Letters to the Editor

Internment article didn’t tell whole story

I read with interest your article about the internment of people of Japanese heritage in the current issue of Kitsap Week (“Pain, healing & gaman,” Feb. 17). Bainbridge Island has certainly taken the lead in continuing to focus attention on this unfortunate event in history.  But I wonder to what extent you fully researched the matter before you wrote your article?

I would commend to you this link, www.ww2pacific.com/relocation.html, for what I believe to be the best and most objective history of the process. In virtually all writings on the subject there is selective inclusion of material, and selective exclusion of material. I have yet to see what I would call a truly complete story in the press. If you read what is in the link you will see what I mean. Not mentioned in the article is that on Bainbridge Island at Fort Ward there was a top-secret U.S. Navy communications facility which was intercepting and decoding radio traffic from Japan.  There seems to be wonder as why Bainbridge Island was chosen to start the process. That might have had something to do with it. I’ll leave it at that.

What also bothers me greatly is that, while many of these people returned to their original circumstances and to their credit resumed “normal life” (whatever that is) after the war, the U.S. did truly horrible things to the American Indians and there has been virtually no outcry or outrage about that. I see a real hypocrisy here, quite frankly. Would not the million-plus dollars spent on the memorial on Bainbridge Island have been better used to help these people? I wonder.

When you look at historic events from the present day and with all the knowledge that accumulates following the events, it is easy to second-guess decisions made long ago. But if you can put yourself objectively into the place of those present at that time who did not have that knowledge, even discounting discrimination, it’s possible to see why certain decisions were made.

On a final note, consider that none of this would have happened if Japan had not attacked Pearl Harbor. Selective reporting of history may sell papers but I contend that the entire story should be told. The entire story does not justify what was done, but puts the whole thing into perspective.

Norman Marten
Bainbridge Island

 

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