Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roger Daniels Interview III
Narrator: Roger Daniels
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 26, 2013
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-416

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is Wednesday, June 26, 2013. We're in Seattle in the Densho studios, and we're going to begin the third interview with Roger Daniels. On camera is Dana Hoshide, and interviewing is Tom Ikeda, that's me. So, Roger, at the end of interview two, we had just finished talking about the publication of Concentration Camps USA and your move from the University of Wyoming to SUNY Fredonia. So this is about the year of 1971. So let's first talk about why you went to SUNY Fredonia. What was your position at SUNY and what responsibilities did you have?

RD: Well, we knew, after we got to Wyoming -- which in many ways I loved. I immediately became very much involved in campus affairs, enjoyed my teaching, enjoyed my colleagues. But the pay was very poor. They had TIAA, but it only covered a portion of your salary, because they have to match it. And the public secondary schools in Laramie were not places I would want my children to go to. And Richard was in the first grade and Sarah was in kindergarten. It was wonderful; our house was in the middle of one block, half a block to the right was the school that Richard went to, half a block to the left was the school where Sarah went to, so that was very good. And the elementary teachers were mostly wives of faculty who were imported, who had come in and been trained elsewhere. I mean, one of her teachers had an M.A. in education from University of Chicago, Richard's teacher had an M.A. from Berkeley, or vice versa. They were good people. But the junior high and the high school were run by local people who represented much of what was awful about Wyoming. The vice principal of the junior high school, for instance, introduced himself to me at a public meeting in which I was the chair, so I was involved in many such things, and assured me that, "Although we've got a lot of" -- and he used a pejorative term for Mexican Americans -- "in the school this year, we'll run most of them out by Christmas. You don't need to worry about that, it'll be a white school." And there was no way I was going to do that. There wasn't a private school in the whole state of Wyoming, so our thought was that if we stayed there, we would have to send our kids to boarding school in Colorado, and we didn't like that particular idea. And we knew that we were approaching a decision, but we had five or six years, we weren't doing anything about it at all.

But hard on the publication of the Concentration Camps book, I began to get feelers from various people. And the university, the distinguished historian in the department at SUNY Fredonia, whom I did not know, contacted me at a history meeting and asked if I would be interested in coming there. I said I would be, and he said, "Well, I'll talk to people." And by the time I got back, there was an airmail special delivery letter -- there was no email in 1971 -- from the dean asking would I come. "We want you to come." I was already a full professor so it had to be that, and that they wanted me to be chair of the department. And I went out there and had a very successful interview. There was no PhD program there and that didn't bother me too much. And the pay was very, very good. I'll tell you a funny story about that. We got there, we'd moved in, and I bring the first paycheck home and I give it to Judith. I go to do something, and she comes to where I was reading or doing something and says, "Roger," she said, "I thought we were making a lot more money, that's what you said." I said, "Yes, we are." She said, "But this is only," she named a very small sum, "only more than the checks we used to get at Laramie." I said, "Judith, they pay every two weeks here." So that despite the high taxes in New York, it was a good deal of money. And Fredonia was, despite the terrible weather, not as bad as Buffalo, but an awful lot of snow. We weren't in the snow belt, which in that part of the country it depends on your altitude. If we got an inch of snow, three quarters of a mile up the road and maybe five hundred feet up, they'd get a foot. But it was that kind of thing, there were very much mini climates. But we liked it in many ways, very, very much.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Earlier, in an earlier interview, you talked about when you were a graduate student, you had a plan to first do the immigration of Japanese up to 1924, and then when documents became available, cover through the incarceration period. And with the completion of both the Politics of Prejudice and then Concentration Camps USA, you essentially completed your initial plan when you were a younger man. And so at this point, what were you thinking? What was your career path now that you had accomplished those early plans?

RD: Well, I thought I was done with that. I had a number of other things I wanted to do. I'd published my first book with Harry Kitano, I assumed it was my last. I was interested in immigration, I was interested in Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, I was interested in a lot of things. But with two books out, I was suddenly the most visible active scholar writing, and suddenly publishers and institutions were asking me to do this, do that, and the other thing. And within five or six years I was pretty well established as a specialist in not just Japanese Americans, but in Asian Americans. And I began to think about the whole question of the field and what the field needed. And it needed more exposure and more information. So one of the things that I did was arrange with a subsidiary of the New York Times, the Arno Press, to put out a series of some forty-odd books, reprint editions. And it was very simple. I just identified the book, and they got a good copy and printed from it. And they came out in a uniform red binding, you've seen a number of those because they're in Densho's library. But what these did was put all kinds of source material, either early work, unpublished dissertations, or government documents which were almost impossible to get. For example, I was given, back in 1960, by a man named Guy Caulden, who was a Berkeley attorney who had a retainer. It was really from the Japanese consulate, but it was arranged through the association, as per advice on the alien land laws, he published a little book on the alien land laws. I have it, you have it now, and he also arranged for the Japanese consulate to publish two volumes of documents, legal documents, about Japanese Americans, and that was one of the things, he gave me a set of that stuff. And it's very rare and very few libraries have it, so here they were reprinted, and all these things would be in libraries all over. I included General DeWitt's report, the Final Report that was so crucial for redress, so there'd be copies of it all over. I had them reprint the Tolan Committee's reports, and this meant that students doing research papers in university libraries could have all these materials handy which were not generally available. I don't know how many people over the years have come up and told me, scholars have told me how useful it was to have this kind of material.

And eventually, the other thing that kept happening was that people started coming to me for advice, younger scholars, the most important of whom was Sucheng Chan, who I met at about that time. And this was another thing that kept propelling me into it. People would put together a panel on some aspect of Asian American history, and in many cases either they or the arrangers would want me to comment on them, so I did. So I met a lot of younger scholars and commented on their work. I remember when I met Sucheng, and there were three or four papers, and I'm reading them in order, in a certain order, and it happened hers was the last. And the first three, each one was more mediocre than its predecessor. And then I came to this thing, which was just incredible. She's a person without formal historical training. She had a lot of work in social science, she knew all kinds of things, and it was a brilliant piece of work. It needed some structuring and this sort of thing, but it was clear that this was a major talent, and she was already seriously disabled from post-polio syndrome. So that I was able to help a number of younger people, and eventually decided that Sucheng didn't need that much help. And her book This Bittersweet Soil about the Chinese contribution to California's agriculture, is really a landmark, a major work in the revision of the so-called history of Chinese Americans, which largely didn't exist as professional history. So there was that. And by the time I spent five years at Fredonia, and expected to spend the rest of my life there, it was very congenial, and did a stint as chair and got out of that, so now I was a full professor. It was not a heavy teaching load. And quite happy, kids happy, a good public school system. And then the gas crisis came in the Nixon administration. And Fredonia had really benefited from the fact that a lot of well-to-do kids from Long Island whose parents didn't have enough money to send them to Ivy League schools and wanted to get them out of the city, they could go up there, and they could get back weekends if they had to. Fredonia is a very small town, and close to a slightly bigger small industrial city and port named Dunkirk. But not exactly the place that young people like to be. [Laughs] And the gas crisis made it impossible to do that, and it changed the whole structure of the school and the kind of students we were getting, and caused them to crunch back on the history department. And they were going to get rid of several young scholars who did not yet have tenure, including one who had just won the annual prize for the best first book by an American historian. And I had a big blowup and attacked the dean who had organized all this in the student newspaper, and told the administration that if they wanted a line, they could have mine. They'd save one of these jobs, I wanted to save two and couldn't.

And I put the word out that I wanted a job, and I immediately got some nibbles, the nicest of which came from... well, actually, to be frank, Cincinnati had asked me to apply for its chair, they were looking for a head of the department. And I'd said, "No, I'm not interested, I'm quite happy here." And when this happened I called up the person who had asked me and said, "Is that headship still open?" He said, "Yes, we're still searching." I said, "Well, if you're interested, I'm interested." And there were two offers I looked at. One down at TCU, which did not seem to be a place I wanted particularly to be, and the other was Cincinnati, which looked very good. So I went out there, and then they paid for Judith and I to go out there so she could see the place, and we agreed to go. And that's a long, complicated story.

