffer during war?” Well, these congressmen, as young children, do not take responsibility of war, and the Japanese did not get a due fight for dignity from the country. His beginning with discussion-based questions felt very effective in prompting considerations, potentially controversial, from the chairmen. 

            The third speaker, Mike, a white man, responsible for proposing redress partly, he defended the legislation by pointing out ancestry should not have been a driver of internment. He notes his German neighbors did not experience the racism the Japanese did, and expresses his anger anyone experienced that at all. 

            The next speaker, a black congressman from California, recognizes efforts in every branch and level of government to try to deliver justice to the Japanese, nearly 50 years later. He describes H.R. 442 as a debt of education, a debt, uniquely mentioned, of psychological damages, along with social damages, political damages, and debts on fundamental rights. He also notes the amazing sacrifice of Japanese, serving our military, despite the government’s horrible segregation of their race, proving their loyalty largely.

            Mr. Stratton, a white man, actually opposed the legislation. He reduces the legislation and describes the reaction of internment was justified after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He describes Roosevelt would have never intentionally undermined the Constitution, as others who have supported the legislation, have accused him to have done in his approval and signaling to begin containing Japanese Americans. He describes Roosevelt’s actions as a security measure and upholds the legislation with the roots of upholding Roosevelt’s character, justifying his judgement in this decision. In addition, I felt that he was very rude in undermining the Japanese American congressmen, exclaiming their experiences are skewed and suffered in maintaining clarity over the years, so he is discrediting their testimonies. He continues to maintain the belief, which he proposes as an obvious, objective statement, there were most certainly double agent Japanese spies on the West Coast and in Hawaii. He defends military strategy, expecting a Japanese invasion of Hawaii and West Coast to be imminent, and after Pearl Harbor, when all the defenses were down, he justifies removal of Japanese from the West Coast. Even though he agrees not all the Japanese were guilty, he exclaims the likelihood to contribute to the attacks and welcoming an invasion on the West Coast were were high, and he found it reasonable to constrain the Japanese Americans for these reasons. He defends the internment reaction of the attack, he explains in the state of shock in history, there was a traumatizing and urgent call for action, and internment was a product of preparing for future attacks and anticipating such. He does not believe it was fair for many members of the Congress, distant and absent for the experience of Japanese internment and evacuated from the West Coast, to judge the situation. In addition, he feels looking back, it is easy to paint actions and uncalled for and maleficent, but the intentions were nonetheless out of urgent concern and with intentions of protecting the safety of the nation. He does not believe monetary inflation that would be caused by payment is necessary and finds giving reparations to the Japanese would undermine the sacrifices of others and “our own people,” I suppose referring to non-Japanese Americans, efforts in World War two would be demeaned because they would not get reparations as well. He is willing to apologize and recognize the Japanese internees’ specific hardships, and calls for remembrances through museums, but he opposes the monetary payment. 

            Congressman Lungren testified next. He reviews his precedent support for individual reparations before, but he dissents on reparations for the Japanese. He explains he was unaware and unknowledgeable of the internment and containment of Japanese in his area. He sets a preface that many other Americans of his generation are/were unaware as well. He reviews his previous association that monetary reparations were never intended when the bill was previously proposed and quotes a member of the previous commission that he would not have launched the commission if reparations were foundational. He expresses how he is offended their efforts to redress would only be validated with reparations now by Japanese Americans. His tones express anger than all of his efforts, or contributions on the commission previously, in redress would be undermined if reparations of money were not involved. He does certainly empathize with the Japanese community that they deserve redress, a formal apology, and more, as well as recognizes the multileveled wronging by the government to Japanese Americans in the United States, but also recognizes it was an unsurprisingly, understandable move by the government, in urgent, desperate hysteria, to intern the Japanese. 

