Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  February 28, 2015 8:30pm-9:36pm EST

8:30 pm
on selma, marching on montgomery after bloody sunday. and the people around the nation and around the world, the demonstrations on almost every major college campus in america. saying it is going to work out. it is going to be all right. and then president lyndon johnson -- speaking to the nation, and i think gave one of the most meaningful speeches any american president had given in modern times on civil rights and voting rights. and at the end of that speech he said "we shall overcome." that was hope. that said it all. >> joint american history tv next sunday, march 7 and 84 live coverage from soma alabama. -- selma alabama. >> each week american history tv
8:31 pm
sits in with a lecture for the nation's college professors. up next, richard reeves talks about the internment experiences of japanese-americans living on the west coast and how the press expressed hysteria over possible acts of sabotage. experiences of japanese-americans very widely depending on where they lived during a time of open racism. this is about an hour. >> part of what we're going to talk about today is the tendency for the press to all follow the same story line, which we've seen a lot of right now with two story lines that are taking up most of the news space these days.
8:32 pm
ebola, every paper's saying the same, every paper, every television, the internet is all following that story according to a pretty well known narrative because it's also been fictionalized in film. and then, what then knocks off ebola and people dying in africa. bill cosby, so that all -- everybody's writing the same kind of story about bill cosby every day but with different names. and so, today, i want to talk about a story that ran like that, what happens when a kind of fever, kind of hysteria usually based on fear, like ebola was where the press takes a line. or in this case, where the press was a major player in one of the darkest episodes in american history. the internment of japanese
8:33 pm
americans during world war ii in concentration camps in those barren parts of the country. the high deserts of the west and the swamps of arkansas. and if from here in los angeles, if you take route 395 north, say you're going to manmouth for skiing, which is why most people head up that way. it is pretty barren country. but about half way up, you come to a sign that says mansinar relocation camp. -- manzanar relocation camp.
8:34 pm
and there's a building there with a bit of a visitor center and that kind of thing. there was a day when 19,000 japanese americans from california, oregon, and washington were kept in that camp. none of these people had done anything. they were never charged with anything. they were put in these camps held there for four years during world war ii because they looked like the enemy. so i want to go through that. as you are driving up that road toward mammon, i remember many times someone in the car would say, isn't that where they put the japanese? it's just a barren desert. there's nothing at all there. it actually once was a lake, but los angeles, the water in los angeles comes from that land.
8:35 pm
they drained the land over those, over the years, and left it this waste land with dust fine dust all over it. and soon it would become home to people because they looked like the enemy. on december 7th, as i'm sure you know, 1941, the imperial japanese navy bombed pearl harbor. and a day later, the president of the united states asked congress for declaration of war against japan, against the imperial japan, and the words he used were, this is a day that will live in infamy. the sneak attack on pearl harbor, and what we're going to
8:36 pm
talk about largely is how the press reacted to that and because of the way the press reacted, the way the country reacted to it. a lot of this is going to be about words. any time history is always about which words you use. the first is concentration camps. concentration camps were the words used by president roosevelt on february 19 of 1942 when he signed the orders ordering the round-up of the japanese, both aliens and citizens living in the united states or living not in the united states, living on the west coast. the west coast was declared a war zone. there was fear, most of it unfounded, that the japanese
8:37 pm
could attack california, could attack oregon, could attack washington. if you were japanese or japanese-american, and you lived in iowa or in new york, none of this had anything to do with you. and as we'll see people in most parts of the country really didn't even know this ever happened. one of the families that was held in one of these camps for four years decided not to come back to california. and they lived for 40 years in indianapolis, indiana. she was a nurse, he was an accountant. and in that 40 years, not a single person that they talked to had ever heard of the camps of the concentration camps. i want to add that when i talk about words, concentration camps later took on a different meaning.