But by this time, I was already very well-established in the profession, beginning to be able to pretty well call my own shots. And one of the things I did, although it took a little while to get started, was to arrange with University of Illinois Press to create a series of monographs in Asian American history of which I would be the general editor. We would recruit manuscripts and we'd accept manuscripts that came to us. And my hope was -- and I wanted very high standards -- at the same time Sucheng was starting a series at Temple University Press, and she was really interested in getting a lot of books out fast. And I was a little more conservative, and I hoped to get twelve, maybe eventually get a dozen first class monographs done. And I'd do this for a few years. They didn't start coming out until the '80s. But when I stepped down two years ago, thirty-three books had been published, and one will be published later this year. The last one will be published later this year, which is a biography of Joe Kurihara.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: I was going to ask later in the interview about this, but since we're here, so tell me a little bit more about how that relationship with University of Illinois Press started. It became such a huge series, well-known series, and I'm curious, we're now talking about the beginnings of that. Why University of Illinois Press and how did that happen?

RD: Well, I'd known Dick Wentworth at meetings for a long time. I'd read a couple of manuscripts for him, never published for them. But one of the things I was going to talk about, shortly after I came to Cincinnati, the Immigration History Society, of which I was one of the founding members, a very junior member, and my mentor, Theodore Saloutos was the first president, was approached by the National Park Service to help them with the planning of the immigration museum on Ellis Island. And I was one of the historians who went on what became the History Committee, which was an advisory group that met for years. It's still going on, I resigned shortly after we came to Bellevue. But this was, I think, one of the really important things that I've done in my life. And one of the things that really surprised me was the degree to which Asian Americans, who I met and talked to and speaking and this sort of thing, were so interested in Ellis Island even though very few immigrants ever came there.

TI: So I'm surprised, too. Why would Asian Americans or Asians be interested?

RD: Because they thought it was very important, and they were delighted to hear that Asian Americans would be in the historical part. Several of those things I was on there to make sure of, although it's not a big part of it, obviously, because very few went in, but it does tell the whole, the story of American immigration, including a great deal about the period before Ellis Island existed. So that it's really a museum about American immigration, about immigration to the United States, and it concentrates clearly on the Ellis Island years, which really only run from 1982 into the, barely into the 1930s.

TI: Okay, so I understand. So the museum -- and I'm not sure how much you had to do with it -- was more about the full immigration experience. I guess initially I thought that the Ellis Island museum would have been about the Ellis Island, which would have been more European.

RD: Well, it certainly... we reoriented the Park Service's views of what should be done, and there were Park Service historians who agreed with us, but there were, not combat, but there were... the original view was more parochial than the final view. And the historians certainly had something to do with that, but Park Service historians were very important in doing that as well. But the work on that and the work I did in leading up to research, leading up to the establishment of the Presidential Commission, and then my work with the Commission, are two aspects of my life as a public historian. When I was in graduate school, nobody knew, the term didn't even exist. Although there had been public historians before, many historians, for instance, had written books about the federal government in the Second World War, Franklin Roosevelt insisted on that. They wrote about everything but the White House; he was going to do that himself.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So I want to take you back to the early '70s again. And when you were at SUNY Fredonia, it was about the time there was a campaign to repeal Title II of the Internal Security Act of 1950. And it was commonly called, or nicknamed, the "concentration camp law." Can you talk about that, and were you involved with that in terms of the repeal of that law?

RD: I think that I was the person who was one of the first to call attention to it. I remember a historical meeting at Palo Alto. I'd have to date it... meeting of the Pacific Coast branch of the American Historical Association. I mentioned it in something I said, and several Japanese Americans came to talk to me about it and ask questions. And that's, of course, an important step to retracing the evolution of what became redress, or for a better term, the public rehabilitation of Japanese Americans. The first truly tangible step, apart from closing the camps, was the inadequate Japanese American... the act in 1948 which paid minor amounts of money to Japanese Americans, and didn't attempt to make any judgments about the rights or wrongs of incarceration, but at least admitted that there were some damages that ought be repaid. It was terribly inadequate; there were all sorts of problems, but nevertheless, there it was. And this, a couple of decades later, is an important step. And at this time, just as I was in the process of leaving Fredonia, the redress movement began to take shape.

TI: But going back to the repeal of Title II, were you surprised that Japanese Americans approached you? It was a different -- it wasn't Executive Order 9066 -- it was different. Did you make that connection for them, or did these Japanese Americans make this connection, that essentially it was very similar to what happened to them?

RD: Oh, no. I made it and I published something on it, the explicit parallels. And that act was put through by liberal Democrats initially who were proving... it passed, I think, in '49, just after the pass of the so-called "Reparations Act." But this was to show that the Democrats could be just as tough, and this went into the Internal Security Act of 1950 as a separate entity, with its separate law, so it was easy to pluck it out and repeal it. And that was another important step; it was the first step back. And Richard Nixon signed it, indicating that the climate had very definitely changed. It was the '60s, and this came at the end of the '60s, early in the Nixon administration. I should be able to date it right now, but this is not a good morning for dates.

TI: That's okay, we can always get those later. But in terms of the Japanese Americans that were interested, did you ever work with Edison Uno on this?

RD: Yes, not on that. I met Edison in the year of his death.

TI: Which was 1976.

RD: That's right. We met, of all places, in Lethbridge, Alberta. Do you know anything about Lethbridge?

TI: No, I don't.

RD: Had a large Japanese Canadian community, they're ranchers, large numbers of them are Okinawans, and there was a meeting down there. I'd taught in Calgary, in fact, I almost died in Calgary in 1976. But I went back there -- not to Calgary, but to Lethbridge -- for a meeting that I'd agreed to go to, and I read a paper there and met Edison, and he and I had just agreed on almost everything. And we were going to get together and do something, and...

TI: Then he died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve.

RD: Yes. But he was the first of the Japanese American activists who I met who had a clear vision of what Harry Kitano later called an impossible dream. It was really something that could be done. I think that large numbers of the people, I'm convinced that large numbers of the people who supported redress never really expected it to happen. And the amount of skepticism, even after the commission report was out, was really very extreme. I happened to be doing research in Seattle about that time, I had a semester off. And the kids were in a certain place in their school, we couldn't move them, so Judith stayed in Cincinnati and I was out here. And I'd met Gordon earlier.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So you're talking about Gordon Hirabayashi.

RD: Yes, Gordon Hirabayashi, earlier. But he was here then, and largely spending time in Seattle working with various people in the community, going to meetings, and I tagged along with him, and we got fairly close. We went to a lot of meetings together and I learned a great deal of the skepticism and the division, of course, in Seattle. Seattle was full of people who had very different ideas about how redress should be run. Still mutter about it. But that was an important learning experience. I think I went to... I would say for a whole quarter.

TI: Well, and during that time -- and we can talk more about the Seattle group around redress a little bit later -- but you also did a very important oral history with Gordon. Because I remember it in the Special Collections at University of Washington.

RD: Yes. And I've just been approached by a commercial publisher for a short biography for a mass market paperback -- a mass academic market paperback -- for which they want to have a website full of whistles and bells and this sort of thing. We've had some informal discussions, I have to get some other things straightened out first.

TI: And this would be about Gordon Hirabayashi?

RD: Yes, it would be. As a matter of fact, I've already got an outline for it in my mind, and I want to call it, at this time, Ancestry is Not a Crime.

TI: Which is a term...

RD: "The Life of Gordon K" -- it's in quotation marks -- "Life of Gordon K. Hirabayashi." And this will not be a long book.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: I want to go a little bit back to Edison Uno, because the reason I brought him up was, it was something you said earlier, how the repeal of Title II was like a precursor to the redress movement. It was sort of an important step to get to redress, and Edison was involved with the repeal of Title II --

RD: That's right.

TI: -- and is oftentimes viewed as the "Father of the Redress Movement," I mean, he was one of the very early Japanese Americans who started pushing for that. You mentioned you had that conversation in 1976, that he had this vision. Did he ever talk about how important the repeal of Title II was to his education? Was that something that ignited -- I'm trying to figure out what ignited that spark in Edison.

RD: I don't know. But he'd already pioneered, along with Jim Hirabayashi, and the Chinese American historian Him Mark Lai, L-A-I, in teaching Asian American history at San Francisco State. University of California campuses were very slow to pick up on this. Shortly after I came to Cincinnati, I was approached by the department at the University of California... the one that's halfway between L.A. and San Diego in Orange County. Anyway, they had me come out there, and there was a student revolt. That had never happened before, but the Asian American students were furious that no arrangement had been made for me to talk to them, and they raised hell. And when I got out there -- the people who called me out there were very embarrassed by this -- they said, "They want to talk to you, do you want to talk to them?" I said, "I'd be delighted to talk to them," and they were somewhat relieved. But it gives you some idea of what went on, and that was not a job for me or a place I wanted to go. Well, the campus and the general setup there was no place for a man who doesn't drive, but that's another story.