Like Stratton, he sympathizes wrong decisions often come out of war, and also contradicts his opinions the internment was wrong by identifying the actions as not just justified, but seemingly necessary to Roosevelt and the government at the time. Like Stratton, he agrees their modern reflection on past actions and defends Roosevelt’s intention to not be based on racial prejudice, but towards security and with general good intentions. “In retrospect they were wrong, but I think we have to focus on what President Roosevelt had in front of him” (1:24:04). Lungren and Stratton’s opinions on the matter, their criticizing of judging on a past issue while excluding a past perspective and considering that as equal as the knowledge and awareness of the interest we have today is unfair as generalizing the actions to be a simple as race prejudice, motivating such complex mistakes of the past, and ultimately out of context. He calls for research and scholarship in history to take this internment, destruction of an entire community’s life as a learning opportunity. He believes the claims paid, social security for Japanese Americans, civil service retirement provisions, proclamation orders delivered with apologies, the planned exhibitions as remembrances, are presented to be enough in the efforts of redress. Instead of reparations, he argues greater education and remembrances, recognition of this ugly part of history, a legislative apology, along with expanded scholarship and research are more appropriate to show genuine remorse beyond monetary payment. 

He also criticizes if we give reparations to Japanese, any other groups, who believe they were marginalized, will have to be reviewed with the consideration of reparations to sincerely right wrongs, carrying huge social and economic deficit implications. In addition, he does understandably claim no price can cover the losses of the Japanese in this historical era, so why are we trying to add a price tag to absent justice and freedom at all? These criticisms were especially powerful to me and I was able to understand his latter points; however, I’m afraid they were supported largely by his unchecked white privilege. 

The next congressman, of Asian descent, describes Stratton as misguided. Burn! This congressman recognizes Japanese internment to be titled one of the worst wartime mistakes in history, emphasizing redress extent should not be considered lightly at all. He does recognize the silliness of the internment is a matter of hindsight, but pointed out even a FBI leader, who investigated and concluded there were absolutely no cases of sabotage, despite rumors, by Japanese Americans opposed evacuation of those of Japanese descent. Sadly enough, the government dismissed his findings. Hoover actually treated with Japanese citizens of the enemy much more graciously but failed to extend that light-hearted treatment to actual American citizens of Japanese descent. All of the above equally enraged me. Double standards and a power dynamic of inequality are demonstrated here. 

He applied his personal accounts, his father’s experience, that he vowed his loyalty to his country of adoption. He was angered these virtues were undermined by the government, failing to extend naturalization which was much overdue. In addition, he used his own personal account, serving the United States military, his honor and ability to serve in the government was stripped of him among internment. He was not allowed to serve our military anymore, and even though his commander disagreed he was not in a loyal position to, he was personally angry he was stripped of the opportunity to prove their loyalty 1. At all, but 2. On the battlegrounds! A horrible account of innocent, elderly men was shot dead In the internment camps. Even after all this horrible treatment and containment, he applauds the 442nd regime, its volunteers persisting beyond their watered-down life capacities, for fighting to be the most highly decorated, fought not just to fight, but to prove their loyalty for all of their Japanese community. In addition, he accounts his freedom and ability to represent his country in the Senate now, are due to his ability to prove his loyalty via military servitude. This was so powerful to me because although the opportunity to serve was beyond an insane ask by the American government for the Japanese individuals who they had demeaned so deeply in containment, put through so much, their sparse representation in the war seemed like the only avenue to prove loyalty. Even after it was successful, the fact this window to prove loyalty, the opportunity was so limited and absurd in the context, contributes to the shame of the position Japanese Americans faced, caged with racist sentiment and isolated from an opportunity to live life with justice for the most part. 

One thought on “CSPAN H.R. 442 11/06/20

  1. I thought your summary of these hearings was exceptional. You’re right, it was challenging to sit through all this discussion over reparations when it was so obviously the right move to make. Perhaps I don’t understand the value of 1980s money all that well, but I truly don’t think $20,000 per person is that much to ask for considering all that the Japanese-Americans went through. You’re also right about congressmen Lungren and Stratton’s point about Roosevelt’s “not knowing any better” being meaningless today. Like, “okay?” That’s why they’re discussing this decades after the fact. The same point goes for your comment about “being afraid of setting a precedent for other groups to ask for financial compensation” being asinine, too. Again, why would that have been a bad thing? Shouldn’t we want persecuted peoples to be compensated for the U.S. government’s admitted wrongdoings?

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