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Letters to the Editor
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Sober Truths and Pabulum
I would like to thank letter writer Chris Jolley for his cogent and concise commentary in the June edition of Columns (“We Did What We Had to Do to Win”). He made me proud to be a UW alumnus.

I learned that, as a liberal, I put myself ahead of my country. I also learned that there is no subject—even a sober and thoughtful examination of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II—that cannot be enhanced by the inclusion of standard right-wing pabulum, even if such references lack relevance to the purported topic. I was reminded that it is “anti-American” to question our government, that it would be a “logical sacrifice” for Christians to go to an “assembly center” to avoid beheadings for practicing their religion and that high-income Americans are “singled out to pay higher taxes” in the interest of national security.

Additionally, I’m guessing the Japanese Americans who were relocated to internment camps will be buoyed by Jolley’s assertion that “other regular citizens” also were asked to sacrifice during the war effort. Reduced speed limits? Rations on gasoline, rubber and steel? Oh, such deprivation!

Mark Wardlaw, ’81
Santa Rosa, Calif.


Patriotic Threat?
Excoriating “anti-American” liberals for their reluctance to sacrifice for their country, self-styled “conservative” Chris Jolley proclaims that he would be willing to be interned—like Japanese-Americans were during World War II—if he “belonged to a group that had members who threatened the security of this country.” The irony of this hollow declaration is that many clear-thinking conservatives and liberals alike believe that pseudo patriots like Jolley do belong to such a group.

John Dumas, ’66
Gresham, Ore.


Humor or Non-Sequitur?

“The Stolen Years” is a job well done! Both issues [now on the Web] are available to those who want to know about this shameful period of American history. I fear that we are traveling this xenophobic road again.

Griffin’s historical account has emotional impact for me. While growing up I remember my parents speaking with quiet anger as they recalled how they were forced to leave behind their home and grocery store with only the personal items that could be carried in two suitcases. They were taken to the “assembly center” at the Puyallup Fair Grounds and then to Minidoka, Idaho. As hard as it was living within barbed wire, starting over again after the war was tough for them too.

Regarding the letter from Chris Jolley, his tangential discussion of liberals and conservatives came off as non-sequiturs. Or, did he attempt humor by reversing his definitions? Hmmm…

Jean Miyake, ’64
Scottsdale, Ariz.


Internment, Income Taxes, Insults
Chris Jolley’s letter (“We Did What We Had to Do to Win”) ignores historical fact and liberties that are the foundation of the Constitution. The letter’s contention that “liberals always put themselves ahead of their country and conservatives put their country ahead of themselves” is not borne out by the resumes of the current Republicans in power: Dick Cheney’s numerous draft deferments and George Bush’s failure to complete his National Guard service during the Vietnam era are matters of public record. Their smearing of John Kerry’s war record during the campaign was beyond belief. Japanese Americans were forced to give up their livelihoods and property while being interned; comparing their plight with “people with higher incomes...singled out to pay higher taxes” is an insult.

Nancy Anderson, ’69
Seattle

Liberty at Home and Abroad
I was deeply offended by the letter “We Did What We Had to Do to Win” in the June issue. I saw nothing liberal or conservative in the discussion about the morality of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and I thought that both articles were interesting and informative. From my perspective, the decision to intern a segment of the population based on their ancestry and a belief that they might pose a risk to the national security was nothing more than racism. Why else were German Americans, Italian Americans and others allowed to remain free, despite the fact that we were at war with their countries of origin?

It isn’t a question of liberal guilt or anti-Americanism; I believe that only a society that examines its past actions and admits its mistakes can remain free and continue to move towards the ideals upon which it was founded. The simple-minded rhetoric of “liberals always put themselves ahead of their country and conservatives put their country ahead of themselves” misses the point entirely, while also being completely wrong. While there are obviously many disagreements between the two extremes in American politics, I hope and believe that reasonable people across the political spectrum agree that racism is fundamentally inconsistent with the American ideal.

Further, I believe that doing “whatever we have to do to win” is also fundamentally inconsistent with the American ideal. If we violate our fundamental values of individual liberty, equal protection, due process and so on, we risk winning the battle but losing the war. I do not believe that the internment contributed in any meaningful way to the allied victory in World War II, but, even if it had been central to our winning, it is at least debatable whether the cost of such a violation of our values and ideals would have been worth it. How can we fight for the cause of liberty abroad as we simultaneously diminish liberty at home?

Finally, I doubt whether the writer has the strength to put his convictions into action, since he didn’t appear to be writing from active military duty in Iraq or Afghanistan—is there some reason he is not putting his country first right now? I can tell you what my very liberal father-in-law would say about it: “If he thinks the war is a good idea, why doesn’t he volunteer to go fight it?” By the way, my father-in-law enlisted to fight in World War II, despite being eligible for exemption as the youngest of four sons whose brothers were already fighting.

Dan Jolivet,’82, ’83
Alpharetta, Ga.