TI: But going back, so the students were protesting, so they knew about your work, and probably through Concentration Camps USA and other... and they were offended that you weren't speaking to them also.

RD: Yes.

TI: Because this was a time period when it was sort of the emergence of the Asian American studies, and people were..

RD: And the University of California campuses all resisted it very, very strongly. And in many ways, it took an unfortunate path in that too many bright people who wanted academic careers got in it, and they wound up not being trained in anything. It probably was not psychologically possible, but it would have been so much better for their careers -- because most of them didn't have good academic careers -- if the arrangement had been you trained as a historian or a sociologist or a political scientist with an Asian American orientation, but were grounded in some discipline thoroughly. And they tended not to be, and most of them -- to get back to the whole question of my own career, I had assumed, when I thought I had two books and then done, because I didn't have a command of any Asian language... I'm not even good in Spanish; my languages are all European... well, that's a European language, or was a European language. But, of course, I eventually found out that most Asians, like all immigrants, the second generation never really gets the language; they can talk to their grandmothers.

Many years later -- this would have been in the '80s -- I was invited to go down to the University of Texas at El Paso as a consultant. They had gotten a very, very interesting idea, and they pursued it since, that being where they were, that they should make their history major intensively immigration-conscious. Not just Mexican immigration, but immigration period. And I was the person they asked to come down and consult with them. And when you do a consulting job, you know what happens. They send you a stack of paper like this, and I'm dumb enough to read it all, or at least to skim. And it turned out that the dean down there was someone I knew from graduate school, UCLA. And one of the things I had discovered was that the University of Texas at El Paso, that you could take almost any standard course in the arts and sciences in either English or Spanish, there was a Spanish section. And I went down and walked in, we sat down, and I said, "I saw this thing about the English courses. It's very good that you have this kind of a relationship with the Chicanos here." And he laughed in my face and said, "They don't take these courses; they're kids." And I knew this, but I hadn't made the two things. "They can talk to their grandmothers, but they're no more going to take chemistry in Spanish than anything else. There's not a good university on the Mexican side of the border for hundreds of miles. And we have a large number of students who commute, some of them live over here but most of them commute every day. And it's a lot easier to take courses outside of your major in a language you're more familiar with, and that's why we have those courses. Anybody can take them, but in fact, the only people who take them are people who are Spanish majors, so they get more facility, and people who are Spanish speakers and find it easier. And I should have been able to connect the dots with that, because I knew the phenomenon.

TI: Because the analogous thing would be, in your relationship with Niseis, they're second-generation Japanese Americans --

RD: Like anybody else, they're second generation Americans.

TI: And they're going to speak English.

RD: They're going to speak English, and most of them are not going to have -- and some of them don't want any part of it, you know, the whole story of the resistance to the language schools. So that there was a place for me. But that became -- and this is the distinction -- I'm more a historian of ethnicity in this instance than of immigration. I do immigration history. But here, I'm dealing with the American experience of recent immigrants and their descendants, which is a very, very different thing from doing immigration history. I've done both. One of my early fights with the orthodox immigration historians has been that I wanted the organization to be called the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, and campaigned against it and got voted down. Twenty-odd years later, I had nothing to do with it at the time, I was in Europe, there was a change of the title and it's now the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, because lots more people are doing that. But I was ahead of the curve on that. And that's why my initial notion of what I could and should do was erroneous. Because one of its predicates, and I don't have any of these languages, I can't do it. So I thought I had an obligation to continue doing this kind of work.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: But also during this time... so again I'll bring you back to, like, around 1976 when you started at Cincinnati, you talked about taking a trip to the West Coast and that student protest, kind of the emergence of Asian American studies. But it was also a time, Edison Uno was active, but unfortunately he died in '76. But other Japanese Americans were starting to tell the story, or to find out more about the story. And the example would be, in '76, Michi Weglyn's book Years of Infamy was published. Here you have someone who was in the camps, a non-historian, writing that book. What was your sense about that book, and what was your opinion of the book when it first came out?

RD: Well, it was interesting. It was submitted to University of Illinois Press, and I read it. And I thought there were a lot of good things in it, but she didn't know the historical literature very well. And in that particular version, she apparently didn't know about my book. So I sent in a report calling for corrections, and most of those weren't made. She apparently had submitted it to several places at once, and a New York publishing house took it. And it was very important that a book like this had been written by a Nisei. Very important to have been written by a Nisei woman, and it eventually got the acceptance it deserved, but it didn't get it immediately. There was a certain amount of resistance. But it was an important step that certainly was one of the two most important books about the incarceration that had been written by a participant, a victim, survivor. The other, of course, is Farewell to Manzanar, which eventually, in its televised version, was the most influential single artifact in closing the deal on the rehabilitation of Japanese Americans. That had a tremendous impact.

TI: The impact being because it became a movie and it was shown on TV? Or just the fact that it was written, this novel?

RD: The whole thing. But the total exposure is so different. That was a blockbuster; it wasn't just shown on TV. I participated in a number of the -- something we haven't talked about yet -- but shortly after I came to Cincinnati, I began to get requests to help with Asian American filmmakers, and eventually worked very, very closely, for a long time, with Loni Ding, who died with her last film not done, not completed. I don't know that anybody's going to be able to do something with what she's got, because she's got a lot on film. I've seen a lot of what she did have.

TI: And what was her last film going to be on?

RD: Well, it's the third thing on her Ancestors in the Americas is planned as a trilogy. That was the third, the third volume was not completed by her.

TI: But going back to your comment about Michi Weglyn's book, so initially it wasn't well-accepted, you said. What changed?

RD: Well, the world was changing; the Japanese American world was changing; the JACL was changing. When the JACL accepted redress, and at the same put in a president who would make it work, that was a seed change. Cliff Uyeda was a very, very different breed of cat from anybody who's ever been anywhere near the leadership of the JACL. You didn't know him, did you?

TI: No, I didn't, but I've read about him. And going back, he was very... I believe he was a dentist?

RD: No, he was a pediatrician. A pediatrician, and an important one. He directed the Kaiser Permanente infancy programs, pediatric programs in San Francisco, and was important in that. But in addition, he was a humanist. He had all kinds of interest in literature and history in the arts.

TI: Well, he was an activist, too. He got involved in the pardon of Iva Toguri, "Tokyo Rose."

RD: Yes, he did that. He also stood up for Wendy Yoshimura.

TI: Okay, right. So she was, that was the Patty Hearst...

RD: Yes, he was involved in that, etcetera, which was just unheard of.

TI: No, so you're right. Not someone you would predict would be the head of the national JACL.

RD: That's right. And of course he was very important in supporting Asian American Studies at San Francisco State, he gave them money.

TI: I didn't know that part. But I want to go back just a little bit back to Michi Weglyn's book. It sounded like when you reviewed it, there were certain parts that you wish she would have corrected or changed before it was published. Can you recall some of those things?

RD: They were mostly details.

TI: Okay.

RD: The basic message of the book was fine. She didn't understand some of the documents, the meanings, the nuances of some of the documents she read. She didn't understand that the Munson Report contained lines which basically said Japanese Americans can be trusted. But then there was a tag at the end, "about ten percent of them will tie bombs around themselves and blow up bridges," and that's just what the army needed. When Roosevelt got the report, he had that page sent over to Stimson. So that it was a very, very different thing.

TI: Did the two of you ever get together and talk about your books?

RD: Never met her.

TI: Because in many ways, because I was at the University of Washington about during this time, the mid-'70s, taking Asian American Studies. So just having your book and Michi Weglyn's book were perhaps the two most important books, and I'm just curious how the two of you...

RD: Well, I think she's got the basic message right, but it's the difference between the amateur and the professional. And there are just some things that... but it's such an improvement over Bill Hosokawa's book. Bill's a better writer, but, of course, he's very interested in not telling certain stories, and we agreed that he knew that. He knew exactly what he was doing.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So, Roger, I wanted to ask you how you started getting involved with the JACL and redress. When did that happen and how did that happen?

