Silly Grins

Friday, August 19, 2011

Years of Sorrow, Years of Shame: Divisiveness

Part II of III (or so) V

"Years later, the questions I'd been willing to ask myself by not being intimidated into not following a certain train of thought introduced me to a power like Hurricane Betty with an attitude not entirely unlike Hiroko, only this graceful work of art was into her 90's.  Unlike Uncle Yo, her story was recorded (to be written down at a later date."

But first, I'd like to pay my respects to the late LH for daring to speak her mind (and all those like her).

In some ways, nothing has changed. The core is still there.

What the hell is this guy blogging about? 
After listening to an interview posted on here where an intelligent and attractive urbanite brought up three likable things about living in Tokyo: convenience, nightlife, and friends.

In that way, cities are a sinch. But if you are planning on staying long-term, cities can be brutal.  Not really news for most people. But this isn't about the city life.

How about places that are inconvenient, have no nightlife, and are located where choice of friends are scarce?  You learn to do more with less.  

In some ways, nothing has changed.

Maybe the best way to tell is by showing. Does anyone remember I**ho Digest?
Even if you don’t, that is not really important. What is important is that the digest is where a connection was made in the name of combating divisiveness. 

And this is what it looked like:

I am a 73 year old Nisei who spend 4 carefree and happy teen-aged years - September 1942 to August 1948 -- in the relocation center of Sl*can in the beautiful K**tenay Valley in the interior of BC.. This kind of statement is likely to bring down on me the righteous wrath of a small group of righteous Sansei "anit racists" and "human rightists" belonging to the NAJC (National Ass*ciation of Ja*anese Canadians --website: www.n* (and as matter of fact has--I am very much in their bad books) They key word, perhaps, is "small". Most Canadians of Japanese descent are too busy leading busy, useful lives to even know what the N*JC is doing and saying in their names. This is the really worrisome part. 

The criticism R*lph directs at the LA writer is apt, and is what has me climbing walls
I think the first time I took notice and began to realize what I now think of as "tyranny of Redress" was in 1998, when a French Canadian columnist for the popular French tabloid "l* Journal d* Montreal" sent daily reports from Nagano and accompanied his by-line with a photograph of himself with his hair pulled back, and his eyes pulled up. It made him look a bit like a 18th century woodblock print samurai, though certainly not as beautiful -- I remember thinking, "hmm... ugliest looking samurai I've ever seen", but wasn't offended or insulted--just shrugged it off, half amused. He apparently made two rather lame jokes about Asian facial features during the two weeks he covered the Olympics. Well, three Montreal Sansei were on the radio, on television, in the print media, on the internet (even made it to CNN) and were obviously in their glory denouncing the "stereotyping" racism.. They were offended on behalf of ALL Japanese and Asians and demanded that he cease and desist, the the paper apologize, that the Quebec Press Council do something, etc., etc. (The Press Council criticized the insensitivity of the writer, but said it did not consider what he did actually racist. 
I think most of the Nisei and other Sansei just kind of rolled their eyes at the big brouhaha but when the M*ntreal G*zette published as story stating the Japanese consul had had to write to the Journal because the Montreal Japanese community was "up in arms". I wrote a letter to the editor. I said I thought the three young people who were indulging in overkill, and that I was more disturbed by the Anglophone sports commentators who was indulging in a lot of Quebec bashing by describing them French Canadian athletes collectively as "French Canadian whiners". 

