Lights For Liberty: July 12 “A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps”

Yesterday I made a comment about wanting to participate in some type of physical action in regards to the detention camps. A friend directed me to this:

There is a group meeting at the Aurora, CO ICE facility. I’ve signed up.

Here’s the website for the national organization.  Lights for Liberty. org

Let me know if there are any other events/protests/interventions you know of.

Open thread

Dulce Et Decorum Est

I spent Memorial Day on holiday with the extended family, touristing around Chania, the old Venetian stronghold on the western side of Crete* — which meant that the holiday mostly passed me by until reading Adam’s post.

As it happens, though, my book for the day was Pat Barker’s Regeneration, the first of a trilogy.  The work uses the historical encounter between anthropologist and psychologist William Rivers and the poet-officer Siegfried Sassoon to explore (among much else) the impact of realizing that a war limned in the language and cant of glory or duty or courage is, instead, a meaningless meat grinder.

It’s very good…I’d heard of it for years but it took a stop at the Tank Museum in Dorset, with a discount paperback in the gift shop and a sun-and-sand vacation in prospect to get me to read it. I’m sorry to have waited so long, though given how much the Battle of Crete still comes up in local historical memory, maybe I got to it in just the right time and place.

But all this meandering ambles to this point (I do have one!): I’ve never served. I do not presume to speak for or at those who have.  I try to think and feel like a citizen who must give consent to the government that orders others to fight for the polity as a whole.  My minimum responsibility is to try to understand what war costs before giving even tacit assent to conflicts entered into notionally on my behalf.

So, over the last six decades, my sense of war began as one of XY kid fascination — with my dad’s and my uncles’ service, and with all the minutiae of World War II naval warfare in an obsession that lasted to a couple of years past puberty — and opposition to the Vietnam War picked up as local and family culture growing up in Berkeley.

But then came the books. In my teens I began to read books on war that weren’t straightforward military history or kids’ versions of Jane’s Fighting Ships and its ilk. There were two that had a decisive impact on my thinking about war: Robert Graves’s Goodbye to all That and Sassoon’s George Sherston trilogy, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting ManMemoirs of an Infantry Officer; and Sherston’s Progress.  Graves’s book was memoir; Sassoon fig-leafed with a pseudonym, but his is similarly an account of a pre-war life spent as an unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible, transformed by what came after August 1914.  Both, appear in Barker’s novel, where she made  good use of the way Sassoon in particular tried to express the daily intolerable, and, more awfully, the mundane inhumanity of the war in ways even the most complete home-front hero could grasp.

He and Graves failed in that, of course; the war drumming about Iran from men and a political party that won’t for a moment put themselves or their own kids at risk is only the latest case in point. For me, though those books had a profound impact on my 16 or 17 year old brain.  I can’t claim to be a complete pacifist; wars always represent failures to achieve ends by other means, but when such failures occur…

But the message I drew from the “Great War” remembrances, and then later from works like Herr’s Dispatches; and still later, O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, read pretty recently to keep company with my son’s high school reading list; and novels like Catch 22, which even at 17 I realized wasn’t actually a comedy, hilarious as it was, and so on…is that asking folks to fight for any reason but the most utterly compelling is the ur-war crime.  That’s how I see it still.

All of which is prelude to the question for all of y’all.  “Favorite” isn’t quite the right word, but perhaps this will do:  what is the book that makes war most real to you?  What work or works of literature or remembrance or history has moved you or altered views or simply made a difference to you? What would you have me read to understand how you think and feel and reason morally around violence and conflict?

And with that: over to the Jackalteriat!

*Dirty job and all that, but someone’s got to do it.°

°Well, in fact, no one has to do it.  But I’m happy enough to volunteer.

Image: John Singer Sergent, Gassed, 1919.

Columbine: 20 years

It never gets easier. It’s difficult to realize these beautiful children might now have children of their own. Maybe one of them would have run for office or become the scientist who solved climate change.

It was awful when it happened, so close to home. What I didn’t realize was it was going to keep happening….


The Coup Will Be Televised

This just in:

President Trump will support a sweeping budget and border compromise and declare a national emergency at the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell has already signaled he’ll support Trump’s move.

Until its members prove otherwise, the Republican Party is all-in on government by executive fiat, better known as a dictatorship. We appear to be at gut-check time for American democracy.