RD: Well, they came to me and asked me to help them. I've always been willing to help anybody who... well, I want to be very careful about how I phrase this. I have not been a great fan of the JACL, but it was the one organization that spoke for a large number of Japanese Americans. And anytime they came to me and asked me for help in something -- and this began to happen in the '70s -- I had no way to say no. So I was very much involved with the preparation.

TI: Before we go there, can you tell me why you weren't a fan of the JACL?

RD: Because of their disgraceful behavior during the incarceration; their failure -- although they got certain things down on paper -- their failure to pursue appropriate goals; the outrageous way in which they had denigrated those who brought the Japanese American cases; their too close collaboration with the War Department; their failure to acknowledge the justice of the draft resisters and other protestors. I mean, we could go on and on, it's a long thing.

TI: But many of these things were historical in nature. These were World War II era...

RD: Yes, but the attitudes continued. And the leading figure, Mike Masaoka, man of a great deal of energy and ability, and utterly unscrupulous, did some very interesting things. One of the great shocks that I had -- I don't get surprised very often -- but this ties in to... I'll have to go back to how I got there, but I was a member of the one panel that was called for a senate hearing by a committee led by "Scoop" Jackson, which essentially recommended the creation of the commission, and they assemble a panel of people who go in together, they testify as a bloc. And I went there, and I wasn't surprised to see Mike Masaoka there, but I was very much surprised to see a man who I had not met previously and I admired greatly, Clarence Mitchell. Mitchell was a storied lobbyist with the NAACP in Washington, and a very important cog in the whole process of getting civil rights legislation through. And I went over and I introduced myself, people were waiting in a kind of green room before we go in there, and said, "I was surprised to see you here." "Oh," he said, "I had to be here," and he pointed over at Masaoka sitting in the corner and says, "For twenty years, anytime we had needed some testimony and support, Mike showed up and took a beating from a lot of people in the organization for doing so, but he testified, and the JACL is on record as supporting all of these things. And now that he needs help, I have to be here." And I found that very interesting, and you have to give credit where credit was due. That was a bright thing to do. That must mean, while he really kept putting brakes on, he knew that eventually there was going to have to be a time when something was done, and he made preparations for it.

TI: Oh, interesting. So you think it wasn't necessarily that he was just doing the "right thing" by supporting civil rights, but you think he was consciously --

RD: I don't think there's any two ways about it. And it was a smart thing to do, and it paid off. Lot of things he did weren't very smart, but that was very smart. It just surprised me. He didn't ever seem to me to be a very subtle person. So if you've ever seen it -- I think I gave you a copy -- it was a bound book or collection of papers -- of arguments for redress that was formally presented, and the lead was my piece, which was something I wrote specifically for that. Apart from giving advice for that -- and I also was at the same time giving advice to the people doing the coram nobis work.

TI: And so these were the lawyers who were representing Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Min Yasui.

RD: Yes.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RD: And the most dramatic thing I did was when they had the first meeting of the commissioners after the establishment of the commission, they asked me to brief them on Japanese American history. And I so I went and I spoke for one hour.

TI: So let me just give a little background. So this was a nine-member commission appointed by President Carter to study the incarceration. Do you want me to mention who these people are, or are you going to mention them?

RD: Some of them will be mentioned.

TI: I'll mention the full group, and then you can tell your story. So it was chaired by Joan Bernstein, other members included Arthur Flemming, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, former Senators Edward Brooke and Hugh Mitchell, the Reverend Robert Drinan, Father Gromoff, and Judge Bill Marutani, and also California Congressman Daniel Lungren.

RD: The appointment story is a funny story, and I've got to tell it. It was originally a seven-person commission. And after it had been established, it passed Congress, the Alaska senator who just died, what's his name?

TI: So would that be Mitchell?

RD: No, the Alaska senator, the senator from Alaska.

TI: Oh, I'm sorry, Stevens.

RD: Stevens discovered that some of his constituents, the Aleuts, were also evacuated under the provisions of E.O. 9066. That was a different kind of evacuation, because they were in harm's way. So the evacuation was justified. But the treatment they got after evacuation was just atrocious. They were mostly dumped in abandoned canneries in southern Alaska, developed tremendous rates of TB and all sorts of things. Anyway, the procedure for appointing a presidential commission is that for a seven-person commission, the president pro tem of the Senate gets two, the Speaker of the House gets two, and the President gets three, so that was seven. And that's the way the commission was. And then, after the election, in the lame duck session, Stevens comes up and he wants to appoint Gromoff. And since they made a deal -- Gromoff's name wasn't mentioned at this time -- that they'd add two more people. And the president pro tem of the Senate would get one, and that Stevens could name that one, and the Speaker of the House could get the other. So after the Senate named Gromoff, who was an Aleut Russian Orthodox priest, Tip O'Neill says, "Well, if they name a priest, I'll name a priest." And he picks Father Drinan who was a Jesuit who had been serving in Congress for years, but whom the Pope said had to get out politics, had to get out of political office, so he had resigned, so he put him on. So one of the first documents that Ronald Reagan, the new President, had to sign -- and by the way, what happened was that the old Congress had been controlled by the Democrats. The new Congress, the Republicans were in charge in the Senate, but the Democrats maintained control of the House. So that was the nine. And in addition, a certain number have to be Republicans, but the Republicans were appointed by Democrats, and they were mostly liberal retired Republicans, and then there was Lungren. So that was the nine.

So I talked, and I when I got through talking, Goldberg took over. And I don't know if you know anything about how Supreme Court Justices treat lawyers, but they fire question at them right and left. And he gave me a very thorough grilling. Didn't ask me anything I couldn't answer, but he'd done his homework. He knew the right questions to ask, and it was quite obvious that he was in favor of the whole thing, but he gave me quite a grilling. I hadn't had anything like that experience since my doctoral orals. The only other person who asked me anything was Bill Marutani. The other people just sat there. The last question that Goldberg asked me came as a shock because I didn't think anybody was going to ask me a question like that. He asked me, "Professor, assuming this commission decides to make an award, how much should it be for?" And that really stopped my clock. I'm told I only paused for a moment, but it seemed to me it was a long, long time. And I said -- and I hope to find a transcript of this because I don't have a copy of anything I said -- but I think I said, "Mr. Justice" -- that's what he liked to be called -- "that is a question for the Commission to decide, and I would not presume to tell the Commission what to do. But I believe that if this were a case in law and the Japanese American people" -- remember, he's a retired Justice -- "the Japanese American people were fortunate enough to have you representing them in a court case, I am sure that you would ask for more than twenty-five thousand dollars." [Laughs] He had a good grin. I'm not sure exactly what he said. I think he said, "You're goddamn right," which sort of ended the whole thing. There was nothing to do about that. And at that moment, it was clear to me that there was going to be a positive result.

TI: That exchange, that's priceless. Who else was in the audience? Who else was there when this happened?

RD: A very small audience; there wasn't much of an audience. There was a lot of staff.

TI: And when this happened, was there quite a bit of laughter?

RD: No, there wasn't. There were people sitting around a table. There's a picture of it that I found in the National Archives, I didn't know it was there, of me briefing the Commission, a photograph, and it's published in my book Asian America. You have a copy of it. But I hope to, sometime in the near future, get into the archives of the Commission. Joan Bernstein, who was a government bureaucrat, a government lawyer who knew how to do certain kinds of things, had told me that she would try to arrange, have a publication of the papers, some of them went out on microfilm, but didn't do or wasn't able to do what she said, which was to get some money for a proper historical editing and arrangement of the papers, which I didn't want to do, but I wanted to have some hand in shaping them. My thought was if they got some money and a grant, that I would try to recruit a history PhD or two, a Nisei or Sansei if I could find one, but mostly somebody with historical competence and knowledge. But that never came about.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: I want to back up a little bit --

RD: Then, in addition, I continued to work with the Commission. It turns out that some of the materials I had cited could not be any longer found in the National Archives, so I gave them some microfilm copies. And I don't think there's any conspiracy there, just stuff gets lost. People look at it and they put it back in the wrong place, etcetera. And the other thing I did -- and this was largely due to Jimmie Omura -- who had somehow or other gotten in touch with the people at the Smithsonian who were preparing the wonderful exhibit the Smithsonian put on. And he thought it was being badly done, and he sent me some stuff from it, and I thought it was being badly done, too, so I crudely inserted myself into the matter. I had friends at the Smithsonian, knew who to write, and got in touch with the people involved, and made clear to them that I got sent some of the script, and it was just awful. They had all kinds of terrible mistakes in there. Their heart was in the right place, but it was a very complicated business.

