- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Should memorial include excerpts from Mike Masaoka?

The article "Dissident faction assails 'blindly patriotic' creed" (June 9) correctly suggests that there is a monumental controversy over the Japanese-American national memorial in Washington. Obviously missing are words that convey the depth of feelings and reasons behind the nationwide protest to remove the name of and quotation by Mike Masaoka.

To many, Mr. Masaoka represents the position of caving in to, going along with, and supporting government despite discrimination, oppression and violation of civil and constitutional rights. He and the organization he represented, the Japanese American Citizens League, advocated "constructive cooperation" with policies meted out by the government, even if they singled out Japanese Americans solely on the basis of "race" or ancestry and forced them into U.S. internment camps.

Your article quotes Rep. Robert T. Matsui saying that Mr. Masaoka's words reflected "extreme patriotism." Mr. Masaoka himself admitted that he and other representatives went to what he labeled "extremes" in the ideas they "seriously considered." In his own final report to the Japanese American Citizens League (April 22, 1944), he outlined two ideas for government to apply to Japanese Americans:

"One was to form a volunteer 'suicide battalion,' which would go anywhere to spearhead the most dangerous missions. To assure the skeptics that the members of the 'suicide battalion' would remain loyal, if such guarantees were necessary to quell the objections of the professional agitators of the West, the families and friends of the volunteers would place themselves in the hands of the government as 'hostages.' When this idea was informally discussed with the high military official, we were informed that it was not the practice of the government to require 'hostages' or to sponsor such 'suicide battalions.'

"The other plan was to operate all Japanese and Japanese American farms for the benefit solely of the government. In essence it was suggested that all farms owned and/or operated by persons with Japanese blood would raise as many crops as possible… . After the necessary expenses of buying the seed, planting, growing, harvesting and marketing, plus the costs of reasonable living, were deducted, all profits would be given to the government." This idea applied only to Japanese-American farmers, not all farmers.

Mr. Masaoka added that "the president's fateful Executive Order was issued before much came of them."

Patriotism is one thing, but extremism is another. When ideas and actions stretch to unreasonable and unfair bounds that violate individual liberties, freedom and rights, it is excessive and wrong. What's incredible is that despite "extreme" positions such as those mentioned here, Mr. Matsui calls Mr. Masaoka "a true hero."

RITA TAKAHASHI

Berkeley, Calif.

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The contrived controversy over the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism revives an old struggle over Japanese-American identity that dates back to World War II.

Suppressed in the demands for such memorials is the embarrassing fact that pro-Japan factions in the relocation centers terrorized patriotic pro-Americans of Japanese ancestry. Openly avowing their loyalty to the emperor by day, they ruled the centers by night. The victims of their beatings included Mike Masaoka's supporters, past and present. To remove his name from this memorial as problematic an enterprise as this is would be the ultimate triumph of those Japanese Americans who rejoiced in Pearl Harbor and prayed for the victory of imperial Japan.

This controversy makes a mockery of this Memorial to Patriotism, especially of those who volunteered to fight and die for America.

KEN MASUGI

Claremont, Calif.

Ken Masugi is co-author and co-editor of "Japanese-American Internment: The Bill of Rights in Crisis" (Golden Owl, 1994).

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I was 14 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and had this understanding of our nation's institutions. We Americans of Japanese descent were segregated into our ghetto in West Los Angeles through restrictive housing covenants. When we graduated from college, we wound up working as gardeners or in a vegetable stand. My parents and three of my siblings who were born in Japan could not become U.S. citizens and could not own homes, shops or farms. Jackie Robinson, the hero of the boys in my junior high school, could not play professional football or baseball even though he excelled in those sports at UCLA, because he was "Negro."

How could I possibly embrace our "nation's institutions, ideals and traditions" as Mike Masaoka, at age 25, did in 1940? In 1945, when I turned 18, I was deemed unqualified for military service because I had declined to swear unqualified allegiance to a government that had excluded me from the state of California and detained me and my family for several years without a shred of due process. The blind patriotism of Mr. Masaoka's creed is the stuff of tyranny, not democracy.

WILLIAM HOHRI

Lomita, Calif.

Article gives the 'food police' a free pass

The normally steadfast news balance of The Washington Times, particularly when it comes to nanny activists, took a sharp left turn when The Times published a double whammy of articles denouncing popular foods ("Junk-food mania" and "Listing of 10 unhealthy selections," Family Times, June 4).

The article quotes anti-choice food authors and activists with ease, but the reporter fails to cite a single expert from the food industry under attack.

Virtually every mainstream nutrition expert, including the American Medical Association, tells us there's no such thing as "good" food or "bad" food. There are only good and bad eating habits. The answer to almost everyone's individual weight problems can be found in moderating what we eat and increasing our exercise.

Figuring prominently in both articles is the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), whose denunciation of popular foods always dovetails with the advancement of its own political agenda. That's why the Tufts University Nutritional Navigator says of CSPI: "Much of their advice falls outside the realm of generally accepted nutrition guidelines and recommendations."

Also, when nutritionist and author Carol Simontacchi claims the food industry "is destroying our brains," there are plenty of experts available to debate that lunatic premise. Instead, The Times delivers Ms. Simontacchi's mind-boggling ultimatum: "Stop buying cookies, ice cream, candy and snacks."

So much for moderation or balance … in news or nutrition.

RICK BERMAN

Executive director

Guest Choice Network

Washington

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We were surprised and dismayed that the Family Times seemingly turned over its editorial control to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the infamous "food police," in "Junk-food mania." Equally disappointing was the absence of any food industry perspective to counterbalance the zealotry of CSPI.

Balance is the key word. The issues of diet and health are too important to be relegated to the false and misleading "good food/bad food" argument. The way to enhance the nutritional well-being of Americans is to promote a balanced diet and increased physical activity.

Indeed, a sedentary society is a big problem in the United States. The journal of the American College of Sports Medicine recently reported that the lack of exercise accounts for 22 percent of all cases of coronary heart disease, colon cancer and osteoporosis fractures in America as well as 12 percent of all diabetes cases. According to Surgeon General David Satcher, no state requires physical education in kindergarten through 12th grade. Participation in daily physical activities among adolescents in grades nine through 12 declined by almost one-third between 1991 and 1997.

Attacking specific nutrients in the food supply has not improved, nor will it improve the health of the American people. In the 1970s, the target was sugar. In the '80s, it was cholesterol. In the '90s, the enemy was fat. Consumers are confused now more than ever about nutrition, and these scattershot attacks contribute to this confusion.

Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle does involve discipline and making choices. It does not mean we must take choices away.

LISA KATIC

Director

Grocery Manufacturers

of America

Washington

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