From Speeches by Dillon S. Myer
Director, War Relocation Authority

(January 1945)

...The departure of loyal Issei and Nisei from the relocation centers will be a steady and continuing process. Those returning to the formerly restricted area will come back gradually and not en masse, both because of the personal circumstances of evacuee families and individuals which will slow their return, and because of the pull of other economic opportunities which will induce many to turn eastward.....

...Loyal evacuees are free to return to the West Coast under revocation of the mass exclusion order by the Western Defense Command, and indeed to go anywhere they wish in keeping with the recent Supreme Court decision in the Endo case. This action of the Army and the decision of the highest tribunal in the land will of course be readily understood and complied with by all law-abiding Americans.

Stating its conclusion in the Endo case the Court said: "We conclude that, whatever power the War Relocation Authority may have to detain other classes of citizens, it has no authority to subject citizens who are concededly loyal to its leave procedures."

For the WRA, the military action and the court decision brings to an end the leave procedures applied at the relocation centers. Within six to twelve months the WRA centers will be closed. Those leaving the centers, if relocating under a WRA approved relocation plan, and whether returning to the West Coast or moving eastward, will be aided in the same general way that relocating evacuees have bee[n] assisted by us in the past.

The satisfactory experience thousands of evacuees have had in re-locating to the Middle West, East, New England and Southeast indicates that many will leave the centers for these areas. In these regions they have found new economic opportunities, new neighbors and friendly communities. In turn, the citizens of their new home towns have found the Nisei and Issei industrious and law-abiding residents, people who like themselves have had sons killed and wounded in action overseas, people who buy war bonds, donate blood to the Red Cross, and support the home front war effort to the utmost.

Among the newspapers most vigorous in defense of the evacuees are those published in the cities, towns and areas where relocation has been most active. These newspapers have come to know and like the new neighbors. They have expressed first bewilderment and then anger over the racist campaign directed against them.....

...The American people expect and have a right to expect that their return will take place naturally and quietly, just as other citizens and law-abiding aliens have been able to move about the country without incident. Most of the residents of California, Washington, Oregon and the evacuated section of Arizona, including responsible public officials, bitterly resent the attempt by anyone to talk and act as if the West Coast is not a part of the United States, but an old-fashioned, comic-opera Balkan kingdom requiring special passports for those who would enter, and restricting the rights of those who enter and remain.

Most West Coast residents fully realize that their states are in every way a part of this indivisible Union, and that all Americans live under a single Constitution. They know, as the racists do not, that the Bill of Rights must be in force in all the states and that it is meant to protect the liberties of all persons, no matter what their race, creed or color.....

...There are still a few on the West Coast who would like to devise some means to exclude those of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast, and in effect nullify the recent action of the War Department and the decision of the Supreme Court. These exclusionists, because they raise false issues and in a limited way create some public confusion about the evacuees, at times have become an administrative problem of the WRA. When I view them in a more detached manner, however, I am overcome with the desire to classify them. My classification places them in four general groups. It might be called a classification by motive, by what moves the members of each group to support exclusion.

First, there is the group which opposes the Japanese Americans for what might be termed ancient and political reasons. This group is led by those who believe they can make political capital and newspaper circulation out of loud abuse of the Nisei and Issei. They openly foster anti-Japanese agitation as they once openly led anti-Chinese agitation. They preach nativism and special codes of self-superiority, a "we-settled-here-first-and-own-everything" philosophy.

These people, the Native Sons of the Golden West, certain segments of the West Coast press, some Grange officials and some American Legion posts, Dr. John Lechner and Jess Eddington, VFW[penciled in remark illegible] Commander at Hood River all peddle un-American racism in a package labeled "old fashioned Americanism."

