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August 11, 2004

Malkin v. the Academe

In response to some sparring between Michelle Malkin and a couple of academics, Lance McCord writes the following:

[Eric] Muller wrote the way that he did because he's a blogger, and a scholar. As a blogger, he's writing what's happening. What was happening in this case was a guy who knows an awful lot about the Japanese-American internment reading a book on that subject, and thinking while he's reading. As a scholar, he's likely more interested best understanding the subject than in winning some ideological point.

Leave aside contrary evidence as to Muller's inclination toward point scoring. Although I've done no controlled studies of the matter, I've a strong suspicion that the great majority of American citizens — particularly those who take an interest in academics' fare — have quite a different impression about scholars' ideological motivation. The existence of a market for Malkin's book about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, which sparked the bickering, ought to be evidence enough that this is so. And frankly, neither McCord's assumption of transcendent interests nor Muller's method of debate is likely to do anything but further the impression.

Consider the outright exhortative tone into which Muller lapses during his first spate of complaints about the book on the Volokh Conspiracy:

When you think of the Japanese American internment, what do you picture? People living in the desolate high desert, in tarpaper barracks, under military guard, right?

Do you know how that happened? Do you know how it happened that Japanese Americans ended up spending years in desert camps under military guard, unable to leave without clearance?

One hears either a breathless aggression in response to verboten dissent or an untempered condescension, or both. Whether or not these qualities of his writing grew from his actual state of mind — and subsequent posts on his own blog suggest that they might — Muller's tone can only remind the public why it has been gradually losing esteem for men and women "of learning." Consider, for example, his emphasis on the speed with which Malkin researched and wrote her book (italics Muller's):

I can't imagine how Michelle--or, indeed, anyone--could have done the primary research necessary to understand the record, let alone "correct" it in the manner the book attempts to do, in five or six years, let alone in one. Especially while doing anything at all in addition to researching the book (such as writing a nationally syndicated newspaper column). To tell the story correctly, a person would need to sift through thousands and thousands of pages of archival material from all over the country and then piece bits together into a coherent story.

What Muller has done, here, is to disallow every stage through which a society interprets its history and applies it to the present except the most exhaustive — and therefore the most exclusive — stage, the one on which he concentrates. I don't think it presumptuous to suggest that there might be a degree of turf-protecting in Muller's approach, and there may be some jealousy at Malkin's likely sales figures. Such reactions are misplaced, and in failing to respect the different roles that people can take, they contribute to general distrust of academics.

Nobody can deny that so-called scholars, who lean overwhelmingly to the Left, have influenced the public perception of the episode of American history at question, and that the perception, in turn, has influenced current policy. Commentary is therefore mandated across the spectrum. Although he quotes a paragraph from Malkin's book saying something different, Mullen harps particularly on the notion that Malkin intends to "correct the record." Perhaps that phrase carries differing connotations in the history biz, but one needn’t rewrite the entirety of something to correct it; pointing to an omission can suffice.

On the other end, nobody will mistake Malkin for an historian. As far as I can tell, it is clear within the book — let alone within the broader context of Malkin's career — that she is a political writer. Coming from political commentary, her emphasis will be on the areas of the complete picture that most affect current policy. And frankly, she will find a lot of public sympathy for her sense that those are precisely the areas in which the "historical narrative" has been most skewed.

Unless they wish to further alienate a populace that already harbors suspicions that professionals who study the past are selective and politically motivated in their work, those experts who believe Malkin's summary to be incorrect and who fear its implications for current policy are going to have to treat her more seriously. If she is so easily dismissed, they should have no trouble incorporating her contrary findings into the pictures that they advance. Forcing the "experts" to do so is, I suspect, a key motivation behind Malkin's book; her genre of writing is more action than review, after all.

ADDENDUM:
If you've not yet hit the end of your interest in this exchange, Mullen responds here, and I address his post here.

Posted by Justin Katz at August 11, 2004 9:36 AM
Culture
Comments

The approach Eric Muller's takes in the second quote is the same kind of attempt to discredit Malkin's book that the Global Warming crowd used against Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

Public misconceptions of historical and contemporary issues are not generated by the primary sources because the public doesn't see them. The misconceptions are created and maintained by the secondary and tertiary sources such as books and newspapers.

Those misconceptions cannot be addressed without addressing the secondary and tertiary sources that bring them to the public.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at August 11, 2004 11:05 AM

You're being too wishy-washy on this. This is not an issue of competing narratives and discourses in which we all respect each other's "roles."

Malkin makes a series of historical assertions regarding Japanese internment. Among them, she claims that "it should be obvious to any fair-minded person that the decisions [to intern 112,000 Japanese citizens and noncitizens] made were not based primarily on racism and wartime hysteria." (P. 80, per Muller.) She outlines the historical support that she claims supports her various historical assertions.

Malkin's historical claims either hold up to scrutiny or they do not. If they do not hold up to scrutiny, Muller is perfectly correct to point that out. Malkin's role as an opinion-maker and political commentator has not been squashed. Malkin's ability to make persuasive arguments regarding the day's events is also intact. Her role as an armchair historian has been quashed, of course-- but, if her history is bad and her arguments lack factual support, rightfully so.*

In other words, it's all well and good for Malkin to "provoke debate" over whether we should rely on racial profiling in the current war on terrorism. It's unacceptable, however, to misrepresent history or the facts (as Malkin allegedly does) in the course of provoking that debate. Not everything is up for grabs.

von

*I'm no expert in the area, but, having read all sides of the exchange, I find Malkin's conclusions regarding Japanese internment to be difficult to square with the facts she, by necessity, must concede.

Posted by: von at August 11, 2004 3:29 PM

But von,

Mullen did more than address Malkin's historical assertions. In fact, it took him until his fourth post on the topic to bring historical considerations into it. In this respect, McCord is correct that the blog-style review was a mistake. However after Malkin had responded, Mullen increased his credibility point-scoring on his own blog.

As I've said: wishy-washy or not, this is the aspect of the debate on which I'm focusing. In a blog entry. Those more qualified to do so (in part, because they've read the book) will debate the historical claims. I may do so in the future. But surely there's a place, particularly toward the beginning of the debate, for suggestions about approach.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 11, 2004 3:56 PM

Mullen did more than address Malkin's historical assertions.

OK -- that's a fair point.

What I fear will be lost in a debate over process, however, is who's right on the history. Malkin's historical claims regarding the motivations for the Japanese internment (or the motivations for the much smaller internments of Germans and Italians, which she addresses in her column today*) don't seem to hold up under scrutiny. (Again, I'm a layperson, and all I have is Muller's critique and Malkin's response.) It is important that we get the history right -- or, at least, as right as we can -- or else there is no point in trying to learn from it. And learning from history is, presumably, what Malkin hopes to accomplish by tying the Japanese internments to the present war on terrorism.

von

*I have no idea why Malkin believes, as a matter of logic, that the lesser internments of Germans or Italians somehow supports the argument that the internment of the Japanese was "not based primarily on racism and wartime hysteria." Might some of the internments be rational and others racists? Might all three be racist? I understand the point she's trying to make but, and I understand that there are people in the blogosphere who think she's making it, but, frankly, I'm utterly unimpressed.