Well! The shockwaves that hit the small Montreal N*JC group. The mother of one of them --a dear friend with a sense of humor -- phones to warm me that the group was very upset, that they felt I should have consulted them before taking it upon myself to write such a letter, and that one of them would be telephoning me. Sure enough, I received a call, got a lecture about the importance of fighting racism, to which I responded that I didn't feel threatened or even particularly offended by the writer's somewhat juvenile sense of humor, and felt I had the right to express my own opinion without obtaining permission --after all, she and her group had been doing their things all over the place for day, and she hadn't consulted me..And then she said something that completely baffled me: "What was Redress for, then?" I said stupidly, "what ABOUT redress?" , and she explained it had changed her life completely, it had given her life meaning, and burst into tears at my callousness. It's like she was brainwashed!
A Nisei phoned me to congratulate me for my "courage" in writing the letter, claiming I had to have a lot of "guts" to rebuke the N*JC activists --and he is no shrinking violet--he is a very successful [blank], and a [blank] member a Nisei who has done well in the mainstream community. Apparently he is in their bad books too, because he demanded that the Montreal J*panese Canadian Community Centre and the Montreal B*lletin (a monthly newsletter) give fiscal accounting. They actually stopped his subscription to the bulletin. This ware-ware ethnocentric thinking is very worrisome. to me. 

It's not the narrow Japanese eyes that are troublesome, it's the narrow minded view of these righteous activists.And these young people (in their thirties and forties)who vicariously feel the pain of internment (one National N*JC past president said a more accurate word would be ethnic cleansing!) fail to see the irony of lecturing someone who actually knows what it is to be a victim of racism. Their big problem is a complete lack of any sense of humor. 

Sorry this is so long, but [Will], you did want to hear  from former internees!

Presently, here in Canada I'm the only one Nisei making a lot of noise and objecting to being described as "scarred", "silenced" etc, etc, but I hear from Nisei who are glad I'm doing it-, and some who say they agree entirely with me but don't like washing dirty linen in public. Many are upset at the distorted history being presented, others recall that some of the cruelest  pain was inflicted by Issei whose instinctive loyalty was to Japan. Some Issei were pretty racist, let me tell you! There was a lot of militant Japanese propaganda reaching all the way across the Pacific. Hirohito was depicted as diving--we weren't even allowed to look at a PICTURE of him, and in the mid to late thirties, the Japanese language school in our community sent imonbukuros to the Japanese soldiers fighting in China. 
One of the settlements of the Redress in Canada was the setting up of the *RRF (Canadian R*ce R*lations Found*tion; www.* , and if you go through the site, especially the youth site http://www.* [404] you will understand why I worry the divisiveness which the redress has helped create. Tell me if you don't think there is a lot of subtle reverse racism displayed her on this "race relations" website. 


(I've done my best to be as accurate as possible with the transcription, which includes the typos - the asterisks are my additions)

The message I receive from LH is directly linked to the book I'd read that is featured in the previous post; that will be covered later. There is more correspondence, but I will hold off for now.

And for anyone who has read this far, any comments, however brief, are appreciated.

Thank you for your time.


  1. http://www.* I put in a c, but nothing came up?

  2. Momotaro: If you replace the asterisk '*' with a 'c' you should be able to get there.

    I would be interested in knowing what people think about this topic (almost gave in to the temptation to ask readers to think about what they 'know' about this before jumping in).

    My main point in even going here (to this topic) is that it eventually led me to the 'graceful work of art' alluded to at the beginning of the last post in the series as well as at the beginning of this post. She'll be introduced over time, after Sorrow and Shame is finished.

    But first, LH is getting some airplay. Part's III-V are already finished and will most likely be posted over the next few weeks...depending on a number of issues that are not blog-related.

    Thank you for your time and if you have any comments or questions, don't hesitate.

  3. Momotaro: My bad...did not realize that a person must be logged in to look around now. I may have to edit a few things as I don't want to have anyone going in circles. Thank you for letting me know about the 404.

  4. this story, but the Jewish variant of it, sounds very familiar to me. For the longest of times I was going to write about what my grandfather told me when I was back "home" a while ago, but to do so must first create some order in present days' chaos!

  5. Bigg: Despite the 'hardships' people are said to have endured at the relocation and interment centers, I'm sure (from what I've read) it was nothing in comparison to the kinds of things I read about in Man's Search for Meaning by Frankl. After you've tamed a bit of the chaos, I would definitely be interested in being part of your audience. One mountain at a time.