8:38 pm
because of the german extermination camps for jews for russians, for any political enemies that they had, so that a lot of people since tried to avoid the use of that term because though many japanese and japanese americans died in the camps, the conditions were pretty grungy and unhealthy, they were not death camps. they were just to keep them away because though there had never been a single act of sabotage by a japanese or japanese american during world war ii or the run-up to world war ii, they were put there because people were so afraid there would be acts of terrorism, bombings, people on hills with flashlights signaling to japanese submarines so they could bombard san francisco or whatever. those things didn't happen. but people were afraid of them.
8:39 pm
and the press was feeding that fear all the time. there are three other words that are involved in this are ise , nise, and kibe. ise was the japanese word for first generation. the people who came to america largely as farm workers or to build railroads were the first generation, the ise. they were not allowed to become american citizens. in 1924, the congress passed the asian exclusion act of 1924. asians could not become naturalized citizens of the united states no matter how long they were here. but according to our
8:40 pm
constitution, their children could become citizens. and their children were called the nise, the second generation. there was another group, greatly suspected, mostly unfairly, many of whom became great war heroes. and we'll get into that, called the kibe. and the kibe were american citizens, that is second generation japanese americans who would be -- who were nise but they were called kibe because they were of a group whose parents sent them back to japan to be educated. so they were born in the united states at a certain age, they went back to japan to go to school, live with relatives and then came back to the united states and they were called the kibe, which becomes very important because they were really the only young japanese in america who could speak the language. the ise could speak japanese very few of them spoke english.
8:41 pm
the nise could speak english they went through regular schools, many of them were in berkeley, ucla, usc, the main colleges in california, but they did not speak japanese. they spoke a little at home, but they were not fluent in the language. that becomes very important later when we need interrogators and interpreters in the pacific when we're fighting the japanese on island after island to okinawa. finally, the word, if you see -- if you see these incidents written about, generally it's called the japanese internment.
8:42 pm
but that is inaccurate even though it's the common usage. internment means you are an alien whose country is at war with the country you're in and you are interned until that war is over. that's if you're an alien. 75% of the japanese of the american japanese in the concentration camps were not aliens, they were citizens. they were incarcerated imprisoned, they were not interned. they had machine guns looking down on them. rounded up 2,000 japanese and -- within 48 hours of pearl harbor the fbi, the military, and police had rounded up 2,000 japanese and japanese americans in the west coast states.
8:43 pm
they were all on lists which had been compiled by the fbi, by the military, by the census bureau and, in fact, they looked like looked like the membership of the rotary club. it was anyone with influence. it was merchants lawyers , priests, journalists, any leader of a club anyone who donated to a japanese charity back home for them. those were the 2,000 people rounded up, mostly by the fbi most of them before sunset on december 7. all of them by sunset on december 8. they were not put in camps. they were taken directly to prisons in leavenworth, santa
8:44 pm
fe, around the country. and their families, many of them, did not know where they were for a year or two because the government would not reveal even that they had picked up these people, although their families were left behind trying to find out where dad was. dad was in a levinworth prison although he was never charged with anything other than being born in japan. the last thing i'll say about words is, we didn't want to call them camps. we didn't want people to know what they were like. there was a lot of propaganda that went out that made them sound like they were resorts resort communities. or as they were officially call ed pioneer communities. before they went there, though. the ones around, after the 2,000 are rounded up, then beginning in march, executive order 9066 which was what president
8:45 pm
roosevelt signed to put these people into camps and into jail, was signed on february 19, 1942 . on march 1st, we began rounding the army, began rounding up all the japanese. and by all the japanese, i mean, anyone as the government said , with one drop of japanese blood. they went so far as to scour the hospitals. and if people -- if an old japanese man, say, was in a hospital and could not be moved, they would assign four soldiers to guard him around the clock. people in their 90's who couldn't move. they scoured the orphanages to find any orphans who had any japanese blood in them. and they, too, were rounded up and sent to 19 assembly centers. where do you put an assembly center when you're going to round up 10,000 people in l.a.?