Posted by: von at August 11, 2004 5:18 PM

Mullen did more than address Malkin's historical assertions.

OK -- that's a fair point.

What I fear will be lost in a debate over process, however, is who's right on the history. Malkin's historical claims regarding the motivations for the Japanese internment (or the motivations for the much smaller internments of Germans and Italians, which she addresses in her column today*) don't seem to hold up under scrutiny. (Again, I'm a layperson, and all I have is Muller's critique and Malkin's response.) It is important that we get the history right -- or, at least, as right as we can -- or else there is no point in trying to learn from it. And learning from history is, presumably, what Malkin hopes to accomplish by tying the Japanese internments to the present war on terrorism.

von

*I have no idea why Malkin believes, as a matter of logic, that the lesser internments of Germans or Italians somehow supports the argument that the internment of the Japanese was "not based primarily on racism and wartime hysteria." Might some of the internments be rational and others racists? Might all three be racist? I understand the point she's trying to make but, and I understand that there are people in the blogosphere who think she's making it, but, frankly, I'm utterly unimpressed.

Posted by: von at August 11, 2004 5:19 PM

[already sent this via e-mail, but thought I would post it as well]


I think you apply a double standard to Eric Muller in your post. You
demand that Muller, and the academic profession "treat [Malkin] more
seriously," yet you seem to ignore the snide way that Malkin treats
the academic profession. In an exchange that gets to the heart of the
problems with Malkin's work, Muller accuses Malkin of ignoring recent
scholarship:

"What does Michelle offer to discredit the copiously documented
influences of nativism, economic jealousy, racial stereotyping,
rumor-mongering, and hysteria on the series of decisions that
constituted the program Michelle defends? Nothing. Literally not one
single thing. Not a sentence."

Muller might have done well to make his point, at least as I
understand it, more explicit here. Malkin sets out to demonstrate that
the scholarly community (because of its left leanings) has produced an
inaccurate account of internment, falsely leading the public to
believe it was unjustified and racist. Yet she refuses to ever take
this scholarship seriously enough to engage with it. She doesn't
examine the scholarship on race, and then demonstrate its failings.
She chooses simply to ignore it. Makin's reply makes these errors more
explicit:

"Umm, as I write in the very first paragraph of the introduction to my
book on p. xiii:

If you want to read a book decrying the loss of personal freedom in
wartime America, this is the wrong book. If you want to read a book
about the history of institutional discrimination against minorities
in America, you're out of luck again. Bookstores, library shelves, and
classroom are already filled with pedantic tomes, legal analysis, and
educational propaganda along these conventional lines.

I don't think Eric gets it. My whole book is devoted to debunking the
myth that the evacuation policy was borne of such factors rather than
bona fide national security concerns. I am well aware that there were
nativists and racists on the West Coast, but as I argue in the book,
the decision was made by Roosevelt and his closest military advisors
in Washington DC, where knowledge of MAGIC resided and where homeland
defense, not "nativism, economic jealousy, racial stereotyping,
rumor-mongering, and hysteria" was the paramount concern."

Malkin's respect for academics is so low that she feels no need to
take their arguments seriously even for the purpose of debunking them.
She doesn't explain how historians understand anti-Japanese sentiment
and then demonstrate its inadequacy as a mode of explanation. She
simply ignores it, and instructs her readers that if they are looking
for a book to do that, they are "out of luck again." She accuses these
works of being merely "propaganda," but fails to justify that
statement with much of any argument.

Notice as well the smugness of her tone, which is at least equal to
any pomposity Muller manages in the exchange. She acts, by opening
with "umm" as if her rebuttal is so obvious that Muller must be an
idiot to even ask about it. To suggest that maybe she should have at
least mentioned anti-Japanese racism, or the scholarship about it is
in her account to simply not "get it."

It's perfectly understandable why scholars like Eric Muller and Greg
Robinson might be upset about Malkin's snide dismissal. It's worth
remembering that these people have devoted literally decades to
learning their disciplines and researching internment. Malkin claims
that after a year of research she's learned enough to simply ignore
them.

But, rather than just snort and retreat to their offices, Robinson and
Muller proceed to take her more seriously than she takes them. They
engage her argument, examine her evidence, and try (in my view
successfully) to prove her wrong. The academics it seems score better
on taking the other side seriously than the conservative journalist.

It's also worth pointing out that Muller is no leftist. He is
basically "moderate" in his political views. The website,
www.volokh.com, that his criticisms first appeared on might best be
described as a libertarian blog. Volokh and company frequently post
thoughtful (I would say scholarly) defenses of conservatism that
exceed in fairness, logic and depth anything that Malkin produces in
her exchange.

Malkin's status as "political" doesn't exempt her from basic standards
of research and argument. She needs to do a better job of responding
to arguments in a productive manner. She refuses to do this in her
book, and her online reply seems too smugly self-satisfied to ever
accomplish it.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 11, 2004 5:19 PM

I apologize for the double post.

Posted by: von at August 11, 2004 5:20 PM

Interesting analysis. I think you are oversimplifying Eric's argument about the way Michelle researched her book. Later on he explains that although she used many primary sources, she used sources cherry picked for her by other people instead of going to the actual archives and looking at those sources and all related documents causing her to present a skewed picture of history that supports her arguments. Doing historical research is not easy and is very time consuming and I don't think it's too much to expect someone arguing that internment of a group of people based on their ethnicity be as thorough as possible when they do their research.

Posted by: Shane Wealti at August 11, 2004 5:26 PM

Von, your confusing the evacuation of ethnic Japanese off the West Coast with the internment...

You will find that the numbers of Japanese interned is about the same as the amount of Germans interned, especially when you consider the numbers include the over 5,000 Japanese-American who chose to renounce their American citizenship, became enemy-aliens and were sent to Department of Justice internment camps to await deportation.

Here's a brief description to set the record straight...

“Relocation” and “Internment” are different terms.

“Relocation” refers to voluntary or enforced movement from the West Coast exclusion area to locations in non-effected states from which movement to jobs and schools in other states was arranged. Approximately 9,000 ethnic Japanese relocated voluntarily, 30,000 relocated from centers to other states and 4,300 left centers to attend college.

The civilian War Relocation Authority ran relocation centers. Originally the centers were to be temporary points that evacuees could relocate from, not points that they were to relocate to. This was an admitted failure from the beginning as some uprooted ethnic Japanese didn’t speak fluent English, had few relatives or friends east of the exclusion area and were greeted with hostility from many locals. The alternative was to wait out the war in the centers.

