Ethnic Groups after Pearl Harbor and 9/11 – musing

Perhaps this comparison is derivative, but I’m feeling it at the moment.  The arguments surrounding the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” are one of the first things to surprise me about the American Right in a long time. It makes me kind of sad, because a lot of my friends are conservatives, and I hope they aren’t drinking the cool-aide.  Most things in politics I don’t argue too much on, I don’t know a lot and everybody else is entitled to there opinions when lacking complete information.  But this issue seemed different to me, and rather clear cut.  Revoking building permits on the basis of religion is not something I thought could be popular in this country since the civil rights movement.  Perhaps it isn’t popular, but there is a disturbing amount of group think in terms of vilifying Muslims at the moment.

I’m half Japanese, which might be news to a lot of people since I don’t have much “Asian Pride”.  But upon reading about World War II there was a funny attachment I had to the story of one young girl who was taken out of school to go to an interment camp.  She felt blamed for the nasty actions of people she had no control over.  At a later passage in the book a white California man discussed how he looked at a bus being loaded by Japanese Americans and thought “They are the enemy.”  This touched a chord with me because the young lady had a flavor similar to my mom, perhaps because both worked in a flower shop in the bay area (although I think my mom did this long after the war).  One can wag his finger at the man for thinking that way about Japanese Americans, but that seems kind of holier-than-thou to me.  I would not blame the guy, and he didn’t take any actions as far as I know, he just had internal thoughts.  We all have thoughts that are logically/factually incorrect sometimes.  It’s only natural as creatures derived by the processes of evolution that we generalize actions based on looks, if there is anything we should learn from any persecution at any time, it’s that we should not act on these inevitable thoughts.  On the other hand people with the power to feed flames of fear based hatred should be fought.  These selfish individuals are taking voluntary actions, that by any reasonable standard are within human control.  I can and I do blame these people for the role they play.  (FOX , Newt Gingrich, etc )

I don’t think a single person would defend the Japanese Internment camps as good policy.  After half a century the camps appear to be a foolish knee-jerk reaction to quell the fears of a majority in exchange for the country’s integrity while damaging the lives of an innocent minority.  Anyway, you get the point.  Bottom-line, let’s hope history isn’t too repetitive.  If somebody starts talking about “American Amnesia” indicating we have forgotten 9-11 and are losing to the Muslims, I promise to argue.  Unlike the Wall Street Bail-out or Obama-care which are intricate issues with subtleties and traps, this issue is clear cut.  I don’t see room to budge.  I’m usually a pushover when it comes to arguing about news/politics (I’ve uttered the words “Arizona had their reasons” despite disagreeing with the new law), but there’s really nowhere to push me on this issue.  At least not until I hear people defending the Japanese internment camps.

So I’ll argue.  I think anybody on my side of the fence should.  If the wrong side (whoever that is) wins the debate on Healthcare or fiscal policy then we’ll end up with inflation/deflation and unemployment blah blah blah.  Our country has shot itself in the foot a million times before like that.  But if we lose this argument here, we will live in a country that’s apathetic and maybe even predilected towards racism, and I’m less prepared for that.

[am I alone on this?  Comment below]

[I’m a bit loath to promote this guy, he’s a bad actor, but below is Kieth Obermann’s take (god damn it! he over-acts)]

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2 thoughts on “Ethnic Groups after Pearl Harbor and 9/11 – musing

  1. This issue should have/could have been a non-story. A few far-right activists caught wind of it, and decided it was an issue, and then more mainstream Republicans (who these days are beholden to these far-right activists who are euphemistically known as the Tea Party) heard about it and made it an issue, and by then all segments of the traditional and online media were reporting on it and the endless cycle of medium/message interplay had kicked into gear. I think that the construction of a Muslim community center that happens to be two blocks north of the WTC could have just as easily happened completely uneventfully.

    There is already a mosque in the Financial District: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=masjid+manhattan&sll=40.720352,-73.838607&sspn=0.008652,0.019312&ie=UTF8&hq=masjid+manhattan&hnear=&ll=40.71568,-74.00176&spn=0.017305,0.038624&t=h&z=15&iwloc=A

    There is also a chapel area inside the Pentagon where an imam holds Muslim services.

    The most striking statement to come out of this whole fiasco is was that of the president of the ADL, Abraham Foxman, when his organization shamefully sided with those who disagree with the community center/mosque’s building. He compared 9/11 survivors/families of survivors to those of the Holocaust and said, “Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”

    I find this to be a despicable statement. That both the Holocaust and 9/11 were monumental, unthinkable tragedies is beyond question. But when you were affected by one of these events, you don’t get some kind of “bigot card.” If you say that it’s okay for people who were affected by the Holocaust or 9/11 to be irrational or bigoted, then how about victims of the Virginia Tech shooting? Of the Lockerbie bombing? Of the Armenian genocide? Of someone whose loved one was murdered by an African-American? Do we tell that person it’s okay to hate black people, and vociferously oppose it if a black family moves near them? Where does it end? Everyone on Earth has SOME measure of tragedy in their life. Some more, some less, of course. Who in this universe should be the one to say, “your tragedy is bad enough that it’s okay for you to be a racist, but yours isn’t”? No one should. Generalizing about an entire group of people because of something that one or a few of them did is the definition of prejudice. And I don’t believe it is ever right, no matter how strong one’s feelings may be or what their reasons are for having them.

    1. I was talking to a friend today (who is a conservative by any reasonable definition). He had no sympathy for forcing the mosque to move because of some noisy news anchors and 9/11 victim. But he brought up the point that from the conservative perspective it’s traditionally the left is usually the one doing the “politically correct” based attacks by playing the “race-card”, the which I guess would be the left’s version of what you are calling a “bigot card”. (Yes, my knee-jerk reaction is that “it’s different” when we on the left play the race-card, but stay focused, that’s another debate). I think what you say logically extrapolates what putting hysteria into policy creates. My big point in the posting was basically proposing a control mechanism for this. People have the right to think rascist thoughts, but if they start enforcing there rascism on others then it’s the responsibility of others to disagree, else be ruled by rascists. On a side-note, I’m feeling a bit conflicted about having written this post, since perhaps it’s people like me getting angry that’s motivating continued air-time, which can further be exploited by idiots. (meh… I’m not too conflicted)

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