TI: And who was doing that? Was that the historians at the Smithsonian?

RD: Yes, people at the Smithsonian.

TI: But they usually have a community connection. Were they working with a community organization?

RD: Yes, and that's how Omura heard about it. There were other people involved, too, I don't know who was involved, but I just wrote a letter, and I made it clear that I was going to make a stink. So they paid for me to come to Washington and straighten them out. I mean, they had quotations from Supreme Court cases wrong, and just an awful lot of other mistakes. It was a good idea, the whole story of the thing is an interesting story, I tell it. But Roger Kennedy, who was later head of the Park Service, was in charge. And the Smithsonian put up this exhibit as part of its contribution to the bicentennial of the Constitution. And the museum -- not the Smithsonian, but it's a Smithsonian museum, but the Museum of American History was right across the street from the National Archives. That's where the Constitution is, that's where the display for the Constitution is. What the hell are they going to do? And some people who were largely associated with the Air and Space Museum, historians there -- particularly a guy named Tom Crouch, who I quote in my book that's coming out in November -- had the idea of focusing on the Nisei soldiers. But then it wound up that they were going to do the soldiers and this, and it wound up to be mostly an exhibition about the camps. And a former Chief Justice of the United States, who was the head of the commission on the Constitution, heard about it and didn't like it at all. And he came over and complained to Kennedy about it, that they shouldn't do this. And supposedly -- Kennedy would never confirm this, I asked him about it some years later when I heard about it, and he just sort of smiled and said, "I couldn't possibly comment on anything like that." But what the Justice told him was that, "That was a terrible thing that they did to those people, but it has nothing to do with the Constitution." I hope that's an accurate quotation. As I say, the source couldn't confirm it, so when I use it, I make that explanation. But it's widely believed, by people who worked on the project, that that is the case. And it turned out to be a very good exhibit, and I was pleased to be able to do so. But I was happily, by that time, I had enough of a reputation that I was able to insert myself into that situation. And of course I said that I'd raise hell if they didn't, and that's the last thing a government historian ever wants, is somebody, particularly somebody with a reputation, to go and talk to some congressman about they're doing a bad thing, and I would do exactly that. I had some fairly good congressional contacts.

TI: And this was the exhibit A More Perfect Union?

RD: Yes, that's right. That is correct.

TI: That's a good story.

RD: It may even be true. [Laughs] I worked constantly through the commission, and based on my experience, I made one contribution, one suggestion which they accepted, an important one, to their work. One of the things that I kept seeing in various archival collections of Japanese American papers was that under the Japanese American Claims Act, you had to file a claim, and that Japanese American lawyers had a little business going there. They didn't charge them much. I mean, somebody like Kido got twenty-five dollars a shot for filing these papers. And I went and I talked to the people when they were drafting the recommendations, and I set about this and I said, "Listen. People shouldn't have to establish their claims. The government knows who these people are. It's the government's responsibility to do that." And they put that into the law, into the recommendations, and Congress accepted them. And nobody there had any awareness of this, and I don't think it would have come up. And the office of ORA, the Office of Redress Administration, set up in the Justice Department, did an absolutely superb job. They went so far as to have two people attached to the embassy in Tokyo for more than a year hunting down eligible people who were living in Japan, most of whom were renunciants, of course. But that had nothing to do with it. If they were in camp, they were entitled to their money. So that this was a tremendous thing, and I never would have thought of it if I had not seen all those letters. And those claims were really, I mean, claims were being cut down under that act. They recognized so much property damage done, but the appropriation was only a fraction of that, and the government litigated these things; the litigation went on for twenty-five years. So that a lot of the money wound up not to the people who lost it, but to lawyers, mostly Japanese American lawyers, but some places Caucasian lawyers. There were some people who lived in places where there weren't any Japanese American lawyers, although on the West Coast they got to be pretty thick on the ground. And it's an interesting question as to how much the Japanese experience in the camps, and with other kinds of discrimination before that, impelled such a relatively high percentage of Nisei and Sansei to become lawyers, more Sansei than Nisei. I have no doubt that the percentage is much higher than for most groups in the population.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: But going back to that change, putting the onus on distributing the money on the government and not on Japanese Americans who were incarcerated, if that change had not been made, what do you think the difference would have been?

RD: That a lot of people would have never gotten the money.

TI: And do you think it's because they would not have known to get the money, or do you think they would not have gone through the process to collect?

RD: Well, it depends on what kind of a process they made, but some people don't have papers to prove who they were, etcetera. The renunciants in Japan, what were they going to do? Most of those people were not really very well off. But no, I think it was utterly proper that it was their responsibility to do so, and I think it made it a lot simpler. People didn't have to apply, didn't have to ask for anything. The other service I did, I also was one of two persons who was asked to go over the draft report and make suggestions.

TI: And this is the report that eventually was named Personal Justice Denied?

RD: Yes, that's right. Angus Macbeth wrote most of that, but I had a great number of corrections and suggestions, many of which they took. Bill Hosokawa had a copy; I don't know what he did. I'm trying to find his papers and haven't had any success in doing so.

TI: So when you said two people, it was you and Bill Hosokawa?

RD: Yes, we're thanked. It's not a secret.

TI: You mentioned Angus Macbeth, who was the primary author of this. Tell me a little bit about what you know of Angus Macbeth and how you worked with him.

RD: Well, he wasn't there all the time; he came in late. And it was very important, because I think there were experts on the committee, on the Commission, who were very unhappy about the public hearings. I remember one lawyer who said, "They're all freak shows," didn't have any understanding. I mean, this guy knew what was wrong and what was right, but found the personal expressions and the hysteria and the tears, he found that offensive. He thought that should be, it should be nothing like that. And Macbeth understood that that was important. So he was a man of... one of his predecessors had a good legal knowledge, but I think did not have a good human understanding. You've interviewed him, haven't you?

TI: Yes, we have.

RD: What was your impression?

TI: I thought he was, as you say, very real, very much... not only in terms of very bright and conscientious work, but a sense that what he was doing was going to be historic in nature as he got into it. So he understood the importance of the work.

RD: I would agree to that; that's a good analysis. Have you done Aiko?

TI: Yes, I was going to ask, she's on my list, too, Aiko and Jack Herzig. And I've interviewed Aiko.

RD: You didn't get Jack?

TI: I didn't get Jack. So, again, I interviewed her many, many years after what happened, and I'm guessing you worked with her during this time period.

RD: Yes.

TI: And in particular, because of your experience and knowledge of working in the archives, and that's something that Aiko was doing very much, I wanted to get your sense of her work.

RD: Well, it was very important. And I certainly don't want this released while she's alive, but I'm convinced that the story she tells is in part a fairytale. If you look at her testimony in the second Hirabayashi case, she says that what happened, how she found out this stuff, was that she was sitting by the desk of an archivist who was away from his desk to get something. And she happened to reach into his bookshelf, and just happened to pick up the one undestroyed copy -- there's a certificate I've seen that all copies were destroyed, but one wasn't, and it's in this archivist's desk. And happened to open it just to the right page, and she admitted that he wasn't there, to see the statements that were done. Well, I am convinced that what happened was she a good archive rat, and archivists really appreciate people like that. And I'm sure there were people there, or there was someone there who knew about this, maybe the person who had actually somehow managed to filch it from a group to be destructed. In other words, I think she was given it by an archive employee, and her story of finding it herself, not for personal glory -- I've written a couple of emails trying to get her to talk to me about this, she doesn't want to talk about it -- but I'm convinced that that's the case. I had not realized this until I actually read her testimony in doing The Japanese American Cases book, and research often lets you find things you didn't know. So I'm convinced that that's what happened. The result's still the same.

TI: Do you think she was trying to protect someone?

RD: Oh, of course.

TI: So the archivist who actually leaked it to her, essentially, protecting this person.

RD: That's right, sure. That's what happened, I mean, because I'll tell you, not the leak, but his failing to comply with orders to destroy that copy was a criminal offense.

TI: So you think Aiko knows how that copy survived.

RD: I think that he gave it to her. Because the story is not... Aiko is not a person to intrude herself into somebody's personality, grab into his books. And she has to see -- I know what those desks are like, they usually have little bookcases on them. They're facing, you have to be sitting in the seat, not in the visitor's seat, but in the seat behind, to see that. A person would never see that there was a copy of a book that said this.

