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JAPANESE RELOCATION MYTH BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA

Reader comment on item: Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters

Submitted by CAPT James M. Olsen (United States), Jan 2, 2005 at 19:57

Daniel Pipes article, Why the Japanese Internment still matters, 28 December, resonates with us here on Bainbridge Island, Washington, a "blue-blue" affluent enclave west of Seattle, which is the epicenter of the Japanese Internment creation myth. Our local liberal island community has dangerously embraced the revisionist history of WWII Japanese internment credo by developing their piece-de-resistance new 6th grade public school curriculum being taught to 12-year old students that interment was one of the great mistakes of history and World War II. Mind you the relocation camps had no deaths and were by world standards very hospitable accommodations during a war where 100 million went to the cold hard earth as casualties of real mistakes. Also conveniently ignored is any nod to the fact that of the 14 million American soldiers and sailors deployed in World War II for as long as 5 years, 439,000 never returned and countless were injured.

The local Bainbridge Island school board president, Bruce Weiland, when asked weeks ago about his controversial internment curriculum in a LA Times article and again on air with National Public Radio, defiantly exhorted that he would no sooner question his internment curriculum than to defend slavery. The 20-session program presented last year and again planned for this year is set to coincide with Internment Remembrance Day (Feb 19). The crux of the program is that internment was solely the result of unmitigated racism against the Japanese and an a gross example American leadership and citizenry deranged by greed and war hysteria.

My wife and I and other parents and taxpayers challenged the curriculum February 2004 because it was anti-American propaganda and lacked any context about a world at war in 1941. What resulted was a firestorm of local and regional coverage. Rather than teach real history, Bainbridge school district desperately wants to keep alive this revisionist internment history in order to teach our 12 year olds to "feel" what the Japanese felt in FDR's barbed wire concentration camps. When challenged that the camps were not concentration camps and that Japanese Americans residing in the relocations camps could relocate at will provided they stay away from restricted military strategic coastal locations, I am derided as a racist for adding real history to their enshrined myth.

The Bainbridge Island school administration and local Japanese-American leaders have refused to balance their controversial curriculum course with any inconvenient or uncomfortable facts establishing WWII historical context such as the fact the German concentration resulted in 6 million murdered Europeans or the appalling death rates in Japanese run POW camps or Japanese savagery in occupied cities such as Nanking, China with 300,000 civilians butchered in 1937.

It is very important real history on Japanese internment be emphasized or our school districts through special propaganda programs such as our Leaving our Island Japanese internment program or textbook selection will distort history to the point that our students will believe the school administration nonsense that American presidents fighting for liberty and freedom should be derided as racist idiots. The emboldened school administration, not content with distorting WWII history, included other false facts that say the Japanese internment mistake is happening Post 9-11 with purported civil liberties excesses of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and President Bush to the Arabs. Beware of how history is shaped and taught at all levels, but especially to our future leaders.

CAPT James M. Olsen
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

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