"From 12/7 to 9/11: Lessons on the Japanese American Internment"





On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized his secretary of war to establish military areas in which certain people were not allowed. Issued in the wake of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the order mentioned no ethnic groups, but its execution focused exclusively on individuals of Japanese ancestry.

"From 12/7 to 9/11: Lessons on the Japanese American Internment," on view at UCLA's Charles E. Young Research Library through June 30 and organized in conjunction with the 65th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, traces the effects of the order‚s implementation and suggests troubling present-day parallels. The exhibit uses photographs, artwork and archival materials to tell personal stories that raise serious questions about loyalty, racism and goverment expediency and that plead for tolerance and understanding of other cultures, religions and points of view.

Within a year of the executive order, more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, including 175 UCLA students, had been uprooted from their homes and communities and imprisoned in camps ranging from California to Arkansas. The vast majority of these so-called"internees" were American citizens or legal residents on the West Coast whose only „crime‰ was being of Japanese descent.

The U.S. government has since acknowledged that racism rather than military necessity motivated these actions. In 1976, President Gerald Ford signed an order repealing Executive Order 9066, stating that the removal was wrong. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a civil liberties act that authorized payments of $20,000 to each surviving person who had been incarcerated. The first of these checks was issued in 1990, accompanied by an apology signed by President George H.W. Bush.

The lessons of Dec. 7, 1941, and Executive Order 9066 continue to resonate today. Some have drawn analogies between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and those analogies extend to the government‚s subsequent treatment of people based solely on their ethnicity. Hoping to preserve civil liberties and keep the government from repeating its mistakes, many Asian American leaders, organizations and individuals have, since Sept. 11, spoken out for tolerance and understanding and against discrimation and wrongful detention of Muslims, South Asians and Arab Americans.

Among the exhibit‚s contents are proof prints by Ansel Adams of photographs he took at the Manzanar internment camp; oil and watercolor paintings by George Matsusaburo Hibi and Kango Takamura that both document camp life and evoke its bleakness; and intimate drawings by Estelle Ishigo, a Euro-American woman who voluntarily accompanied her husband to the camps, which focus on the lives of families and children. Photographs and publications provide an overview of the military service of Japanese Americans, which included the most decorated unit of its size in the U.S. Army. The experiences of UCLA students are reflected through campus memos, personal correspondence and UCLA yearbooks from the 1940s.

Selected pages from a 1983 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel that overturned the 1942 conviction of Japapnese American Fred Korematsu for disobeying the executive order, as well as materials documenting research conducted by lawyer Jack Herzig and his wife, Aiko Yoshinaga-Herzig, on behalf of Korematsu and his defense team, explore the actions that led to the government‚s acknowledgment that its actions under Executive Order 9066 were wrong.

Photographs, artwork and personal stories of post-Sept. 11 detainees suggest that racial and ethnic profiling by the government in times of perceived danger is not a thing of the past. And books and articles by scholars who have studied or taught at UCLA expand on many of the subjects raised throughout the exhibit.

The exhibit draws from the holdings of the Research Library and its Department of Special Collections, the Asian American Studies Center Reading Room/Library, the University Archives, and various private collections. It is organized by Lane Hirabayashi, Marjorie Lee, Robert Nakamura, Don Nakanishi and Irum Shiekh of the UCLA Department of Asian American Studies and the Asian American Studies Center, and by Norma Corral, Dawn Setzer and Ellen Watanabe of the UCLA Library.

Admission to the library and exhibit is free. Library hours are: Through June 3: MondayˆThursday, 7:30 a.m.ˆ11 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m.ˆ6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.ˆ5 p.m.; Sunday, 1ˆ10 p.m. (May 28, 9 a.m.ˆ5 p.m.).


comments powered by Disqus
History News Network