TI: And we should mention, for people who are reading the transcript and looking at this interview in the future, that we're talking about General DeWitt's Final Report, and that initial report showed John DeWitt's racist tendencies in terms of how he viewed the Japanese American community, and that was... what's the right word? Edited out before -- well, it was first published, and then when the War Department saw that, they wanted that destroyed.

RD: John J. McCloy saw it. The War Department doesn't have any eyes, and McCloy is the one who saw it and who insisted on that.

TI: And so he ordered all of them destroyed, and so that the report could be edited and then redistributed. Fascinating Because that was a key piece, especially in the second Gordon Hirabayashi case with coram nobis. I'll have to see if I can ask Aiko off the record if she'll tell me that story. That's a good one.

RD: Don't.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Going back to the Commission, did you attend any of the hearings?

RD: Yes, I attended the Chicago hearing.

TI: So tell me what you saw. What were your experiences?

RD: I had a nightmare getting there. [Laughs] I got off at the airport and had to go to this Holiday Inn in a suburb of Chicago. I was told it was seven stories high and purple, and I had a taxicab driver who spoke perfect English and drove very well, but a week previously he'd been driving a taxi in Lahore, and he didn't know anything about Chicago. So I thought I was never going to get there, and I got there a little late. And I thought it wasn't as wild as the L.A. hearings, which was apparently the most uncontrolled, which is probably about right. But it was not unlike other hearings, and they were wonderful stories. I'd never seen large numbers of Japanese Americans crying in public before; some just absolutely broke down. I wish I had been at the L.A. hearings. I don't know where I was when that happened.

TI: And since you had already briefed the commissioners, what was their reaction to the hearings?

RD: I don't know, I didn't have much contact with most of them. The only commission member I saw with any frequency was the Washington senator who went to some of the meetings that Gordon and I went to.

TI: Was that Senator Mitchell?

RD: Yes. He was an appointed senator; he never won an election. He was a very good man.

TI: Did you ever have a chance to talk to Bill Marutani after the hearings?

RD: I spoke to him at a reception, and as I say, he asked me a question. He didn't talk about coram nobis. You know, Irons says that he presented some of his findings to a special panel that met with the Commission in Cambridge of mostly lawyers. And Marutani was the one who suggested to him that his information that Aiko and he found was, that a coram nobis proceeding was the appropriate way to go. Now, whether that's the first, I don't know, but it's what Peter mentions. He's a little unforthcoming on that.

TI: So to make sure I understand, so what you just said was it was Judge Marutani who first suggested that the writ of coram nobis would be --

RD: I didn't say that. I said that he says that when he presented his materials, that Marutani suggested that coram nobis might be the case. He doesn't say that that was the first he had thought of it, and he doesn't say not. He just says that, so what you said was a conclusion, and it's probably true, but it's not something you could say, because he didn't say it.

TI: Okay, got it.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: It's interesting how having done interviews with many of the people we've talked about, how there are these differences in terms of how... but I guess that's part of history, right?

RD: That's right. And then there are many of these things you just can't decide.

TI: Well, and especially about something as eventful as redress, coram nobis, and how important it is to the community, and how many players were involved, and how everyone has a story about how they were involved and their role, and how they think about it. It is interesting. I mean, as a historian, how do you deal with that when there are -- a simple example is how the redress bill eventually got the number H.R. 442, House Resolution 442. I think in the archives we have three different stories of how that came about. And it's always kind of interesting, as an oral historian, how I deal with something like that.

RD: What kinds of differences are there?

TI: Well, there was one from Senator Inouye, and from then Representative Norm Mineta, I can't remember the third one. It might have been from Grant Ujifusa.

RD: I wouldn't trust that one farther than I could throw it. I've got a document that I want to show you of his. I keep forgetting to bring it.

TI: But I think Norm talks about it was all a timing issue, that he had to be there because they said they were done sequentially, and he knew the significance of 442, which is the...

RD: It's a put up deal. You arrange with the clerk beforehand.

TI: Well, so he said he had to be there, and then when that sequence was there, that's when it was placed.

RD: No, no, you've got to make the arrangements in advance.

TI: Versus the senator said that was just something that was requested.

RD: If Inouye requested it, it was going to happen. But the first time that happened, where people started doing this, was for Lend-Lease. And they got that one, that was H.R. 1776. I mean, that number comes up, well, if there are enough bills, that number comes up every Congress. So now there are all kinds of things that are doing them. And then they developed this whole business of making the initials say something. But for years and years and years that wasn't done. That's a recent innovation.

TI: I guess the question I'm asking, as a historian, you've interviewed lots of people. And when there are differences --

RD: Sometimes you can't tell. You have to just say what you know... like I wouldn't say that Bill Marutani was the first person to do it. Everybody wants to make coram nobis a lot more mysterious and arcane than it actually was. Because where most people should have heard of it at that time, was the fact that Alger Hiss's memoir is actually his coram nobis petition. And it went absolutely nowhere; it's not an example anybody wanted to use, because first of all, it didn't succeed, and secondly, who wants to say we're doing something that Alger Hiss for god sakes talked about? So all these statements about how arcane it was...

TI: Well, and I seem to recall from our interview with Peter Irons, he used the writ of coram nobis personally in his case of, I think, draft resistance in the Vietnam War.

RD: Without success.

TI: I can't remember how successful it was, but he talks about a personal sort of use of the writ of coram nobis.

RD: He didn't talk about that in the book; I didn't know that.

TI: So again, it's interesting how much comes out of these interviews. Something I forgot to ask about, we talked about Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig, her husband Jack Herzig -- who passed away years ago but was also a significant player during this time period -- did you work with Jack? Did you know Jack?

RD: Yes, I knew Jack. The most important thing that he did... well, he ran interference for her. He was a very soft spoken guy, but he was a former intelligence officer, and he had a commanding presence. His most important role, testimony, was he helped shoot down this nonsense about MAGIC, which wasn't really before the court, because the judge... well, it's a long story, we don't need to go into that. But no, there are things... history is a debate without end. That's a phrase from a great Dutch historian.

TI: Well, so my understanding is that the MAGIC cables were not included in the initial draft of Personal Justice Denied.

RD: They had no relevance.

TI: So that, from your perspective, it was known but it just was not part of it. But then later on it was inserted...

RD: Well, when they tried to shoot it down, I forget his name, this turkey who had been hired to supervise the declassification of them, which was sort of routine. First of all, nobody in the Western Defense Command knew anything about MAGIC. Didn't go down to that level. Many of the top generals didn't know anything about MAGIC. It was a very closely held proposition. Secondly, there's nothing in MAGIC, not an iota, that identifies any subversive Japanese Americans. What we have is that fact that -- which we already knew from Ringle's break-in to the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles -- we already knew that Japan was asking them to find Nisei. But in fact, most Japanese espionage in the United States was conducted by Caucasians, mostly Germans, for obvious reasons. Can you imagine anything more suspicious than a Japanese face at a camera at Boeing? [Laughs] But it's one of these wonderful red herrings that was dug up, but it had no relevance.

TI: And that was one of the valuable things that Jack Herzig did, because with his intelligence background, he essentially did this analysis of the data, essentially.

RD: You didn't have to have intelligence background to do it, but the fact that an intelligence officer was saying this seemed important in the press. I don't think it had any real value, it was nice that he could do that, but this Lowman had nothing to offer, and under cross examination he admitted he had nothing to offer. He would say things like, "Yeah, but it's very interesting to think." There was nothing there. It's like what the dog did in the night, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was nothing. Which was important, because it meant that the person who did it must have been something the dog liked, which meant his master was the guilty person. But the extent that people, politicians and others, will go to to discredit a popular claim is pretty obscene.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Earlier you talked about... we're at the point where the Commission has its findings, they publish Personal Justice Denied, and you mentioned earlier how, at this point, the recommendations were for an apology, redress payments of twenty thousand dollars.

RD: No, actually, there are no recommendations in Personal Justice Denied. Personal Justice Denied comes out in January.

TI: The first...

RD: Yes.

TI: And so let's go there, let's walk through that. So when it first comes out, what was the reaction?

