Heart Mountain Sentinel, "Our Cards on the Table" (March 11, 1944)
Our Cards on the Table
The American public is entitled to know, despite what reflections might be cast upon us as a race, that selective service in relocation centers is going well regardless of the unfavorable publicity coming upon us from several directions. At some centers small but vociferous groups have been taken into custody by federal officials for failure to respond to their calls for preinduction physical examinations.
This is as it should be.
We hope that the FBI and the office of the U.S. District Attorney will treat any draft evaders at Heart Mountain in the same manner -- and quickly.
At the same time these deluded youths have our deepest sympathy because in most cases they themselves are not entirely guilty for their failure to realize their responsibilities. This situation is due to a number of factors.
Chief among these factors is the influence of some issei. We frankly believe some of our parents are skating on thin ice in their relations with their adopted country and their native Japan. Unfortunately, they prefer to do no ill toward either nation, thus keeping clear their records. After the war, if there is nothing against them in either country there is no reason for their not being able to re-establish relations between the two countries. Anyone thinking that trade relations between the two warring nations will not be restored after the war is denying precedence and reality. Commerce is the basis of peace.
In this picture comes another factor, the only purpose of which is to confuse and distort selective service. This is the so-called Fair Play Committee, which was conceived in the mind of one of the center's most persistent and clever trouble-makers. It would be well for all center youths to remember that this chief agitator and his not-so-clever followers who drew the unsuspecting into a tangle of intrigue during registration were too deceptive to answer honestly the question of loyalty. They, themselves, avoided the difficulties into which they forced others.
That this organization is being investigated is well known throughout the community. We feel assured that this group will soon be broken and dispersed on the solid rooks of reason and law.
Unfortunately, nisei behind the barbed wire fences have only the counsel of their parents and friends in working out their own destinies. Our parents have little to lose but we have much to lose.
The WRA has failed in that it has not provided understanding yet sound advise to center youths who have been withdrawn from normal life and contact with a world at war. Without this counsel nisei youth have been too directly influenced by their parents and a miniscule minority of embittered persons who have lost faith not only in themselves and their futures but in life itself
Some issei have placed their own desires above those of today's youth. They would use pronouncements and pseudo-ultimatums as a means of bargaining for future assurances which are not theirs but the birthright of their children.
The right to urge fuller consideration on the basis of service, if for no other reason, is granted but to connect it in any manner to the call of duty through selective service is unsound and unworthy of a minority that has other reasons for asking recognition of the government.
In our minds there is no issue in the reinstitution of selective service for the nisei. There is only one answer and that is to respond when called.
Too many of us have tried to shine in the reflected valor of members of the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Infantry. Those who have faced death so bravely would openly scoff with resentment at the vicious group that now is bringing criticism on all persons of Japanese ancestry.
Further, we do not believe that because we are of Japanese ancestry that the situation would be any different if the same things were going on in any artificial community, behind barbed wire fences and guard towers, where any minority group might be forced to live. After all, we have not been charged with any subversive activity -- there are no marks against our names.
If there is resentment against our being under conditions that do not vary greatly from those under which prisoners of war and interned nationals of an enemy government live, then blame it upon the Japanese government which is responsible for this long chain of events leading up to our own present situation and upon ourselves for being an aloof, self-sufficient people.
It is useless, needless and evasive to hide these facts from the general public. The facts, sooner or later, will come out of the dark recesses of boiler rooms and latrines where suspicious and frightened people talk in guarded voices. The American public has the right to know that the majority of nisei and their parents believe wholeheartedly in selective service. That we, as a new race in this nation, cannot and must not be judged by a small disgruntled group.
Copyright 2000 Frank Abe and ITVS. All Rights Reserved.