Internment camps were run by the Department of Justice and held only enemy aliens who had been deemed security risks and their U.S. citizen family members who were allowed at their choice to stay with them. Internees included 10,995 Germans, 16, 849 Japanese (5,589 who voluntarily renounced U.S. citizenship and became enemy aliens), 3,278 Italians, 52 Hungarians, 25 Romanians, 5 Bulgarians, and 161 classified as “other”. Only a small fraction of enemy aliens were interned. Japanese citizens with families were sent to Crystal City, Texas and lived side-by-side with German and Italian families. Single men were sent to internment camps in other states. Not all enemy aliens were placed in internment camps, and no American citizen was forcefully placed in an internment camp. If you were interned it was determined that you, a spouse or parent was an enemy alien and a security risk.

It should be noted that all 16,849 Japanese enemy-aliens including the 5,589 that renounced American citizenship were eligible for an apology from the United States and a $20,000 reparations payment while the Germans, Italians, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians received nothing.

You can learn more about German and Italian internment here.

http://www.foitimes.com/internment/

http://hcom.csumb.edu/segreta/

Posted by: Bob at August 11, 2004 6:34 PM

Here are some historical facts (and a little commentary) to go along with the rhetoric....

It is well-documented that the evacuation was motivated, not by racism, but by information obtained by the U.S. from pre-war decoded Japanese diplomatic messages "MAGIC" and other intelligence revealed the existence of espionage and the potential for sabotage involving then-unidentified resident Japanese aliens and Japanese-Americans living within the West Coast Japanese community.

You can read about MAGIC and it's subseqently being ignored by the reparations commission here.


http://www.athenapressinc.com/

The actual declassified MAGIC intercepts are here.

http://www.athenapressinc.com/smithsonian/Appendix3.html


The U.S. Congress immediately passed legislation providing enforcement provisions for FDR's Executive Order, unanimously in both the House and Senate, provided under Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution.

Only persons of Japanese ancestry (alien and citizen) residing in the West Coast military zones were affected by the evacuation order. Those living elsewhere were not affected at all.

It is not true that Japanese-Americans were "interned. Only Japanese nationals (enemy aliens) arrested and given individual hearings were interned. Such persons were held for deportation in Department of Justice camps. Those evacuated were not interned. They were first given an opportunity to voluntarily move to areas outside the military zones. Those unable or unwilling to do so were sent to Relocation Centers operated by the War Relocation Authority.

At the time, the JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) officially supported the government's evacuation order and urged all enemy alien Japanese and Japanese Americans to cooperate and assist the government in their own self interest.

It is misleading and in error to state that those affected by the evacuation orders were all "Japanese-Americans." Approximately two-thirds of the ADULTS among those evacuated were Japanese nationals--enemy aliens. The vast majority of evacuated Japanese-Americans (U.S. citizens) were children at the time. Their average age was only 15 years. In addition, over 90% of Japanese-Americans over age 17 were also citizens of Japan (dual citizens)under Japanese law. Thousands had been educated in Japan. Some having returned to the U.S. holding reserve rank in the Japanese armed forces.

During the war, more than 33,000 evacuees voluntarily left the relocation centers to accept outside employment. An additional 4300 left to attend colleges.

In a questionaire, over 26% of Japanese-Americans of military age at the time said they would refuse to swear an unqualified oath of allegiance to the United States.

According to War Relocation Authority records, 13,000 applications renouncing their U.S. citizenship and requesting expatriation to Japan were filed by or on behalf of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Over 5,000 had been processed by the end of the war.

After loyalty screening, eighteen thousand Japanese nationals and Japanese-Americans were segregated at a special center for disloyals at Tule Lake California where regular military "Banzai" drills in support of Emperor Hirohito were held.

The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Consitutionality of the evacuation/relocation in Korematsu v. U.S., 1944 term. In summing up for the 6-3 majority, Justice Black wrote:
"There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot --
by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight -- now say that at the time these actions were unjustified." That decision has never been reversed and stands to this day.

It should be noted that the relocation centers had many amenities. Accredited schools, their own newspapers, stores, churches, hospitals, all sorts of sports and recreational facilities. They also had the highest percapita wartime birth rates for any U.S.community.

More history for you to consider regarding the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians:

Consider that of the nine commission members, six were biased in favor of reparations. Ishmail Gromoff and William Marutani, relocatees themselves, sat in judgment of their own cases. Arthur Goldberg and Joan Bernstein made sympathetic, pro-reparation statements publicly before hearings even began. Arthur Fleming had worked closely with the JACL (he was a keynote speaker at its Portland convention in the '70s). Robert Drinan was a co-sponsor of the bill establishing the commission.

Consider that notices of when and where hearings were to be held were not made known to the general, non-Japanese public.

Consider that witnesses who gave testimony were not sworn to tell the truth.

Consider that witnesses who were pro-reparation were carefully coached in their testimony in "mock hearings" beforehand.

Consider that witnesses against reparation were harassed and drowned out by foot-stomping Japanese claques, that the commission members themselves ridiculed and badgered these same witnesses.

Consider that not one historian was asked to testify before the commission, that intelligence reports and position papers contrary to reparations were deliberately ignored.

Consider that as a result of the above, the United States Department of Justice objected strongly to the findings of the commission.

Lastly while we've all been educated on the doctrines associated with the rise of Nazism, I would be curious to know if courses are provided teaching the history of the doctrines of Japanese militarism, a belief system similar and equally as insidious as Nazism?

Any clasess on the kokutai? Hakko Ichiu? Any reading of Kokutai no Hongi? Shimin to Michi? The role of Nichiren Buddhism and Japanese "Language Schools" in teaching these doctines of Japanese racial superiorty to ethnic Japanese colonies throughout the word prior to Pearl Harbor?

Those of you learning this history at your public schools and universities should understand you are being taught an extemely biased and partial version of what really happened and why. I would urge you to go beyond the politically correct version of this history as propagated by the Japanese-American reparations movement.

Posted by: Bob at August 11, 2004 6:36 PM

I haven't finished Malkin's book yet, but from what I have read, I'm impressed.

Personally, I don't think the presence of anti-Japanese racism in any way negates the compelling facts she compiles indicating that the threat from both issei and nissei was real, large, and recognized by those making key decisions regarding internment.

While there was a history of anti-Asian racism (yellow peril etc.), the racism of the Japanese is also well known. I know of no rule of nature that says one racist group cannot accurately discern a real and imminent threat from another racist group.