RD: Well, great skepticism. It just so happened that Personal Justice Denied was published a day or so, or a few days, before a big conference on redress that Harry and Sandra Taylor and I -- and Sandra did most of the work because she was located in Salt Lake City -- had in Salt Lake City. All kinds of people participated. The book From Relocation to Redress recapitulates all the papers from that conference. And I gave the keynote address opening up. And I had to insert into the address the comments from the preamble of the report, and I was pretty optimistic about it. And the questions everybody asked me, Peter Irons in particular, pushing and pushing and pushing, "What's the Commission going to do? You know, don't you?" And I said, "No, I don't know." And they pushed and they pushed and they pushed. And I guess about the fourth time the question was asked, I said, "All right, look. I don't know, but I know that they're, as a group, highly favorable. I think they're going to come through with a good offer. There's no way they can award twenty-five thousand dollars. My notion is that it will be twenty thousand dollars." And when that turned out to be correct, there are still people who I see who tell me, "You really knew that, didn't you?" I didn't know it. But that's common sense. Sure, they could have come out with $2,250, $24,999, but it was more logical that they would go down to a round number. You're not going to have fifty cents at the end or something like that. It should be a simple number. Twenty thousand dollars was a good guess. Could have been fifteen, but I thought twenty thousand was where they'd go, and that's where they went. And if you're going to go down a little... and I think twenty-four would have seemed like a concession.

TI: And what was the rationale that twenty-five thousand was not the acceptable number?

RD: Because it's what they asked for. That was the dumb thing, they asked for a specific number. The specific number was everywhere. So they couldn't politically give them everything they asked for. I thought that was a given from the very first, that it would be somewhat less. Cliff Uyeda agreed with me. The number came from Seattle, and from Lowry.

TI: Let's talk about it; let's go back to the Seattle group. In some ways, their activities were a little bit earlier than this period. It was sort of back probably when Cliff Uyeda became JACL president was when...

RD: No, no, no. That's very late.

TI: Even earlier then?

RD: Yes. Uyeda takes over as president at the same meeting in Salt Lake City, although not the meeting I'm talking about, because that was in the previous summer, that was in '76. He was first organizer, whatever the title was, of the redress commission, and he oversaw that. But the redress committee had adopted, being pushed by the Seattle members, this twenty-five thousand dollar thing, and there were some real cockamamie other proposals before that. The twenty-five thousand dollars wasn't a bad idea, but it was a bad idea to name a real figure. Because what that does politically is sets a top. It can't be over that, and it probably won't be that. But when the redress commission found out from the Nisei representatives, who nobody had checked with beforehand, they just sort of assumed that these guys were their errand boys. Nobody's ever said that, but that's obviously... "if we do this, they'll do what we want done, because we're the people." Well, that's not what happened, as you know. But when they came back from Washington, and then accepted that proposal by a split vote, the Seattle people resigned.

TI: So let me make sure I understand this. So when they went back to D.C.... because I think many of the people wanted to push a legislative effort right then...

RD: That's right, for twenty-five thousand dollars.

TI: For twenty-five thousand dollars. But in that meeting, attended by Senator Inouye, Norm Mineta, representative Matsui, Sparky Matsunaga, I think those were the four, plus members of the JACL redress committee, the decision at that point was to push for the commission or the hearings approach.

RD: Well, that's not really what happened. What happened is that the... the first thing that happened was that the Nisei reps just shot down the whole notion of a direct bill, of a bill. "We can't introduce this, it will never get anywhere," etcetera, etcetera. And then Inouye gave them a lifeline, and I think it was his intention, and I think he let everybody in on it beforehand, I mean, his colleagues, in on it beforehand, but if they adopted a procedure, a request for a commission of inquiry, they'll do that. And they also thought that they could get... they had reason to believe that they could even get Hayakawa on board, which for Republicans would be important. So that was the decision they had to take, and when the JACL redress committee took that decision, the Seattle people left. And Lowry, who had no real influence in Congress, he was a short-timer, the Lowry Bill went nowhere.

TI: And Mike Lowry was a U.S. Congressman from the Seattle district.

RD: Yes, I think in his second term.

TI: No, I think it was actually his first term, because he barely squeaked in, and a lot of it had to do with a lot of community support from the Japanese American community, because Lowry agreed to do this. And so I think he won by less than two thousand votes or something; it was a tight race.

RD: And did he get elected? He got elected governor later.

TI: Governor, yes. So he went from there to governor. I'm not quite sure. We'll hear him next week at the JANM conference.

RD: You'll hear him; I won't. I'll listen to you.

TI: [Laughs] Okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: But you mentioned him, and I wanted to... because he's in my notes. S.I. Hayakawa. So he was a U.S. Senator from California when all this was going on. So I think he was elected in 1976, and he was a one-term U.S. Senator. Why was he such an important figure during this time? Why did someone like Senator Inouye say that getting Hayakawa on board was important?

RD: Well, it was important for that because it would make it easier to get Republican agreement. What you hope for at a time like this, when you want to get something through, is unanimous consent. That means one guy can dissent, can just say no, and then you've got to go through all the procedures. So if you have bipartisan support, and support of the three Japanese origin members of the Senate...

TI: Which would be Sparky Matsunaga, Daniel Inouye, and S.I. Hayakawa.

RD: Yes, that was it. I met Hayakawa years before that. He'd taught at the University of Wisconsin, and I was very surprised when I went to a history meeting and went to a reception for a fairly distinguished historian from Wisconsin who took me over and introduced me to Hayakawa. He said, "Oh, yes, I know Professor Daniels. He appeals to the worst instincts of the worst members of the Japanese American community here." He said this with a smile. And believe it or not, I had one. I said, "Oh, Senator, you outdo me. You appeal to the worst instincts of the entire American population," and he agreed that I had won that round. And you know, he was a semanticist, so he could use language. He knew how to do that, he knew how to gain attention. But he was a man without morality. You know how he became president of San Francisco State?

TI: I read someplace where he was appointed to be on the panel to decide who the next person, I mean, it was sort of a crisis situation, right? The president had resigned...

RD: He had resigned from a plane thirty thousand feet over Addis Ababa, if you want a bizarre situation.

TI: But that S.I. Hayakawa was appointed to help find a successor.

RD: No, he was on a faculty committee to find a successor. And? What's your story?

TI: And instead of finding a successor, he ended up being the new president, and I wasn't quite sure exactly how that...

RD: Oh, very simple. At that time, the governor of California had the power to do that. And he was on this committee, he's not its chair, he's on the committee. Ronald Reagan, somebody tells Reagan to call him up and offer him the presidency. And he accepted it without saying a word to any of his colleagues. And he was very much against affirmative action and Japanese American studies. And then when things went well eventually, he came to support them.

TI: And that was a very complex individual. I've read a few things about him that are very interesting.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So going back, you mentioned the Salt Lake City conference right after the findings...

RD: Well, a lot of people at that conference were very skeptical that anything was ever going to happen.

TI: That's what I wanted to talk about.

RD: As I say, I was not skeptical. I thought it would happen, and I thought that the time had come where this thing could be done, and if it didn't get screwed up somehow, that it would eventually get through Congress, and that's what happened.

TI: And that timeframe, I mean, 1983 to the signing, 1988, was that about the timeframe you were thinking? A five-year process?

RD: I had no notion. I would not have dreamed on doing that. It would depend on who had been elected. If the election in 1980 had gone the other way...

TI: So I'm trying to think of the impact of Reagan becoming President.

RD: It slowed down the whole thing. The Reagan administration fought it tooth and nail right up to the last minute, and then Ronnie came trotting in.

TI: And signed it.

RD: Yes, but there's a story. I've described this in books, not everything. Reagan tells a story that he had this letter from a Japanese American woman who reminded him that he had been at this medal ceremony working as a PR man for the Air Force. Ronald Reagan served in the Air Force, and sometimes he imagined he'd been a bomber pilot, but he never left Hollywood. His job was to do public relations, and he did so. He was too old to be a pilot, but he confused the movies with real life all the time. But the fact of the matter is that there were people -- and I was one of them -- who let people in the Reagan White House know that we were very much aware of his appearance at that ceremony, and it would not look good for him. In addition, it was probably good California politics to sign it, but his administration was absolutely against it. And there are papers in... the button woman, the predecessor to Michelle Malkin.

DH: Lillian Baker?

RD: Thank you, Dana, bravo. Lillian Baker, who I debated in Seattle once. But their people corresponded with people in the Reagan administration, her papers at Palo Alto, that make it very clear that they were just shocked and betrayed by Reagan's acceding to redress. Because they knew he was going to encourage the House not to pass it, or he's going to encourage the House not to pass it, but veto it if they passed it, and it's clear that it was not a veto-proof, so it was absolutely crucial.