Everyone admires the heroic frontiersmen and would like to establish some kinship with them, if not by descent then by mental association. The nativists turn this to their advantage. It is as if they said to the gullible: "Support our cause and we will make you a frontiersman for a fee." Such ersatz frontiersmen, I believe, would have been offensive to the original pioneers who fought for and practiced democracy in its truest sense, who weighed a man's worth by what he could do and not by his appearance. For the frontiersman did not open the West to create a new kind of aristocracy, but to escape from an old one.

Second, there is the group made up of well intentioned but misled persons who do not really want to harm anyone, the evacuees or any other group. Just learning to hate, they believe that there is something different about those of Japanese ancestry that makes it impossible for them to be loyal Americans. They imagine therefore that all evacuees are a menace to national security, particularly on the West Coast. The kindlier of them say the Issei and Nisei, even for their own good, would be better off away from the Coast or perhaps out of the country. Fed on the fables kept alive by the other groups, the misled need to be taken off that dangerous diet and given the truth. They need to know the facts about the great majority of America's loyal Japanese, the splendid fighting record of Nisei in the American army, and the manner in which a most of the country condemns discrimination against the evacuees or against any minority. If the misled could be informed of the motives of the exclusionists and race baiters, they would see that they are being led down a treacherous road of racial antagonism and disunity. They would see that after being conditioned to hate one minority, they can be more readily taught to hate other and larger minorities, both racial and religious, then to hate different economic classes of people, and finally, in anger and confusion, to follow demagogues blindly wherever they choose to lead. The tragic experience of Europe has not taught them that it takes hate to make a Hitler.

The third group of exclusionists are stirred to action by economic motives. The fear of lost profits moves them. Here we find some fruit and vegetable growers and distributors working with such organizations or the Remember Pearl Harbor League. These producers did not like the competition of Japanese Americans in agriculture before evacuation and they would like to eliminate that competition forever. Nothing personal about their hatred of the evacuees, you understand. They would take some pains, although by different methods, to squeeze out any racial or economic group that threatened their interests.

No one has made a more revealing statement about the California shipper-growers active in the racist campaign, than one of their own representatives, Mr. Austin Anson, who was sent to Washington after Pearl Harbor by the Shipper-Grower Association of Salinas to lobby for mass evacuation.

He said, and I quote:

"We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We might as well be honest. We do. It's a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown man. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over."

Tokyo could hunt for a year and not find better material than Mr. Anson's quotation to broadcast all over Asia in an attempt to probe that we are fighting in the Pacific and Asia not against Japanese fascism and imperialism, but against Asiatic "brown men."

The fourth and last group are those best described as the red-faced patriots. These are the individuals who took advantage of evacuation to forget that some of them owe money to the evacuees, to damage or destroy their property, to panic them into selling their holdings and equipment in forced sales at ridiculously low prices, to break leases with Issei and Nisei tenants before evacuation, and in other ways to trick and trim them. These artists of sharp practice have guilty consciences, or should have. The red-faced patriots do not want to be confronted by returning evacuees they have wronged, they do not dare to look them in the eye, and so they too support exclusion by one means or another.....

...At this time, there is no need to go into great detail concerning the astounding combat record made by American soldiers of Japanese ancestry. The West Coast press, similar to the press in other parts of the country, has carried stories about the rescue of the lost battalion in France by the 442nd regimental combat team, about Nisei acts of heroism, about casualties they have suffered along with other Yanks wherever the American army fights. Secretary Stimson, in his statement announcing revocation of the mass exclusion order, and the Western Defense Command in its simultaneous announcement, paid tribute to the fighting Nisei.

Nearly 2500 young Japanese Americans have gone from the centers into Army service. Like other Americans, {a few of} those soldiers and their families have paid a price for the nationwide respect now paid to the Nisei battle record. There are Gold Star mothers at every relocation center, and among the other Issei mothers who have relocated. More than 100 {of these} Japanese Americans have been killed in action, 320 wounded and 12 reported missing. These 432 casualties are not merely statistics. They mean War Department telegrams bringing the same sudden tragedy and anxiety to Issei fathers and mothers, to Nisei wives, sisters and brothers, that comes to many other parents and kinsmen throughout the land.