It is a subjective judgment whether the internment was "justified." But when Malkin shows the extent of the espionage, the Japanese submarines shelling the California coast, sinking boats within 15 miles of the coast, and firebombing Oregon forests, you begin to get a sense that the threat was "real," not imaginary as I'd supposed. Even Winston Churchill noted the 5th column of Japanese helping to aid invasions in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. So, Malkin's facts regarding the size, effectiveness, and aims of the Japanese espionage rings sound plausible to me.

Posted by: Meaty Fly at August 11, 2004 6:40 PM

Bob said:
"It is well-documented that the evacuation was motivated, not by racism, but by information obtained by the U.S. from pre-war decoded Japanese diplomatic messages "MAGIC" and other intelligence revealed the existence of espionage and the potential for sabotage involving then-unidentified resident Japanese aliens and Japanese-Americans living within the West Coast Japanese community."

This has been thoroughly debunked by Eric:

2. In regard to who made the decision to evacuate, Malkin claims:

"Greg ignores my discussion of this issue (see pages 76-77), where I cite Army documents demonstrating that DeWitt was following the lead of McCloy, not vice versa. As for DeWitt, I point out that the use of the term "Jap" was common at the time, even among those who opposed the evacuation and relocation of ethnic Japanese (see page 337). Too much has been made of DeWitt's Final Report, which is basically a cover story. The most important reason for the evacuation—MAGIC—was classified at the time and so could not be disclosed until after the war ended."

I am unimpressed by Malkin’s claims that Assistant Secretary McCloy was the leading figure in evacuation, and DeWitt (whose racial bias is well established) merely took orders from him. Even before examining her evidence, it defies credulity in any military system not to rely on the commander on the spot. Indeed, a large part of the reason that mass removal did not take place in Hawaii, where the President and the Secretary of War actively favored it, is that, unlike DeWitt, Hawaiian Commanding General Delos Emmons opposed mass evacuation. (More on that below).

Similarly, if DeWitt had merely been McCloy’s creature, he would not have dared oppose (as he did) McCloy’s effort to back creation of a Japanese American combat unit and McCloy's insistence that Nisei soldiers be allowed in the excluded West Coast zone.

In any case, the evidence she points to is dated February 8 and 11, 1942, comes several days after January 29, 1942 when, as is well established, DeWitt made his demand to the War Department for “evacuation” of both Issei and Nisei. The documents the author cites seem to refer to McCloy’s request that DeWitt provide a specific claim of military necessity for mass evacuation and a plan for effecting it. McCloy remained uneasy about the constitutionality of removing Nisei as well as Issei, and he thus asked DeWitt to come up with something concrete. DeWitt responded on February 14, with his Final Recommendation. The fact that McCloy and Stimson (and Roosevelt, who the author claims directed the case for evacuation) even asked DeWitt for such a showing of necessity effectively rebuts the author’s entire case that removal was based upon the MAGIC cables, since if they were already in possession of the all-important information that DeWitt was not, they would not have needed such a top secret internal justification.

Posted by: Shane Wealti at August 11, 2004 7:02 PM

Greg Robinson successfully demonstrates that the MAGIC decrypts do not provide much evidence of a massive Japanese American spy ring, and that policy was not motivated by those decrypts. If you aren’t persuaded by his arguments over at www.isthatlegal.org, it is doubtful that anything I have to say is going to persuade you. But beyond his reply, I do have some things to say. I will continue to use the term “internment” because the distinction between relocation camps, and internment centers, while important doesn’t change the fact that the popular word for the set of interrelated events in dealing with the Japanese “threat” is internment.

Malkin’s response of ignoring the substantial scholarship on American racial attitudes fails in two interrelated ways.

First, by neglecting to discuss racism, Malkin fails to analyze the possibility that any rumination on the “threat” of Japanese would necessarily be filtered through the lens with which Americans in the early 1940’s saw the Japanese. Dealing with the very alien world past human beings inhabited is what historians generally refer to as putting events “into context.” In the case of the internment of Japanese Americans this “context” was one where segregation was still the norm. It was one of a long history of anti-Japanese and anti-Chinese sentiment on the West Coast. It was a world permeated with ideas about race that few would endorse today.

Consequently to simply not mention this context, no matter how fleshed out by previous scholars, is to fundamentally misrepresent the past world the actors in Malkin’s story worked within. A deep and thorough understanding of American society, and especially the ideas of Americans towards Japanese is absolutely crucial for any volume on internment. When intelligence was being, gathered, selected, decoded and analyzed it was being operated on by people who thought in a particular way, determined by the time in which they lived. To examine the decisions of American military and political leaders without talking about their views of race, is akin to examining Mohammed Atta without understanding his views on Islam.

This gets to Malkin’s second failing; her apparent incapacity to engage in serious historical scholarship. As Thomas Haskell argues in “Objectivity is Not Neutrality,” “The very possibility of historical scholarship as an enterprise distinct from propaganda requires…[the historian to] bracket one’s own perceptions long enough to enter sympathetically into the alien and possibly repugnant perspectives of rival thinkers.” To put the point simply, it is not enough for Malkin to ignore scholarship on race and internment; she must disprove it.

Even if (as Eric Muller and Glen Robinson disprove) the MAGIC cables might have be read to have uncovered a threat possibly worthy of internment (if indeed any threat could warrant that) it still wouldn’t follow that the reason that threat was acted on didn’t rely fundamentally on racism. Even if the most generous description of her point is taken it doesn’t prove her thesis. Why?

A host of scholars have uncovered a generally accepted theory about relations between the state, society, and various ethnic minorities in American history through World War II. That theory is that these relationships were usually fundamentally impacted by views on race. The evidence compiled to prove this theory is so massive it almost boggles the imagination. The evidence specifically on racism towards the Japanese

So, why in the world would the forced internment of an entire ethnic group not have been fundamentally impacted by race? Appeals to “security” won’t cut it because American views on race were fundamental to how they analyzed the potential loyalty of the Japanese (among others) during every conflict in American history. Race also mitigated what kinds of means were deemed appropriate to deal with different aspects of the population. What kind of compelling evidence could possibly make us believe that somehow internment was different?

So even if the MAGIC cables proved a threat from the Japanese it wouldn’t imply that internment was simply motivated by that threat. That threat would have been analyzed in a particular context to which racism would have been fundamental.

Note here the importance of the difference in reaction to German and Japanese spy networks especially. German citizens were given more access to trials, and the ability to naturalize (and hence not be classified as “enemy aliens”) than were the Japanese. The racial attitudes of the time neatly explain this difference and MAGIC does not.

Malkin somehow needs to demonstrate either that a) American society was not as permeated with ideas about race as scholars think or b) that the particular people involved in internment were insulated from the general thinking about race. To do either would require actually engaging the pre-existing scholarship.