8:46 pm
what they used for the assembly centers were racetracks, fairgrounds, animal exposition centers, places where big rodeo rings and whatnot. and they kept them in stables. families, each family would get a stable with a dirt floor, a whitewashed wall, and obviously smelling like horses had lived there. and urinated there. and everything else there for 50 years, which they had. the japanese did not resist. there was no resistance at the beginning because they were so anxious to prove that they were patriotic americans. and they were glad to do what the government told them to do. and the government told them to live in stables behind barbed wire with towers and machine
8:47 pm
guns pointing down at them. they were good humored enough that they -- the joke at santa anita which was the largest of the assembly centers, the second was a racetrack up in san francisco, and everyone at santa anita would say they had the stable of the great horse sea biscuit. who had been housed there. the japanese were left to organize themselves. college students, all the college students at the university of california, every other college on the west coast were organized schools for the kids. they organized, there were 108 baseball leagues, the japanese were baseball crazy. the kids. there were 108 leagues at santa
8:48 pm
anita alone. and they would play ball all day. also, teenagers kind of liked it. because in very tightly knit patriarchal families, which the japanese community was, suddenly people were eating in mess halls. and they didn't have to eat with their parents anymore. the boys and girls could meet together, young boys, teenagers, in the stands and whatnot. and one of the things we accomplished, if it's an accomplishment, was to break apart the japanese family structure in four years. the first six months, usually, in an assembly center, and then on to the camps. this is what the camps looked like. they were tar paper barracks
8:49 pm
that were thrown up quickly. they had no plumbing, no heating, and they had an electric light every 20 feet although the people, families were put in cells inside these buildings, which were only 8 feet across. if there was a larger family, it would be 12 feet. there were two types of people. doctors, pharmacists, lawyers. and then there were rural and ocean japanese who were less well educated, worked farmland which they often owned themselves. the japanese were not allowed to buy land. they couldn't be citizens. they couldn't buy land. but they could buy land in their children's names. so they owned and produced 40% of the agricultural product of
8:50 pm
california. at the time they were taken in. and there was no small coincidence that that land almost all was stolen from them and taken by other farmers. white farmers who refuse to give it back after the war. and there really was no legal recourse because the japanese, after all, are in concentration camps and can't pay their taxes. and after they don't pay their land taxes or other taxes after a year, the state took over the land and turned it over to other farmers, turned over their boats to other fishermen, terminal island down in san pedro was a japanese colony before world war ii. all their boats were taken. the houses were knocked down. and the boat, the good boats were given to the coast guard,
8:51 pm
which used them to patrol the panama canal and the lesser boats were given to greek and italian fishermen farther north. if, again, the number was 120,000. we were at war with two other countries. germany and italy, and some germans and italians were arrested. particularly germans of the german-american bund, which was a semimilitary group allied with hitler. but giving away whether the program was racial, or not, if they had done the same thing to the germans and japanese that they did, we did, if we did the same thing, the germans and the italians that we did to the japanese, we would've had to put 50 million people into camps
8:52 pm
. because there were huge numbers, much larger numbers of germans and italians living here. they could become citizens because they were white. it was race that denied the japanese and chinese and koreans citizenship. like gerrymandering in politics, the lines had to be drawn pretty carefully. they had meetings in washington that went as high as the secretary of war to help design in san francisco a particular district, which would be called a war zone. and everybody that could be removed from a war zone and with gerrymandering because
8:53 pm
there was one family they wanted kept outside the lines. and that was the family of joe dimaggio, the baseball player, who had just hit in 56 straight games was the most valuable player in the american league. and the government knew what would happen if dimaggio's parents ended up in a concentration camp. the newspapers would've done a cosby and more about that. when the war was over, and one of the reasons some of this is still fresh. like men who are in combat rarely talk about what they did during the war. particularly to their families. they may talk to other veterans about it but they are ashamed or frightened or appalled by what they actually did in the war. and they were not about to tell their mother, their wife, their children what it was like.
