Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. March 9, 1943. p. 6



To the Editor:

He who engages in arguments in or with a newspaper loses if he wins and convinces no one not already convinced; nevertheless, I cannot pass over lightly the articles appearing in this paper concerning the Japanese and what we shall do with them.

Anyone who knows me knows that I would not prostitute myself to a cause that is un-American. On the other hand, everyone who knows me knows that my primary interest always has been and is the welfare of our country and community and the protection of our institutions.

With that in mind, I cannot sit silent when misguided but doubtless well-intentioned Americans are advocating the abuse of the democratic process and system of which they and I are so proud and for the defense of which all of us would sacrifice everything. One of your writers wants to know who feels called upon to defend the Japs. In order that he may know the name of at least one defender of the Japs I am addressing you this communication. In doing so I do not defend the Japs as such, but I do defend the Japs in this argument, for by defending the Japs I feel that I am defending a principle we have all accepted at all times as American - that is, that all men are created equal; equal, not in intelligence or ability, but at least politically equal.

This whole Japanese question is without foundation. We seek to exclude all Japs because a few are allegedly disloyal. One of our great English common law judges said "It is better that six guilty men go free than that one innocent man suffer." That is good law, good Christianity and good Americanism.

The Japanese problem cannot be solved in this newspaper; it cannot be solved in Watsonville or California; it cannot be solved in a week or a month. It is a problem which may well wait till the end of the war, at which time an unbiased committee, composed of disinterested members may attack the problem and provide an American solution for it. Thus far, the arguments presented against the Japs have been emotional not based on facts - based on suspicions not on evidence. And of suspicion, Lord Bacon, the great English Chancellor said "Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats among birds, they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed or at least well guarded, for they cloud the mind - they dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy."

Some of your writers are suspicious of the motives of the Japs - sabotage - treason - spying - all the rest of the sins against their country. (I speak of American born Japanese.) The janitress who used to mop the office floors of one of your correspondents - with her husband and son - is now and has been since the evacuation order in Denver, Colorado, roaming free and wide. They have not yet, so far as I know, blown up any bridges or tunnels, wrecked any railroads or poisoned any soldiers. There are now at least 5000 Jap-Americans in the U. S. army - some of them from Watsonville whom I know - not yet have I heard of one of them being tried for treason, insubordination or even being put in the guardhouse for being AWOL. This present pogrom recalls to my mind the days of the late and unlamented depression. One of the solutions submitted by native sons (of which I am one) was to erect an immigration barrier against the Okies, Arkies and Texans - so-called, who in desperation and out of a Christian feeling that they must save their families, desired to come to bountiful California and leave the God-forsaken dust bowl behind.

It reminds me also of the days shortly after the last world war when the Catholics, Jews, and Negroes were by the Ku Klux Klan declared un-American (despite the record to the contrary) and fiery crosses were burned on the hills of America from the Atlantic to the Pacific. At that time, rifles, machine guns, bombs and tanks were supposed to be concealed in the basements of every Catholic church and synagogue in the country; the Pope was to take over in Washington - the Patriarch of Jerusalem probably in Chicago, if the climate agreed with him, and the Sultan of Swat would have his headquartes on Beale Street, Birmingham, Alabama.

One of your correspondents says that we are at war not with the Japanese empire but with the entire Japanese race. I beg to differ with the writer - we are not at war with the race - we are at war with the Japanese nation! There is no Japanese race. Anthropologists tell us that the Japanese (except for a small aboriginal and still uncivilized group) are members of the Indo-Chinese race; and even the aborigines of Japan are by some anthropologists classified as Caucasians. Members of the same group are the Chinese, Malays, Indo-Chinese and some natives of the South Sea islands. Of race prejudice let me quote from a book written by a professor of anthropology at the University of California ". . .the apparently theoretical beliefs held as to race capacity by people who are actually confronted by a race conflict or problem are by no means the outcome of impartial examination and verification, but are the result of the decisions taken and emotions experienced in the course of acts performed toward the other race. The beliefs rest ultimately on impulse and feeling; their reasoned support is a subsequent bolstering up." (In this case there is no reasoning evident even for bolstering purposes.)

This writer further says that when we entertain opinions which we feel it would be "absurd," "obviously unnecessary," "unprofitable" or "undesirable," "bad form" or "wicked" to inquire into - we know that the opinion is not based on reason but on emotion and insufficient evidence. He cites as examples the feeling of the California and Australian to the Mongolian; the Texan to the Mexican and the Southerner to the Negro. Incidentally, until recently, Californians didn't like the Chinese any better than they did the Japanese; witness the Chinese riots in San Francisco late in the last century.