A few posters have pointed out the racism of Japanese imperialism. While I can’t account for the general population, this is well known and studied in the scholarly community. I would argue that the Japanese were generally far more brutal in the countries they conquered than internment ever was. How exactly that is germane to the issue at hand is entirely unclear to me. Perhaps it has something to do with the assumption that all current scholarship is “anti-American” and the discussions about race are prefaced on a desire to prove that America is evil. If so, I don’t know how one would go about trying to prove that an entire nation is evil, and I certainly have never attempted to.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 11, 2004 7:08 PM

Michael, there are many who disagree that Robinson had debunked anything...

Let the public read the decrypts and decide for themselves...

http://www.athenapressinc.com/smithsonian/Appendix3.html

As for the "no proof MAGIC had an impact in the decision to evacuate" argument, this is old pro-reparations talk that seeks to belittle the role of MAGIC in general, a belief military historians know to be false.

MAGIC intelligence in its raw form was available to just ten men. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Director of Naval Intelligence Admiral Theodore Wilkinson, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, Army Director of Military Intelligence General Sherman Miles, Chief of Army War Plans General Leonard T. Gerow, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt – they were the only men in a position to make a knowledgeable decision.

To state that no document exists that says, "WE ARE MAKING A DECISION TO EVACUATE BASED ON MAGIC" is disengenuous.

My repsonse to such a charade is "Show the document that states the evacuation was based on "racism, wartime hysteria, and lack of political will."


Regarding the reference to the MAGIC cables in Personal Justice Denied (pp.471-475), the Commision had never even heard of MAGIC intelligence until their report was completed. Shortly after the report was released, David Lowman http://www.athenapressinc.com/ wrote an article in the New York Times that questioned the absence of MAGIC in the report. The commissioners had never heard of it!

Without any expertise whatsoever on the subject of military intelligence in general and MAGIC in particular, the commission's staff quickly "analyzed" MAGIC communications intelligence and reached conclusions about it which were contrary to the opinions of every recognized authority on MAGIC for the last 47 years.

Not long after it was released the mistake-laden addendum so quickly written to cover the commissions ignorance was quietly withdrawn.

And hears the kicker. The mistake-laden addendum written up after the report produced by people who had never even heard of MAGIC and had absolutely no authority to comment officially on it is the same stuff being provided as "extraordinary detail" from Personal Justice Denied (P.471-475) - WORD FOR WORD!

To summarize, p.471-475 was never a part of the original report and you'll not find it in original versions of the report. That it exists in later volumes today after the commission originally withdrew it after admitting how ridiculous it is only serves to continue to undermine the credibilty of the circus known s the Commission on Wartime Internment and Relocation of Civilians.

Now to the worn out attempt at villifying General DeWitt's "a Jap's a Jap" comment. First of all, DeWitt's report was entirely for public consumption and in fact justified many of the fears that existed in the general populace. The comment was also for the consumption of the Empire of Japan, for the Americans had to justify the mass evacuation of 120,000 people without letting the enemy no their diplomatic and military codes had been compromised.

The plan worked flawlessly. The Empire of Japan immediately used the evacuation for propoganda purposes (like today's reparations movment), but knowledge of Japan's codes being broken was never revieled.

Unfortunatley, DeWitt's comments are now bandied about and taken entirely out of historical context.

The reality is Japan's knowledge that Japanese were held in America saved the lives of Allied civilians held by the Japanese under much harsher conditions. POW's weren't so lucky.

Finally, if you choose to make no distinction between the internment of enemy aliens under the Alien Law of 1798 and the evacuation of ethnic Japanese out of the wartime military zones, you are mistating the history and confusing people.

Out of time for now....

Want to read some cool FBI documents on Japanese-American groups?

Check this out.....

http://www.internmentarchives.com/

See ya,

Bob

Posted by: Bob at August 11, 2004 7:38 PM

Michael,

While the existence of a threat doesn't prove the absence of racist motives, the presence of racism doesn't prove the act wasn't motivated due to perception of a threat.

If we are going to put things into their "context," some honesty is in order, starting from the obvious fact that racism has been prevalent in virtually all cultures.

Races have and do pose threats to one another, and the instinctual distrust human groups have toward "aliens" or "gaijin" is tied to the fact that aliens and gaijin have tended to harm one another.

You bring up the good point that racist attitudes may have informed Roosevelt's perception of the degree of threat. That's entirely possible. But it is also possible that the degree of threat was higher precisely because the Japanese were of a different race. Not just a different race, but a race glued tightly together by extremely durable cultural bonds.

Moreover, given that the racist Japanese were a minority in a racist white America, it seems reasonable to wonder how strong their loyalties were to America. Malkin provides a wide range of evidence, from America-based Japanese language newspapers, to shinto-priest led Japanese schools, to countless "kais" or organizations expressing loyalty to Japan. As someone who has lived among the Japanese for many years, I don't find any of this surprising.

Finally, you are not addressing the fact that 31,275 citizens of Axis countries were interned, 11,229 Japanese; 10,905 Germans; 3,278 Italians etc. You aren't addressing the fact that all countries in the war interned enemy aliens EXCEPT the Japanese who did not seem to regard "Japanese Americans," many of whom fought for Japan, as "aliens." You ignore the fact that the U.S. interned 6,300 German, Austrian, Greek, Dutch, French, and Belgian born citizens during WWI, and even interned people in the war of 1812.

Lastly, you ignore Title 50 of the U.S. Code that authorizes such action in a time of war and is still on the books today (enacted in 1798).

When you consider the size of the threat and the consistency with which Title 50 has been applied over time and during WWII, the notion that it was solely or even primarily race-based in motive seems less plausible. At the very least, Malkin's book brings into focus an aspect of the period too often neglected.

Posted by: Meaty Fly at August 11, 2004 8:05 PM

“While the existence of a threat doesn't prove the absence of racist motives, the presence of racism doesn't prove the act wasn't motivated due to perception of a threat. “

The evidence I’m speaking of isn’t just the presence of racism. It’s the entire history of dealings with the Japanese (and every other group deemed “non-white), which leads me to believe the probability is high that the response was in large part determined by attitudes towards race. When internment is viewed within this context it appears consistent with the long history of race relations in the American west and beyond. This history is my evidence. Drawings of Japanese as monkeys, attempts to explain to citizens the difference between Japanese and Chinese, and the longstanding legal persecution of people of Japanese and Chinese ancestry in the west demonstrate my argument.

“If we are going to put things into their "context," some honesty is in order, starting from the obvious fact that racism has been prevalent in virtually all cultures.”

I explicitly noted views of race in imperial Japan. However, lets be a little careful with the term “racism.” You can’t have racism if you don’t have a conception of race. “Virtually all cultures” do not have a biological conception of race. That’s not to say they don’t have insiders, outsiders and bigotry, it’s just to say the racism is a specific form of bigotry that requires specific ideas.