8:54 pm
it was exactly the same for the japanese. the ise did not tell their children what they had done during the war. it was not spoken about among people. then a series of events happened in the 1960's, that prompted the japanese to begin telling what happened to them. and that, what it was was the civil rights movement by young black college students and the antiwar movement by young americans of all races and older americans, too. it brought up the questions that had been hidden about race about war, and the nise and the third generation, the
8:55 pm
grandchildren of the ise, began to ask their parents what did you do during the war, daddy? and the stories began to come out and the japanese began to organize, people wrote memoirs of what happened in the camps, academic books began to be written about the legality and constitutionality of what had been done to these people for no other reason than the fact that they looked different from most americans. but it became an open subject then in the late 1960s and 1970s. when it was actually happening back in the '40s, an assistant secretary of war named john mccloy, a very famous man in his
8:56 pm
time, said in a memo, they knew this was unconstitutional, we can cover the legal situation and in spite of the constitution. why the constitution's just a scrap of paper to me. the governor of wyoming who tried to keep camps out of his state, a man named nell smith shouted at one of the federal people who wanted to -- was organizing the camps, if you bring japanese into my state, i promise you they'll be hanging from every tree. the governor of idaho, the same reason, his name was chase clark said the japs live like rats breed like rats and act like rats. the commander of the army in the west, an old fool and a bigot named john dewitt carried the day with the slogan, a jap is a
8:57 pm
jap. there's no way to determine their loyalty. but it was not only -- the american army wasn't in great shape between the wars. the leftovers weren't the brightest bulbs in the store. and they -- and dewitt was a good example of that. and a lot of them, there was much, much more open bigotry anti-semitism, antiorientalism anticatholicism in the united states now than then. and these things were openly talked about. there were organizations which mimicked the ku klux klan to have these people locked up and, greed, being as american as apple pie, to get their land get their boats. and many of the people who were villains in this later became heroes. in this country.
8:58 pm
the attorney general of california then was named earl warren. he became governor warren and he became chief justice of the supreme court. he was the one who pushed the line before congress. he rode the backs of the japanese to the governorship. but his line was that the fact that there had been no sabotage was proof they were organizing massive sabotage and it would only happen when they got the word from tokyo. and that was what one political cartoonist took called waiting for the signal from home. and japanese lined up all over the west coast, picking up tnt to use to blow up americans.
8:59 pm
does anybody recognize the style of who this is it is dr. seuss. he was then named ted he was the political cartoonist of a left-wing magazine. this was his attitude. he bought into the fact that there was a japanese this column i.e. secret spies everywhere in the country, waiting to kill good americans like the rest of us. obviously, roosevelt who was a racist and in the sunlight -- anti-semi was in on it too. he also believed in genetics. he wants to castrate the germans because he thought that would --
9:00 pm
might stop them from making war. he believed it was the shape of japanese heads. that proved -- they were called slopes sometimes, it was the word, like the "n" word, that if they could figure ways to reshape their brains, his theory was -- and the president of stanford was one of the people who talked him into is this, was that they were 2,000 -- in brain, cranial development, they were 2,000 years behind white people. and if we captured them to try -- we should try to change the shapes of their skulls. roger baldwin, who was famous as the founder of the american civil libberties union, would not allow a young civil liberty's attorney's to represent the japanese because he was a close friend of roosevelt.
9:01 pm
and all of the roosevelt policy was designed to keep as much of this secret as possible until after the 1944 election. he won re-election for a fourth term. so it is not a new story. it has never been a new story. some of these themes, racist greed, injustice, denial, are part of the history of the country. and then there comes the soul-searching, the apology and the most american of coping mechanisms. let's move on. we're moving on. we are moving on from that area it went through the same cycle as it had with what we did with the british loyalists during the revolution when we took their land and killed them or drove
9:02 pm
them into canada and back to england. that is to say nothing of the indians, the native americans, who were forced out of their land and their land was taken by patriots. there was also a great deal of censorship in world war ii. there was a lot of censorship -- they only allowed pictures to come out of these camps. when the government approved of them. the government steamed open letters in and out and censored the letters. it takes a lot of manpower to do that when 120,000 people are writing letters.