...I would like to call attention to something you undoubtedly have noted, that most West coast residents and the country as whole have condemned as outrageous the acts of discrimination against Japanese American soldiers which took place at Hood River, Oregon; Gardena, California, and Parker, Arizona. The widespread indignation over these incidents reached a climax when Secretary Stimson praised the fighting record of the Nisei and publicly condemned such prejudice. He stated it was "wholly incongruous" that these loyal servicemen should be subjected to "unworthy discrimination."

The average American soldier, no matter what his ancestry, is even more outspoken than most civilians in his resentment of racial prejudice. His conception of what we are fighting for, and what we are not fighting against, is clear and forthright. He gives the lie to the false claims of a minority of noisy racist civilians, who presuming to speak for GI Joe, say that he hates all Japanese faces, whether they belong to loyal Americans or not. These self-appointed and safe civilians, claim returning soldiers will resent the presence of loyal Issei and Nisei and may even do them violence.

This is malicious bunk. I could disprove it by quoting from letters of support sent by soldiers to Pvt. Matsuda, who was ejected from that barber shop in Arizona, or by referring you to praise of Nisei combat groups carried at length in such publications as "YANK", the Infantry Journal, and CBI Roundup, the China-Burma-India theater Army newspaper. However, I think one of the clearest statements of how our boys in uniform feel about their Nisei comrades, how they react to racism, and how confident they are that Americans will defeat racism at home as well as on the battlefield, was recently set forth in the Midpacifican, the armed forces newspaper published in Honolulu. In its editorial, the Midpacifican spoke for GIs in Pacific battle areas. I think it sums up the way in which most American soldiers and fair-minded civilians resent racial prejudice.

There could be no better conclusion than to read this editorial to you. The headline declares: "G.I.'s Hit at Those Who Parrot Racial Ideas of the Enemy."

The Midpacifican editorial states, and I quote:
"Three dispatches just came in from Army News Service. Two will make you proud. One will make you angry.

The first, datelined Washington, reveals that a single A.J.A. division in Italy was awarded 1,000 Purple Hearts. The second, datelined France, reports how the "lost battalion" in the Saint Dies area was rescued by American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought their way through to the trapped men.

The third, datelined Poston, Arizona, tells how a crippled A.J.A. was ejected from a barbershop because the proprietor didn't like his ancestry. The G. I. was Pvt. Raymond Matsuda, 29, from Hawaii. He had served two years with the 442nd combat team in Italy. He wears seven campaign ribbons and decorations, including the Purple Heart.

The action of one ignorant American brings shame to all of us. His ignorance is dangerous. It stabs at the heart of the things for which we fight.

G.I.s who kill Japanese on Pacific battlefronts can tell you why they feel friendship for the A.J.As fighting in Italy. They're brother Americans.

G.I.s who kill Nazis know they continue to like and respect German-Americans now fighting at their side in Europe. They're Americans and buddies.

We don't make war on people because of the color of their skin, or hair, or the shape of their faces or the nationality of their fathers and mothers.

We fight for an idea. And we fight against an idea. We kill fascists because it's our idea that people from every race and of every tongue should keep on living in our country as good neighbors.

We kill fascists because they think their race or blood makes them better than other people.

We fight for our idea because it is the cement that holds democracy together. We fight against the fascist idea because it is the poison that holds our enemies together.

G.I.s know that the only difference between our enemies and our friends is what goes on in their minds.

The ignorant American from Poston, Ariz., is one of a few rotten apples in the big barrel of America. His thinking does not reflect the way America thinks.

He probably doesn't even realize he thinks like our enemies. But he does. Misguided people, such as he, parrot the racial ideas of the Nazis and the Japs. As long as they do, they constitute a menace to our country.

It would be foolish for any G. I. to feel that fascism will be wiped out with the defeat of Germany and Japan.

The job will not be done until all Americans are educated to think and act like Americans.

That's our job, too."

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