Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Defending Korematsu

This may turn out to be unpopular but this forgotten information should be presented. File this under speaking truth to power.

Here is the long-on-outrage-short-on-logic New York Times on the recent Supreme Court decision on the President's travel "ban" (v 3.0) in which the majority had read 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f) and the dissent apparently had not.

It’s no small paradox that the justices chose Tuesday’s ruling to formally overturn, at long last, one of the greatest abominations in the court’s history, Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that upheld President Franklin Roosevelt’s order to lock up thousands of Japanese-Americans for years based on nothing but their ancestry — and based on a fabricated claim that our national security demanded it.
Let me introduce today's history-ignorant polemicists to the ghost of the NYT past, all the way back to 1983 when the reporters were coherent and knowledgeable about WWII history. We should never have revealed this, but, during WWII, we broke the German and Japanese codes and they did not break ours. So we knew what HQ in Tokyo was transmitting to the West Coast shortly after the war began. Although, then as now, we could only pinpoint the location of radio transmitters and could not find out who was receiving their transmissions. Here is what was being sent.

"Anyone reading this flow of messages during 1941 could easily conclude that thousands of resident Japanese were being organized into subversive organizations,'' Mr. Lowman said. ''Today we know that the Japanese Government misjudged the loyalty of Japanese Americans completely. But at that time no one knew for certain."

Only a few messages among the many hundreds reprinted in the Defense Department Magic study deal directly with the question of Japanese Government efforts to mobilize ethnic Japanese within the United States for intelligence purposes. However, hundreds of the cables contain espionage reports without citing the identity of the persons who furnished the information.

A cable from the Tokyo Government to its Washington embassy, dated Jan. 30, 1941, asked the embassy and Japanese consulates to arrange for ''utilization of our 'second generations' and our resident nationals.'' But it added, in parentheses, ''in view of the fact that if there is any slip in this phase, our people in the U.S. will be subjected to considerable persecution, the utmost caution must be exercised.''

On May 9, 1941, the Los Angeles consulate sent Tokyo a message marked ''strictly secret'' that seemed to assert that cooperation was being obtained from some ethnic Japanese.

So we knew transmissions to cause saboteurs and spies to arise on the West Coast were being sent from Imperial Japan, but we did not know who was receiving them. What to do to prevent sabotage on the West Coast? (The Germans were meanwhile planting sabotage on on the East Coast, although the FBI was competent back then and prevented it).

The solution was to move all the Americans of Japanese descent out of the West Coast. Certainly a harsh solution to an actual problem, but the worst thing ever? Hardly. And I can think of 8 Supreme Court cases much, much worse than Korematsu.

I would dearly love to join with those bashing the Democrats for their racist, groundless, horrible internment of the Japanese-Americans, but I know too much to do that.

There were German-American and Italian-American citizens interred as well on the East Coast, but not as many as the Japanese-Americans.

We won that war.


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