9:03 pm
the censorship went so far as to the fact that until d-day, 1944, june of 1944, news media were not allowed to show pictures of dead americans. for the first four years of the war, three years, no dead americans were shown in american newspapers or magazines. that ended with d-day when the press threatened -- when thousands of people died thousands of americans, young americans, died. and the papers, rather than have the newspapers get to the supreme court, the government allowed some photos to be taken.
9:04 pm
you know, this is -- so the fact that this happened to other people, to the germans. it happened in world war i when there were fewer of them. they were not jailed but they were discriminated against. the irish, irish need not apply. and other catholics were kept out of employment. the italians, the jews, the chinese, the japanese, latinos the south asians, african americans. there is such an undertonew in american history. we call ourselves a nation of immigrants. but what we are is a nation made by immigrants.
9:05 pm
foreigners were needed for their labor, skills, and faith in an american dream but they were often hated because they were not like us until they were us. all of those groups became -- came to look down on later immigrants. but they were all discriminated against in their time. until they became part of the majority. and we saw -- the role of the press now -- the press knew something was coming. everybody knew something was coming. the tensions had gotten so great between america and japan. largely over the growth of japan and their needs for things like oil and steel when they are a country that really doesn't have
9:06 pm
the kind of natural resources to say -- that say we do. and we were sanctioning the japanese because of their aggression in china. the same as we are now sanctioning the russians because of ukraine and have sanctioned cuba. for no particularly good reason anymore. for more than 40 years. november data 13, -- november data 13, 1941, this is three weeks before pearl harbor, los angeles times front page headline was japanese put under f.b.i. inquiry. so the press knew it was coming. and, through the press, the public knew it was coming.
9:07 pm
this is the kind of thing that would happen. suddenly there was a big business in big buttons that said "i am an american" or "i am chinese." the chinese were allies, we were allies of the chinese in world war ii. and of course, most americans could not tell the difference between someone who was chinese and someone who was japanese. this is -- "life" magazine ran sections, biggest media in the country then, on how you can tell the difference between japanese and chinese. a popular cartoonist did a riff
9:08 pm
-- did a strip very popular at the time, did this for "life" magazine. also how to spot a jap. and it's pretty funny stuff. but you were supposed to check the distance between the toes of people of color on the theory that since the japanese used what we now call flip-flops, that there would be more space between their toes. it was always said here that you may find japs among any group. that is a favorite infiltration trick, make your man walk. the chinese strides, the japanese shuffles. make him remove his socks and shoes and then you do the toe routine.
