Tuesday, April 2, 2013


At the Manzanar Relocation Center.  Photo by the great Ansel Adams.

The United States government, in the person of that honest, stalwart and upright Commander-in-Chief, has assured us that the government would never round up US citizens in internment camps, even while the government is right now building a very large 'FEMA' camp out West and has put laws into place making such internment "legal" and while still holding and torturing innocents in Guantanamo Bay.  Our president was shocked that we would ever think such a thing.  This is America, after all, he assured us in that smoothly reptilian style of his.

This is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.   We weep at football games while the Star Spangled Banner is sung.

But while the tears are flowing as we sing about bombs bursting in air it might be helpful to recall, on this Opening Day of baseball season, that 71 years ago, on April 1st, 1942, the United States sent thousands of Japanese into internment camps...because they were Japanese.

I have my doubts that you will be hearing much about this from the major news media this week.

American war crimes come and go without too much notice.  There are a number of reasons for this, some of them obvious, others more confusing.  We all learned our US history in the 5th Grade and the lessons learned have stuck with us.  Not even our churches, imbued with or frightened of Americanism, have talked much about this.  Even in these days of the internet, as war crimes being committed are becoming ever more visible and impossible to deny, that 5th Grade history text trumps any and all reflection and thought upon the darker side of our history.

We know that had America been Catholic from the beginning, which was possible considering the strong historical Catholic presence in the West, the South and Canada, we wouldn't have been doing things like we did to the Japanese innocents, or dropping atomic weapons upon civilian populations, or carpet bombing European cities.  If we had been Catholic we probably wouldn't have been in that terrible war in the first place.  There are those who have dedicated their lives to the conversion of today's America to Catholicism, a noble effort to be sure.  That such a task may seem Herculean, or even Utopian, should not deter us from helping such efforts.  But while engaging in that kind of effort we should not close our eyes to the crimes of the past.  True patriotism does not mean joining the military and going off to "fight for freedom" (as if that was ever the case these past 150+ years); rather it means loving your country while dedicating yourself to cleansing it of the filth of the past and the present.

The injustice being remembered today is merely a reminder that we Americans might do well with a second and large helping of humble pie.  The military reminisces of our various Colonel Blimps hold no interest for this writer.  Jingoism and flag-waving while ignoring our inglorious past and present leave some of us rather disgusted.  Hilaire Belloc would often write of his own military experiences when he was young, when there still was a bit of chivalry left in soldiers (vide the famous World War 1 Christmas truce).  But when he got older that great man began to see things differently and to look at men-in-arms less romantically.  Losing sons in an evil and far from chivalrous Second World War being fought on behalf of international money-grubbers had a lot to do with it, as did Belloc's exemplary Catholic faith.  While we are losing what few freedoms we have almost every day we might wish to start resorting to that kind of humility which can give strength, the kind that remembers the wrongs we have done, with a firm purpose to never allow such wrongs to happen again.

Innocent Japanese then, as innocent Arabs now [WARNING: the link posted is hideous], were and are shamefully treated by the government of the United States and, I'm afraid, by far too many citizens.  These are crimes, and they must never be blotted out of our memories.

America needs to go to Confession.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking truths deserve the real Bravo's. And dear young men who sacrificed and are sacrificed for causes that were false, deceits, lies which to them were unknown. So much human fodder. I recall a quote but can't recall the speaker, 'Most wars are the sacrifice of many for the power of few'. I too am disgusted. near sick to death of the Nation's Narrative.

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