22 December 2007

Historical Convergences

Mission Specialist Daniel Tani holds up a sign that says
"Hi Mom" as he and fellow astronaut Douglas Wheelock
prepare to board the Space Shuttle Discovery for thei
flight to the International Space Station in this image
from NASA TV October 23, 2007. (Reuters)

The sad news on the radio this morning was about American Astronaut Daniel Tani, whose mother was killed in an automobile accident this week even as he is stuck aboard the International Space Station. Rose Tani, who was 90, was Japanese-American; the news stories mentioned that like many others she had been imprisoned by the U.S. government as a child.* The irony need not be stated. In 1988 the U.S. Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed into law legislation that officially apologized for the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. According to the legislative language, Japanese-Americans were rounded up and imprisoned not because of anything they actually did but due to "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership." In the current context of political duplicity this is an astoundingly candid admission.

In The New York Times today is this story about plans peddled by J. Edgar Hoover in 1950 to round up and imprison roughly 12K Americans whom he deemed security risks. His rationale? National Security in a time of war or other emergency (can you say "war hysteria"?). Hoover's plan involved suspending the right of habeas corpus. Yet, if you are tempted to dismiss this as an historical aberration, or merely the paranoid fantasies of an individual nut like Hoover, the Supreme Court - yet again - is hearing challenges to the Bush administration's persistent, wrong-headed refusal to recognize the right of habeas corpus.
* A year ago or so I posted on the recent volume of photographs that Dorothea Lange took to document this imprisonment of innocent people. The photos had been lost in the archives for many years and so had remained largely unknown.

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Anonymous Dysterkvisten said...


It´s christmas time, so why not discuss religion in a serious manner.

23 December, 2007 08:36  

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