As to our claim about former residents of Japan who lived in America viewing Americans as an enemy race surrounding them to be undermined, their choice to live in America would seem to mitigate against that. If they wanted to purge America of whites, Japan would have been a fine choice of places to live. Additionally their demonstrated patriotism in fighting against Japan in World War II makes that seem implausible.

By this logic should African Americans have been interned as well? The MAGIC cables point to attempts to recruit them. Certainly African Americans had reason to be angry about oppression.

But this is not relevant to my point. I have claimed that Malkin would need to address racism in a significant way, and then debunk it to prove that internment was not largely caused by views on race.

“Finally, you are not addressing the fact that 31,275 citizens of Axis countries were interned, 11,229 Japanese; 10,905 Germans; 3,278 Italians etc. You aren't addressing the fact that all countries in the war interned enemy aliens EXCEPT the Japanese who did not seem to regard "Japanese Americans," many of whom fought for Japan, as "aliens." You ignore the fact that the U.S. interned 6,300 German, Austrian, Greek, Dutch, French, and Belgian born citizens during WWI, and even interned people in the war of 1812. “

No, actually I specifically made reference to the campaigns in dealing with German citizens. I noted that they were entirely different, as one might expect, despite the fact hat German “enemy aliens” often really had chosen to be “aliens” whereas the Japanese “enemy aliens” had not.

“Lastly, you ignore Title 50 of the U.S. Code that authorizes such action in a time of war and is still on the books today (enacted in 1798). “

Yes, the history of “Title 50” better known when combined with the Sedition acts as the “Alien and Sedition Acts” is very interesting. Essentially it was created in an attempt by the Federalists to undermine the Republicans by restricting immigration and prosecuting dissent. I’d be very careful about allying myself with that code.

But again, this doesn’t affect my argument at all. Whether or not it was legal is not my point. My point is that Malkin utterly fails, due to her approach, to disprove a racism oriented account of internment.

“At the very least, Malkin's book brings into focus an aspect of the period too often neglected.”

Actually MAGIC has been thoroughly debated and discredited by scholars. John Herzig wrote and article in the 1984 in Amerasia Journal entitled "Japanese Americans and MAGIC” that systematically debunked them.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 11, 2004 9:32 PM

John Herzig is the husband of Aiko Herzig, Aiko having worked as a principal researcher and staff member for the commission and who supposedly found the "compelling evidence" in the Corum Nobis cases of the 1980s (as if the Ringle memo was somehow hidden and she magically came across it).

This "new compelling evidence" somehow idicted the U.S. Government of hiding the true motives of the evacuation.

That story in itself is a farce, but I digress.

Lt. Col. John Herzig who spent the vast majority of his testimony before the commission attempting to slime David Lowman and was subsequently blasted for it by Congressman Sam Hall.

There's a conflict of interest with John Herzig.

Suffice to say David Lowman as the National Security Agency Executive given the task of declassifying the MAGIC intercepts is much more credible than Lt. Col. Herzig, who only spent some time in military intelligence after the war and had a Japanese-American wife as the principal researcher for the commission....

As Lowman wrote later, "In direct contradiction to every authority involved in MAGIC and every World War II historian who looked at the messages in question, Herzig insisted that the MAGIC messages really didn't mean what they said, and, in any event were not at all important..."

As an aside, Lowman also writes, "There is no doubt that if Representative Sam Hall had remained chairman of the subcommittee handling Japanese reparations, H.R. 442 would never have reached the floor of the House. But he was appointed to a federal judgeship, and Barney Frank, a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, became the chairman."

Federal judgeship? A coincidence? Twist of fate?

We'll never know...

Posted by: Bob at August 11, 2004 10:37 PM

The problem is you dwell on American propoganda characterizing Japanese as "monkeys", but ignore the same propoganda characterizing Germans and "bloodthirsty barbarians"...

You claim racism was the a motive for the evacuation yet you ignore that Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos were not evacuated.

If anything the evacuation was based on national origin...

You claim American immigration laws targeted only non-whites yet fail to acknowledge that various anti-immigration (1923)laws specifically targeted Europeans countries sending uneducated workers who would work for half the wages of American workers.

American Unions advocated immigration controls to protect their workers.

As for the various country of origin restrictions (1929 for example), a question to consider is this....

Does a country have the right to limit the mass immigration of peoples from a culture inherently different from its own?

I can assure you the vast majority of ethnic Japanese in the world would give a resoundng YES!

While the various country of origin laws may seem "racist" today, 100 years ago when Whites constituted the vast majority of people in America, it made good sense....

In fact in Japan today it still makes good sense....

Problem with people who play the race card is after a while the stinging stops...

Posted by: Bob at August 11, 2004 10:54 PM

Michael,

The government has interned people associated with enemies of war in the war of 1812, WWI, and WWII. WWII simply follows an established pattern backed by statutory authority. In WWII, the government interned people associated with all axis nations.

All of the internment events share one thing in common: the interned individuals were associated in one way or another with a military enemy in a time of war.

Yet you claim that the internment of Japanese in WWII cannot be understood without reference to racism. Can the internment of Germans and Italians be understood without reference to racism?

Race is not needed to explain the internment. America has always done this to people of all races in times of war. The fact that one of the groups happened to be of another race does not suddenly make the internment entirely or primarily racist in nature. That might be true if there was no known threat, but the threat was known and grave. Multiple races were interned. Your theses seems to be lacking something. Perhaps I'm missing your point?

Posted by: Meaty Fly at August 11, 2004 10:59 PM

"Multiple races were interned. Your theses seems to be lacking something. Perhaps I'm missing your point? "

Yes, you are. My point is that Malkin's approach prevents her from proving her thesis that internment wasn't based on racism and wartime hysteria.

You seem to be drifting into a debate over the validity of reparations via a comparative history of internments, which is a separate issue. I have opinions on that, but I very specifically chose a narrow thesis I thought I could prove for my points here. So long as you agree with me that the context of racial bias twoards Japanese is crucial to any history or "defense" of internmnet, it seems to me that you largely agree with the thesis I've presented here.

In terms of a larger point in this particular debate, I'm actually considering turning some of my thoughts presented here (and formulated for other reasons) into a more cogent account of the problems of the Argumentum ad Hominem on both the left and the right. I think Malkin's reason for her error has to do with an ad Hominem attack on academia that mirrors attacks from the left in interesting ways. I think there are good and bad ways to go about this, and Malkin is a good example of a bad way (W. E. B. Du Bois's attack on the Dunning school of reconstruction is my current thought for a good example).

If you want to carry on a debate of comparative internments and racisms, we should probably do it somewhere else, as I think we are drifting away from the original debate (a debate over methods of attack levied against Malkin). I don't like putting my good e-mail on the web, so e-mail the address with this reply, and I'll be happy to get back to you on that (interesting and complicated) topic.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 11, 2004 11:28 PM

Her thesis isn't that it wasn't based on racism but rather that it was based on the recognition of a genuine security threat. She makes a very strong argument that the security threat was (1) well recognized and (2) significant.