9:09 pm
michelle, in her paper on the subject, said it was ridiculous to think you could tell. why? i know i can't tell. is there really a way to tell? >> it is not just an offensive overgeneralization. i mean, were they just going to start persecuting all asians who shuffle? what would happen to an old chinese man with arthritis and an overbite? what this cartoon did blatantly do is pay the way to condone racial targeting. this did not just come from anybody, but a journal as deeply entrusted as "life" magazine was. it was deeply irresponsible in
9:10 pm
, my opinion. which we can all appreciate from contemporary standpoint. when people flinch at the use of the term "jap." and one thing i do appreciate about it, though, is acknowledgment, at least, in a public forum that most people could not tell the difference between certain types of asians, which, you know, i think a lot of us still agree would happen today. >> well, would it happen today? would it happen today? would this happen again? why? taking a large number of americans, citizens, because of their race, their religion their national origin. >> i mean, it's not the same thing, but it's sort of happening with the ferguson and, like, you know, racial policy in the united states right now. so it's not the same thing at all. but it's only still an issue
9:11 pm
today. in terms of race. >> what if there's another 9/11. what would happen? >> i don't know. but we do a very good job of ill -- the will fine -- vilifying the other episodes like that. very, very traumatic for the country as a whole. >> does anybody else have any thoughts on that? >> in the cases of national security, they tend to be persecuted. i remember i was about to board a plane in geneva. i gave her my malaysian passport. she said she had to call her supervisor to report there was a malaysian so they could verify whether it was a real passport. because, as you know, there were people who boarded mh370 with stolen passports. they were italians, but that
9:12 pm
didn't seem to matter. things like that kind of inform our impressions of how minorities are tolerated generally. >> the japanese-americans citizens league, a controversial group for reasons i will not go into here, was the first group 2 -- two things about japanese-americans. when i was researching for this, in talking to a japanese woman one of the things she braught up was it was not black people by her account who integrated little rock high school in the '50s. when president eisenhower sent in the army. she said it was the japanese who integrated. because some of the japanese who had been in the camps in arkansas stayed in little rock area and became students at little rock high school. and were the only group of
9:13 pm
students who went into the school when the black kids went in. no whites went in but the japanese americans did. and the japanese american citizens league also was the first organization in the united states to circulate petitions after 9/11 saying that muslims in general, were not to blame for this and should not be arrested or concentrated. so that they knew what it was like -- my own opinion is we would do it again. and the most likely target would be muslims. although, it could be latinos. a lot of people in this country want to put latinos on the texas border in concentration camps.
9:14 pm
so things like this probably never go away. and we have to live with that. as lincoln said, we have to listen to our better angels. but we don't always do that. now, there are 120,000 japanese americans, maybe 125,00 considering the ones outside the west coast on the continental united states. there were 150,000 japanese americans on hawaii. but nothing was ever done. the only thing that ever happened to hawaiians, it just -- that also happened to the japanese on the mainland was that they were thrown out of the army. but that was done and then secretly reversed for reasons
9:15 pm
i'll go into. but why weren't the hawaiians, who, afterall, were much closer to japan, were much more likely to be invaded, had already been bombed and there were great stories about how they had sabotaged things, all of them untrue. why weren't the japanese on hawaii interned? because they were 40% of the population and the hawaiian economy would have collapsed if they put them in camps. the idea was they would have put them on a separate island, but without them, the economy of hawaii would have collapsed. obviously, the japanese americans got picked on here. because they were relatively small group and the fear, the hysteria, the meanness, the greed all landed on them.
9:16 pm
i'm going to skip a lot of what i was going to say to talk about how this ended. why did this end, just as i'm passing through here, this is a columnist, well-known, named henry mcelmore who was both in "l.a. times" and the "san francisco chronicle." strictly speaking, as an american, i think americans are nuts. the only japanese apprehended have been the ones the f.b.i. actually had something on. that was not true. the rest of them, are free as birds. i know this is the melting pot of the world and all men are created equal and there must be no such thing as race or creed hatred, but do these things go when a country is fighting for
9:17 pm
its life? i'm for immediate removal of every japanese on the west coast to a point deep in the interior. i don't mean a nice part either. personally, i hate the japanese. and that goes for all of them. let'm be pinched, hurt, hungry and dead up against it. so this fellow is pretty famous fellow in his time. he prattled on that way. but the one that counted was when waulter litman, i want to read a couple of the headlines hey, from the papers, in early 1942. "the los angeles times." these are headlines. page one headlines. " crime and poverty go hand-in-hand with asiatic labor." "brown men are made citizens illegally."
9:18 pm
"japanese are minister american women." "japanese males are taught by their elders to look upon american girls with a view to sex relations." the proposed assimilation of the two races is unthinkable. it's morally indefensible and biologically impossible. an american would die -- would american not die rather than yield to this infamy that deserves no name? in san francisco, this is from "the chronicle," front page. jap boat flashes message ashore. enemy planes cited over california coast. japanese tomato plants point to airfields. this was william randall hearst. like dr. seuss.