I’m sure I and/or other FPers will be posting more as events advance. I can say for my part I’ve never feared more for our polity.

PS:  Alternate image:

Image: The Downfall of the Dictators is Assured British propaganda poster betw. 1939 and 1945.

Alternate image: Painting of the USS Dictator — a monitor at war with America’s home-grown traitors in 1864 and 1865

In Remembrance of Fred Korematsu

100 years ago today, Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California. After being turned down for military service in 1940 for health related reasons he lost several jobs due to his Japanese heritage after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He underwent plastic surgery in order to pass as Latinx so he could work. Finally, Korematsu went into hiding to evade the internment camps. He was arrested in San Leandro and jailed in San Francisco. It was there that he was approached by the ACLU and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today is Fred Korematsu Day in a number of states:

Several states celebrate Fred Korematsu Day on January 30, Korematsu’s birthday. Established in 2011, the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution” honors the legacy of Korematsu, who resisted Japanese American incarceration during World War II. He was one of three who legally challenged imprisonment, all the way to the Supreme Court.

The issuance of Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 allowed for the removal of any persons from Western coastal areas. Although EO9066 did not specifically target Japanese Americans, it paved the way for the forcible removal of those of Japanese descent from their homes and into camps. In March, “Civilian Exclusion Orders” were posted for all those of Japanese ancestry in Washington, Oregon, California, and southern Arizona. The majority of those of Japanese descent in the US lived in these areas and two-thirds were native-born citizens of the United States. When faced with having to report to an assembly center, Oakland, California-born Fred Korematsu chose a different path. Korematsu, a 23-year old welder, stayed in Oakland with his Italian American girlfriend. He even had minor plastic surgery on his eyes and changed his name in an attempt to avoid recognition.

For those interested, there are more resources at The Fred Korematsu Institute.

It is especially important to remember Korematsu, as well as what he and other Japanese-Americans went through given the current travel ban, attempts to change immigration law and end asylum by executive order, and build a wall solely because the president’s advisors needed a way to make sure he’d talk about immigration while campaigning and because the idea of immigrants, legal or undocumented, makes Stephen Miller feel icky.

From The Washington Post:

Long ago, Fred Korematsu was arrested in San Leandro, Calif., his home town, for defying an executive order that led to the expulsion or imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

He later went to the Supreme Court to fight it, much as others now oppose President Trump’s executive order barring people from seven mostly majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Korematsu lost in 1944 and, although his criminal conviction was vacated in 1983, the case was not overturned.

Until Tuesday.

More than 30 years after Korematsu challenged, for the second time, what is widely considered one of the most unjust government actions in U.S. history, the country watched another legal battle conclude this morning, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Trump v. Hawaii. The court upheld Trump’s travel ban and overturned Korematsu’s case.

The irony is that Korematsu’s vindication came as the Supreme Court actualized his worst fear by “racially profiling of a group because they looked like the enemy,” according to Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Karen.

“The Korematsu court presumed people were dangerous because they were of Japanese descent. Today, it is because they are from a particular country,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, who is dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School and once called the Supreme Court’s ruling against Korematsu “one of the worst decisions in history.” Neither assumption, he said, is rooted in equal protection of the law.

“In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote, ‘Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided.’ I think a future court will one day say [today’s decision] was a huge mistake,” Chemerinsky said.

“Korematsu may be overruled, but it’s not to be celebrated,” said Karen Korematsu. “Unfortunately with this decision, we are continuing to repeat history.”

For months, Karen Korematsu heard echoes of her father’s old warnings in the way Trump’s order cast suspicion on an entire class of people, and the way its defenders in court made claim to national security without citing any evidence against the people the order affected.

She was reminded that during the campaign, Trump promised a broader ban on Muslim foreigners — as well as a registry of Muslims living in the United States.

She was reminded that one of his top backers cited her father’s case as legal precedent for such things.

“Racial profiling was wrong in 1942 and racial profiling and religious profiling is wrong in 2018,” Karen Korematsu lamented. “The Supreme Court traded one injustice for another 74 years later.”

Much more at the link.

Korematsu was sent to the Central Utah War Relocation Camp in Topaz, Utah.

(Topaz Internment Camp Historic Marker)

(Topaz Internment Camp)

Never again must mean never again!

Open thread.