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Conscience and the Constitution

"Let Us Not Be Rash" (February 28, 1944)

Rocky Shimpo
February 28, 1944

Nisei America: Know the Facts

by Jimmie Omura

Let Us Not Be Rash

This department has been queried as to our opinion in regard to the petition movement in wan-born relocation centers. Our reply is simple. We are in full sympathy with the general context of the petitions forwarded to Washington by the Amache Community Council and the Topaz Citizens Committee. We do not necessarily agree on all the points raised, however.

Insofar as the movement itself is concerned, the Nisei are well within their rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Beyond that, it would be treading on unsure footing. We must not forget that we are at war. This department does not encourage resistance to the draft.

It is reported that five at Amache and thirty at Hunt are guilty of resisting the draft. There will probably be more before this matter is finished. We cannot conscientiously believe that by these sporadic actions anything concrete and fundamental can be achieved. Those who are resisting the draft are too few, too unorganized and basically unsound in their viewpoints.

Expatriation is not the answer to our eventual redemption of democratic and constitutional rights. Unorganized draft resistance is not the proper method to pursue our grievances. Expressions and feelings of disloyalty, purely because democracy seems not to have worked in our particular case, are neither sound or conducive to a healthy regard of our rights.

We agree that the constitution gives us certain inalienable and civil rights. We do not dispute the fact that such rights have been largely stripped and taken from us. We further agree that the government should restore a large part of those rights before asking us to contribute our lives to the welfare of the nation-to sacrifice our lives on the field of battle.

But those who have grown bitter with the evacuation must not forget that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." We have not been vigi-lant. We cannot condemn democracy for our present unhappy predicament. Democracy is not only a form of government, but it is also a spirit. If there is no spirit of democracy in our governmental leaders, we would not have democracy in action. Let us therefore not condemn democracy but the men who manipulate public affairs and the masses who sympathize and condone undemocratic ideals.

We should at all times stand firm on our God-given rights. We should let our voices be heard whenever an attempt is made to abridge such endowed privileges. But ours should not be an act of rashness or haste. We, should think the matter through and in the ultimate end retain a proper; regard for the implications and repercussions that in all probability would arise from our acts. There is no reason why we should not petition for a redress of grievances, but there is every reason why we should not resist the draft in the way it is being done now.


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