9:19 pm
"come see the marriott of little -- myriad of little japs raising fruits and flowers and vegetables on california sunshine and saying hopefully and was fully some day i come with japanese army and take all this." none of these things were true. but they build up the hysteria that people all over the country worried about what was going to happen to relatives, other people, in this part of the world. edward r. murrow, his name was edward r. murrow of cbs news gave a speech in washington saying i think it's probable that if seattle ever does get bombed, you'll be able to look up and see some university of washington sweaters on the boys doing the
9:20 pm
bombing. there was a mother in washington , wrote to her daughter named anne and said anne, don't you think you and johnny, who was her husband, and the girls there were two little girls, should leave the west coast while you can? she said, i have to go now and talk with your father about that. that was eleanor roosevelt. the father of annie was the president of the united states. the roosevelt family in seattle state. but a mother is a mother. the most important journalist in the country was walter lippman's
9:21 pm
column appeared in 250 newspapers across the country. he had been a speechwriter for woodrow wilson. he was head of the foreign policy association. and he came out to california to see for himself. he had lunch with earl warren who gave him his theory. i believe we're just being lulled into a sense of security. our day of reckoning is bound to come. we are approaching an invisible deadline. that was warren's whole theory of organization in secret. walter lippman came back to washington in february of 1942 and wrote those same things in a column. as the greatest liberal columnist in the country considered the smartest journalist in the country, that
9:22 pm
is part of what gave roosevelt the cover to sign order 90066. what he said was, the new york herald and 250 other papers, the pacific coast is in imminent danger of combined attack from within and without. "it is a fact there has been no important sabotage on the pacific coast. from what we know about hawaii and the fifth column in europe this is not as someone might think, there is nothing to be feared. it is a sign that the blow is well organized and held back until it can be struck with maximum effect." that was warren's line. that was lippman's line. it became, through the press roosevelt's line.
9:23 pm
what finally happened with the military zone was set up on the west coast. the three west coast states less hearts of arizona. everyone in them was rounded up under gunpoint so they did not resist and were put first in the assembly centers, the stables. and then in the concentration camps. the newspapers also at that time reported page after page on the battle of los angeles. the battle of los angeles was fought on the night of february 24th with army and antiaircraft guns blasting hundreds of rounds in the sky for hours. five people were killed in it. as the roads out of the city
9:24 pm
were clogged with people fleeing for their lives. "the l.a. times" headlined "l.a. ratedided." they did not bring down the enemy. guns missed. the enemy was a navy wealther balloon. that was the battle of los angeles. so i'll bring this to an end for now. talking about how it ended. and what the american people did. even the united states, the population than 140 million people, was running out of men to fight the war. so at the beginning of 1943,
9:25 pm
they allowed japanese americans who had been in the army to rejoin and let others either enlist or be drafted, but they were put in a segregated unit, like blacks, called negros then, or colored people, did not serve together, no matter what you see in the movies, did not serve together with whites nor the did the japanese. the japanese were formed into the 442nd regimental combat team, which fought in italy, france, and germany and became the most decorated military unit in american history. 11 medals of honor were given
9:26 pm
, including to a young hawaii and named them in way -- dan inouye, whose arm was blown off fighting in france, and became a senator who served for 40 years. the publicity surrounding the 442nd began to change the minds of the country about the japanese americans and their so-called anti-american attitudes. the public did not know that at the same time, 6,000 japanese americans, only one in 100 american japanese or japanese americans could pass any kind of fluency test in japan. and the fluency test was third grade japanese.