Her theory accounts for why internment has been used in each of the wars cited and why it was used against people associated with each axis country (as well as the enemy nations in WWI and the war of 1812). In each case, there was a genuine threat of espionage during a time of war. Your theory requires a different explanation for all the other internments. THOSE would be based on a legitimate threat, presumably, while the Japanese internment was just racist hysteria, never mind the fact that Japan was a bigger threat in real terms than either Germany or Italy and Japan had actually attacked both the West Coast and Hawaii.

That strikes me as stretching the limits of probability.

Posted by: Meaty Fly at August 12, 2004 1:18 AM

"Her thesis isn't that it wasn't based on racism but rather that it was based on the recognition of a genuine security threat. "

From Malkin's book:

"it should be obvious to any fair-minded person that the decisions made were not based primarily on racism and wartime hysteria" (page 80).

Other internment would only be relevant if both things were true of them:

a) they target an entire ratial group (as, to use Malkin's flawed term, "evacuation" did)

b) racism wasn't part of the reasons for the internment.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 12, 2004 9:12 AM

" never mind the fact that Japan was a bigger threat in real terms than either Germany or Italy and Japan had actually attacked both the West Coast and Hawaii."

I suppose you got this idea from Malkin's book. Germany had a much more developed espionage organization than Japan, and at least equal desire to use it. There were German nationalists in the U.S., and more military installations on the East Coast than the West. Germany managed a highly succesfull submarine operations of the of the East Coast during the war that dwarfed anything Japan conducted off the West Coast.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 12, 2004 9:32 AM

Bob --

On the issue of Japanese/German/Italian "evacuations" and "internments": I think that your adoption of the term "evacuation," though perhaps historically accurate at a superficial level, is highly misleading with respect to what actually occurred. And you did not address Malkin's logical fallacy, which was the point of my (second, double) post -- indeed, you seem to embrace it.*

As for your factual contentions, I can only reiterate that I am not an expert in the field. As an educated layperson, however, I do find Muller's criticisms of Malkin's work persuasive, and Malkin's retort to be filled with apparent logical gaps and non sequitors.

von

*I.e., " have no idea why Malkin believes, as a matter of logic, that the lesser internments of Germans or Italians somehow supports the argument that the internment of the Japanese was "not based primarily on racism and wartime hysteria." Might some of the internments be rational and others racists? Might all three be racist? I understand the point she's trying to make but, and I understand that there are people in the blogosphere who think she's making it, but, frankly, I'm utterly unimpressed."

Posted by: von at August 12, 2004 11:38 AM

Von,

Executive Order 9066 was an evacuation order.

If the government is compelled to evacuate 120,000 people then the government naturally is going to have an obligation to initally provide some type of accomidation for those people unable or unwilling to make arrangements on their own.

Can you imagine what would have happened if the government had evacuated all those people and dumped them off at the border of the military zones without providing for them?

If that had happened, we'd now be debating how the government left these people high and dry, dumping them off at the doorstep of a racist and violent American public to fend for themselves.

The evacuation, and the management of the Relocation Centers were seperate.

You support Muller's comments because that's what you want to believe. Historians are supposed to use cold objectivity to the point of callousness. The reason the pro-reparations folks have been so successful in revising this history for the last twenty years is they argue based on emotion, attempting to appeal on emotion in order to elicit a knee-jerk reaction from those who have little if any knowledge of the history.

As for your comment that somehow the Japanese were interned for "racist reasons" and the Germans and Italians for "cause", the common denominator is all people interned were enemy aliens of Axis nations at War with the United States who were considered security risks and their American citizen dependants who chose voluntarily to be interned with them.

Posted by: Bob at August 12, 2004 12:30 PM

Bob --

As for the term "evacuation," I am disputing your use of the term to describe the forced movement of the 120,000 Japanese citizens and noncitizens from the Western Coast. The ordinary dictionary definition of the term does not fit the facts.

As for supporting Muller's comments because it's "what I believe": Belief has nothing to do with it. (Is there some sort of Malkin-defending reading list that begins with Derrida and works through the deconstructionists?*) Malkin sets out a thesis. She sets forth facts that purportedly support her thesis. These facts either fit the thesis or they do not. If the facts do not fit the thesis, we can say that the thesis is wrong or, at best, unlikely to be correct.

Based on Muller's critique, and judging from Malkin's response to Muller's critique, Malkin has not established that the facts fit her thesis. She argues that X had to occur this way because of Y, but doesn't explain why this is necessarily so -- and there are myraid reasons why it would not be so. She infers that X was in charge of the "evacuation" when, in fact, the presumption would ordinarily be that Y was in charge of the "evacuation," and she doesn't explain why the presumption is overcome in this instance. She says that she didn't consider what effect, if any, racism had on the decision to "evacuate" the Japanese not on the basis that such racism didn't exist -- she seems to concede that it did -- but that she didn't want to write that kind of book.

I'm sorry, this is shoddy thinking. It shouldn't get a pass. And we shouldn't elevate it into some kind of "battle of viewpoints" in which each viewpoint gets equal respect.

It is possible that someone will someday be able to write a book that challenges the orthodoxy on this issue.** Malkin hasn't done it.

von

*And not understanding them well, it appears.

**It bears remembering that the orthodoxy is frequently the orthodoxy for a reason, i.e., it's right.

Posted by: von at August 12, 2004 2:41 PM

Von,

I could not find one historical fact in your entire post. It's all rhetorical opinion....

Posted by: Bob at August 12, 2004 5:48 PM

We are in the middle stages of a national debate about proper disposition of a perceived fifth column during wartime.

How will we deal with our muslim minority should nuclear devices be detonated in our cities by muslim extremists with the help of the local muslim population?

Genocide? Expulsion? Closing the Mosques? Gujarit style riots with entire muslim populations lynched? The American Muslim population might be glad to have a detention camp to go to.

Bending over and handing them the vasiline is not an option for many Americans; I would say for MOST armed Americans (80,000,000). After nuclear attacks with a proven local muslim connection, what should the government do? If the government action is ineffective (i.e., more nuclear attacks, or multiple suicide style or apartment attacks of the sort that Chechen jihadis perpetrated in Moscow, or even sporadic muslim riots or rebellions), elements of the non muslim American citizenry will assuredly take violent action.

This needs to be debated now, so as to take the least ugly but still effective action. The muslims are not the Japanese, and this is not 1940.

The cure for too much free speech is more free speech.

God help us reach the right decision.

Posted by: Bruce Dearborn Walker at August 13, 2004 11:20 AM

"I could not find one historical fact in your entire post. It's all rhetorical opinion...."

rhet·o·ric Audio pronunciation of "rhetoric" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (rtr-k)
n.