If authorities are to be believed, Japanese are of the same stock as the Chinese - not a separate race. Therefore, if this is not a race war - if objections by your correspondents are on the basis of the color let us know so we can discuss that distinction in the light of American teaching, as it was taught to me and as I understand it. Let it not be told that our yellow citizens can say to us in the words of the Gospel, "For I was hungered and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison and ye visited me not." "Verily" says the Lord in such case. "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

It has been said the Japs cannot be assimilated. Therefore, we should not have them around. Hitler and Mussolini (as well as some Watsonville people with whom I have talked) said the Jews cannot be assimilated. In Poland they are killing them for that reason - perhaps we should do that with the Japs if they cannot be assimilated. Personally, I would rather be killed than to be uprooted and taken from the land of my birth to a country where my only tie was color. For those who believe in deporting the Japs, I recommend they read "Evangeline" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Why do the correspondents stop with the Japs? Let's go to work on the Jews, the Chinese, Hindus, Filipinos, Negroes and all other so-called unassimilable races - the only reason is because for the time being we need them - give us time when we don't need them we will take care of them too.

It has been said that we can't tell the loyal from the disloyal Jap. As the reverend pastors pointed out - treason is not usually committed before an audience. How do you or I know that anybody is loyal? I call your attention to Page "B" San Francisco Call-Bulletin of March 6, 1943 - six persons were defendants in proceedings to take away citizenship for treason - all were white - one was born in Australia, one in Denmark and four in Germany. Not one such proceeding has been filed against a Jap so far as I know. Traitorous white men are a much greater menace than a Jap whom you can spot for a mile. The arguments against the Japs are twice as strong against white persons. The following should be put in camps till after the war and then deported on the same basis as the Japs if you believe the arguments for deportation of Japanese-American citizens:

1. All Germans - for obvious reasons;

2. All Italians - for obvious reasons;

3. All Bulgarians - for obvious reasons;

4. All Austrians - for obvious reasons;

5. All Hungarians - for obvious reasons;

6. All Finns - for obvious reasons;

7. All Rumanians - for obvious reasons;

8. All French because we cannot tell the Vichy from the Free French;

9. All Norwegians because they may be Quislings;

10. All Hindus because they may want to break from England and they may like Mahatma Gandhi;

11. All Jugo-Slavs because they had and have appeasers over there and we don't know one from the other and they are South Europeans;

12. All Spaniards because we don't know whether Franco is a white horse with black stripes or a black horse with white stripes and they are South Europeans;

13. All Portuguese because Portugal has a semi-fascist form of government and they are South Europeans;

14. All Swedes because they are neutral and probably furnish Germany with supplies;

15. All Irish because they are neutral; the German embassy in Dublin is overstaffed, and we can't tell the I.R.A. from the rest of the Irish and a good many are Celts;

16. All Mexicans because we stole California from them in the Mexican war (one of the most unjustifiable in our history) and they may try to get it back. Besides they can't be assimilated.

In conclusion, let me say that in 13 years as deputy district attorney I have had occasion to arrest three Japanese. What other group has a record like that? Ask the Merchants association whether their credit was good. Ask their pastor if they worshiped their God regularly and faithfully. Ask the Red Cross, Community Chest, Chamber of Commerce, Fourth of July celebration, or any other charitable organization if they have not been generous with their money, time and labor. Ask the teachers in our schools whether or not the children saluted the American flag with reverence.

I quote from an article by a former instructor in English at the University of Hawaii in the magazine "Asia" for February, 1943: "The Japanese whether American citizens or aliens, have generally proved themselves so reliable and diligent and loyal that it should not be necessary to penalize them for their ancestry. It is cold fact that there was no sabotage or fifth column activity on Dec. 7 or thereafter and conditions were almost perfect on the morning of Dec. 7 for successful sabotage. All rumors and amazing stories concerning sabotage in Hawaii are lies."

Remember, 37 per cent of the population of the Hawaiian islands is Japanese. They are not even confined - J. P. McEvoy in Readers' Digest for March, 1943.

Remember also - persecute these people for the accident of birth - establish a precedent and the cold heavy hand of persecution and intolerance may one day rest on your shoulder because your name is Smith or Jones - or because you are Protestant or Catholic or Jew - white or Negro - and the persecutors will use this incident as a precedent.

Remember also that a man is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by satisfactory evidence.

Paraphrasing what Shylock said in the "Merchant of Venice":

"Hath not a Jap American eyes? Hath not a Jap American hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a white American? If you stab us down do we not bleed? If you please us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?"

I don't believe in intolerance or bigotry in any form - let's win the war before we talk about its aftermath.

Yours for the American way in practice as well as in lip service.


Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.