9:27 pm
the kibae who had been educated in japan were recruited in military service. what they did was translate japanese -- the japanese believed that their codes were unbreakable. the 6000 of them could translate them. they interrogated as. they crawled into japanese camps and stole their maps. they pretended to be japanese officers and ran into japanese camps and told everybody to charge this way, where american troops were waiting to ambush them. general macarthur's chief
9:28 pm
intelligence officer estimated at the end of the war that the m.i.s., never known to the american public, the public didn't know they had existed, had shortened the war by two years and saved american lives. so, finally, i'll end up, obviously i could go on forever. the press kept at it. in 1944, the "l.a. times" did a poll, do you favor a constitutional amendment after the war for deportation of all japanese from this country? and for bidding further immigration? yes, 10,598, no, 72.
9:29 pm
so that i'll end up here. here we go. there was a very famous incident in a town called hood river valley. which is in oregon. one of the most beautiful towns in the world. it's between mt. washington and the cascade river. it was 40% japanese. they're very famous for growing apples and cherries before the war. after the war, the american legion post first blacked out the names of all the japanese. 11 from the town japanese americans who had been killed in combat, blacked out their names and said that they would take care of anyone who tried to come back.
9:30 pm
there was a lot going on. the hood river became famous. but it wasn't only there. a lieutenant colonel named james hanley was from a small town in north dakota. and he was a commander. the battalion commanders of the 442nd were white men, although japanese took over if the white commanders were killed. two out of three word. -- two out of three were. he was a commander. he happened to read a short commentary in his hometown newspaper saying there are some good jap americans, but it doesn't say where they are buried. that was written by the editor of the paper, charles pierce
9:31 pm
who was a friend of hanleys. hanley wrote him back and said yes, charlie,i know where there are some good japanese americans. there are 5,000 in this unit. they are american soldiers and i know where they're buried. i wish i could show some of them to you, charlie. i remember one japanese american. he was walking ahead of me in a forest in france. a german shell took off the right side of his face. i wish the boys of the lost battalion -- the 442nd became very famous for rescuing battalion from a texas division that was lost behind enemy lines. so that hanley continued. in this letter to the editor. i wish the boys in the lost time can tell you what they think of japanese-americans. the marvel is, charlie, that
9:32 pm
these boys fight at all. they're good soldiers in spite of the racial prejudice shown by your paragraph by your newspaper. i know it makes a good joke, but it's the kind of joke that prejudice thrives upon. our system is supposed to make good americans out of anyone. it certainly has in the case of these boys. you and the hearst newspapers and a few others make one wonder what we're fighting for. i hope it isn't racial prejudice. in orange county, westminster california, where many japanese had lived, was a family named masuda. and they were imprisoned in hill river, arizona. and then, there were four sons two of them were killed in germany. and when their sister and mother
9:33 pm
returned to westminster within a , few weeks, midnight raiders came to her door and told her to get out. she was frightened and she did. one of her brothers had been posthumously awarded the distinguished service medal, the second highest decoration for bravery in the united states army. when a general named joseph stillwell, vinegar joe stillwell, who was something of a legend, heard about that, he went to westminster and presented the medal to mare y masuda, the sister of sergeant kazua masudo. he couldn't give it to the mother because she was an alien. and even with everything that
9:34 pm
happened orientals were not allowed to become citizens until 1952. and this is what joe stillwell said on the steps of westminister hall. "they saved an awful big hunk of america with their blood. i say we soldiers ought to form a pick ax club to the japanese americans who fought the war with us. anytime we see a barfly commander picking on these kids or discriminating against their families, we got to bang them over the head with a pickax. i'm willing to be a charter member. we cannot allow a single injustice to begun to them without defeating the purposes for which we fought." so that is the story, part of the story a japanese-americans in world war ii and the press in
9:35 pm
world war ii. as i said, i don't doubt it could happen again. if it does, it will be the press, now more diverse press but more far-reaching, that does it. that is it for today. thank you. >> join us each saturday evening at 8:00 and midnight eastern for classroom lectures from across the country on different topics in american history. lectures are also available as podcasts. visit our website or download them from itunes. >> on december 20 1, 1864, union forces under general william tecumseh


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on