1.
1. The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.
2. A treatise or book discussing this art.
2. Skill in using language effectively and persuasively.
3.
1. A style of speaking or writing, especially the language of a particular subject: fiery political rhetoric.
2. Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous: His offers of compromise were mere rhetoric.
4. Verbal communication; discourse.

Given this definition, what in the world is a "rhetorical opinion"?

I think Von was using logic. Here is a definition of logic:

log·ic Audio pronunciation of "logic" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ljk)
n.

1. The study of the principles of reasoning, especially of the structure of propositions as distinguished from their content and of method and validity in deductive reasoning.
2.
1. A system of reasoning: Aristotle's logic.
2. A mode of reasoning: By that logic, we should sell the company tomorrow.
3. The formal, guiding principles of a discipline, school, or science.
3. Valid reasoning: Your paper lacks the logic to prove your thesis.
4. The relationship between elements and between an element and the whole in a set of objects, individuals, principles, or events: There's a certain logic to the motion of rush-hour traffic.
5. Computer Science.
1. The nonarithmetic operations performed by a computer, such as sorting, comparing, and matching, that involve yes-no decisions.
2. Computer circuitry.
3. Graphic representation of computer circuitry.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 13, 2004 1:28 PM

Michael,

Your post also failed to provide one historical fact.

Rhetorical: adj. "Concerned primarily with style or effect."

Opinion: n. "A belief, conclusion or or judgment not substantiated by positive knowledge for proof."

Put another way, the posts are convoluted and dealing in the abstract while ignoring historical evidence that is needed to support what you are saying. If I were debating this issue from your side of the spectrum, I could still find evidence to support it to some extent, even if I were to disagree with the ultimate conclusions...

By the way, here is my definition of

History: n. "A chronological record of events."

As far as the posts from Von or you, I haven't seen it.

Posted by: Bob at August 13, 2004 2:38 PM

"Rhetorical: adj. "Concerned primarily with style or effect."

Opinion: n. "A belief, conclusion or or judgment not substantiated by positive knowledge for proof.""

Now, Bob, let's perform a little excercise. What would a "rhetorical opinion" be? An opinion about "style and effect?" So you think Von has just been posting opinions about style and effect?

You can accuse me all you want of not providing facts. I have provided a few, but what I've been concerned with providing more of is argument. Specifically I've claimed that Malkin's approach to history is flawed. The facts that support this are Malkin's statements. I then use reason to derive conclusions about them. From your posts I've noticed conspiracy theories, semantic games, and ad hominem attacks, but very little in the way of argument.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 13, 2004 4:02 PM

A rhetorical opinion would be a conclusion not subsantiated by positive knowledge or proof that is written with effective style...

ie, sounds good, but no substance.....

You need to argue based on some type of substance, not rhetoric....

In nutshell, what is historically flawed with Malkin's book? What is your source? Robinson? Muller?

As for comments on my posts, I'm not attacking nor am I involved in (HA! HA!) conspiracy theories.

I've provided historical facts based on primary sources and have been researching this history since 1989...

Much of the primary information has been conveniently provided for easy reading here...

Have you checked it out? Read the documents?

http://www.internmentarchives.com/

I don't need this history filtered through Robinson nor Muller (or Malkin for that matter) to come to my own conclusions...

Posted by: Bob at August 13, 2004 4:46 PM

People of the same or similar races have been killing one another for as long as history records. And let's face facts; wars have a tendency to make the people of the warring sides to not like one another. Yet Muller and Robinson would have us believe that just because people from a belligerent nation living in the United States who 1) have documented divided loyalties like dual citizenships, 2) are educated in nationalistic schools financed and run by their "mother" country, and 3) hold to a faith that teaches of their divine and holy destiny (Shinto), would automatically have allegiance to the US and not the land of their parents birth? The evidence is there, Imperial Japan weaponized her expatriate populations, and when the opportunity presented itself very large segments (i.e. majority) of those populations assisted the Empire. Both Robinson and Muller refuse to acknowledge or address this on a logical or historical basis. They both fail to consider the real world ramifications of their stance which is preventing them from addressing the very real danger that wants to display our severed heads on video.

And Honestly, Eric Muller is not a scholar he's a lawyer. Both his book and his critiques of the 1942 Evacuation Order reflect his "legal brief" mentality, spray a bunch of stuff out there, hope no one looks too hard at the substance, and pray something sticks. Scholarship is like detective work, outliers do not by themselves disprove the main thesis because one must look at the totality of the record; however, for a lawyer to point to outliers can bring reasonable doubt - the truth isn't his concern, winning his case is.

Posted by: Sparkey at August 14, 2004 5:55 PM

Great comment, Sparkey, especially regarding Muller being a lawyer.

It reminds of this quote provided after "Personal Justice Denied" was released.....

"The report Personal Justice Denied strikes me as essentially in the form of a legal brief rather than a history. Historical information in this brief serves a specific purpose--------to present the case against the government in the most favorable light. Such an approach means that factual information is selected to serve the interest of the client. It means also that the facts are ordered and interpreted so as to provide the best support for the client. All is calculated to support the conclusion that the government denied personal justice to those interned during World War II. Facts and arguments that might tend to support a contrary conclusion are either excluded or rejected."
Dr David Trask, Chief Army Historian.


Posted by: Bob at August 14, 2004 6:18 PM

I've made an argument, which as far as I can tell hasn't been significantly engaged with or disproven. In order to do this, one would have to do more than cite web pages, and insert random facts with elipses after them. One would have to specify how those facts work together to prove my argument wrong.

Additionally, one can produce an argument from correct facts that reaches an incorect conclusion. Consequently, critiques of argument as usually not, and indeed cannot be merely an engagement with the correctness of facts. A critique can (and generally should) engage with how those facts are put together, what the overall approach and argument is, and whether that can prove the thesis.

But two smaller points:

"A rhetorical opinion would be a conclusion not subsantiated by positive knowledge or proof that is written with effective style..."

People don't hold opinions because of "A style of speaking or writing, especially the language of a particular subject: fiery political rhetoric." So an opinion can't be rhetorical, expect in so far as someone might have an opinion about styles of language. An opinion expressed through "rhetoric" is exactly what the term "rhetoric" by itslef is supposed to signify (as in "empty rhetoric"). Rhetorical opinion has no meaning, aside from possibly meaning an opinion about rhetoric.

"As for comments on my posts, I'm not attacking nor am I involved in (HA! HA!) conspiracy theories."

"Federal judgeship? A coincidence? Twist of fate?

We'll never know..."

wow...that sounds like a conspiracy theory to me...

and finally:

"And Honestly, Eric Muller is not a scholar he's a lawyer."

No. Eric Muller is a legal scholar. His occupation is to teach students about the law, research the law, and write about the law.

Posted by: Michael Benson at August 15, 2004 2:56 PM