TI: And so it's still not clear to me why he signed it.

RD: He signed it because it was good politics, because it would have been embarrassing to him. He wanted to be a hero.

TI: But even though people like Ed Meese and others in his administration were really very against it?

RD: There were people up there who were pushing for it. Grant was probably one of those, but he's... I have some documents about Grant.

TI: Well, the story I've heard through Grant is the role of Governor Tom Kean, who through... from Grant's informing Governor Tom Kean about the story of the ceremony during World War II that Reagan participated, that the governor reminded President Reagan of that. And President Reagan, when hearing that, decided to do the "right thing" by signing it.

RD: Well, there were people in the Reagan White House who knew that there was a historian who would scream very loudly about these meetings if he didn't do it.

TI: How did you come across this information? How did you first hear about the ceremony that Reagan participated in?

RD: I read the New York Times for the entire period, I mean, the Los Angeles Times for the entire period. It was in the newspapers. Stillwell was news, Reagan was news.

TI: That's right. Vinegar Joe Stilwell.

RD: And this was all part of something ordered by Truman, who Eleanor Roosevelt had told, apparently, getting information from people in the WRA about the difficulties people were having in California, and there was this whole business of shooting into houses, some of it done by deputy sheriffs, etcetera. And she alerted Truman to this, and Truman began what was a whole series of pro-Japanese American debates emanating from the White House, including the famous review. But he did a lot of things. He did a couple of other things that weren't that good. Following something that had been set up in the Roosevelt administration, he signed the order making it possible to deport the renunciants. Without that order they couldn't be deported. He also pardoned all the war resisters, but didn't discuss the pardon. Actually, his pardon board made the recommendation. A.L. Wirin, who was counsel for the JACL for years, who gave up the much more lucrative counsel to the CIO in California, which demanded that if he were to continue working for the CIO, he'd have to drop his Japanese American, represent that. And the CIO paid him a lot more, but he told them to go to hell. He was a very nasty man in many ways, but he was right on almost every issue. Tule Lake people resent him very much.

TI: Resent him? And why so?

RD: Well, they blame him incorrectly. He found a way for certain people to get their citizenship back before Collins did. He only had two or three clients, Collins had all these people lined up, and went through a long, complicated procedure. Wirin did something very simple: he instructed his clients to apply to the State Department for a passport and let them know that they didn't have... and then sued the State Department. And the State Department didn't want to defend the suit, so they'd issued the passports. And they blamed Wirin -- and I think it's wrong -- for the fact that Denman and his decision did not do what they wanted, what Collins wanted. Collins wanted him to say they were all invalid, Denman said no. He was a very interesting guy. He said all the minors get their citizenship back. Everybody else has to apply for it. And what apply for it meant was they had to file an affidavit, and then the Justice Department had to refute it. The Justice Department didn't have any evidence against anybody. They didn't know who these people were, they didn't know where they were. And one of the reasons it took so long was they've got to find these people. Most of them had been turned loose and could, in fact, if they still had their birth certificates, could pretend that they were citizens, that they were still citizens, and who would have known the difference? But those cases went on forever... not really, I think it was twenty-five years.

TI: But people were upset with Wirin because they felt that his action prompted kind of the ruling that it had to be done by the individual?

RD: Yes. I think that's untrue. I think that Denman was... but he was a nasty man in many ways. He reduced a very nice and naive graduated student, who was trying to do a paper on this, and he gave her an interview and she asked him what he thought was a dumb question and he says, "That's a stupid question. There's no sense talking to you. Get out of here." And it probably was a dumb question, but he wasn't very nice. I could never find anything bad say about him, apart from his character, which I don't have to write about. The one thing I could do that annoyed him was I used his real name.

TI: And what's his real name?

RD: Abraham Lincoln Wirin. He hated it.

TI: Interesting.

RD: Everything is A.L. Wirin. But he was a very good lawyer. He had a client early on, the Wakayamas, clients, and he used the same approach with them that was later used for Mitsuye Endo. But the Wakayamas, who had gotten involved in some of the nastiness at Manzanar, withdrew after he'd gotten it through a local judge. So that case went nowhere. And it would be very interesting to know what would have happened if that had gone up that early. The whole thing about coram nobis that's fascinating is I am convinced that even if the Supreme Court had known all that stuff, they would have done exactly the same thing.

TI: It's more just this time?

RD: Yes. There was a war on, they were Roosevelt's men, all but one of them he'd put in their seats. He didn't initially appoint Harlan Fiske Stone, but he made him Chief Justice. He appointed seven of the other eight. Only Owen J. Roberts was appointed by anybody else. No, they were Roosevelt's men, and there was no way they were going to -- and I think that during a real war, to expect the U.S. Court to not reject something President wanted to do, but to reject something a President wanted to do to enemy people, no way anybody can ever answer that question because it didn't come up. But I'm convinced it would have made a difference.

TI: Now, the Supreme Court... and so the coram nobis cases didn't make it all the way to the Supreme Court. And I know more recently, Peter Irons wants the Supreme Court to repudiate their wartime convictions, the Supreme Court's wartime convictions. Any thoughts about that?

RD: A consummation very much to be wished. But this bunch? Forget about it. I think it's highly unlikely that it will happen. Certainly it's unlikely it will happen soon. I think most will do like Patel did; she said as a precedent, this isn't any good. It doesn't make much sense. But who is to say what's possible? I think it's desirable, but I don't think it's going to happen.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So I wanted to go back, and I'm looking at my notes, and there are a few things I wanted to follow up on.

RD: We've been all over the place.

TI: So we talked a little bit about, earlier, about Cliff Uyeda when he became JACL president. And my notes indicate that it was 1978 that he became JACL president, and at which point he appointed John Tateishi as the chair of the redress committee. And I just wanted to get your sense in terms... so it would be a couple years after you went to Cincinnati?

RD: Yes, I didn't know him until later. He was an ex-president of the JACL when I first met him.

TI: This is John?

RD: No. I met John... no, I met Cliff later. I may have shaken his hand at a reception or something, but I didn't get to know him until he was an ex-president.

TI: Okay. But I just wanted to talk a little bit about John Tateishi, who was active as the chair of the redress committee. So he was very much the face of the redress movement for the JACL.

RD: Yes, I guess I did know Cliff. Because when I had trouble getting copy out of John -- I was contracted to do a piece -- it filled a nice niche in the book From Relocation to Redress. I'm going to have to look and see when that was published. But I couldn't move him. He would say, "Next month, next month," and so I wrote a letter to Cliff and got his piece almost by return mail.

TI: So he had a lot of influence over John.

RD: Yes, there's no two ways about that.

TI: I'm trying to see when that was...

RD: Edited, but it's... it's edited so it's down at the bottom of the thing. First edition is 1986. So that would have been in '85 or '86.

TI: Which is after, pretty much after...

RD: Yes, so it is true.

TI: That you got to know Cliff more after.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RD: The other thing that we need to get in here is how I screwed John J. McCloy. What year was Personal Justice Denied published?

TI: 1983.

RD: Was it?

TI: Yes, I'm pretty sure it was '83, because it came out right after the hearings. Well...

RD: It came out before the Salt Lake City conference.

TI: Right. So more like...

RD: Actually, it has the wrong date published. It's got a date published because they were afraid they were not going to have enough money in the next fiscal year to publish it. So it's got an earlier date than it actually appeared. They've got a December date on it, but it really didn't appear until January.

TI: Okay, so I think what I've seen is maybe December '83, so it was more like '84 that it was published?

RD: Yes. But the announcement of the redress funds came at the end of June. Because everything would have come to an end by the fiscal year, which was the thirtieth, and it was just before then. It happened to be that I was out in San Francisco working with Loni Ding for about three days, and I stayed in a motel diagonally up the street from where the JACL office is. I had stayed there before and it's a nice place in Nihonmachi, it's comfortable, etcetera. And I come, working with her, she's like a Prussian field marshal, I'm exhausted. I come in, I take a shower, and I'm lying on the bed half asleep and the MacNeil/Lehrer Report comes on, and I find out that redress has been announced, the funding, that it's twenty thousand dollars, which made me feel good. And then they interviewed John J. McCloy, and he comes up with this terrible stuff. It just made me sick. And I eventually dozed off. And the phone rang, and it's Judith calling me. "Roger," she says, "I just fielded a phone call from the executive director of the JACL. They want to talk to you as fast as they can. I did not tell them you were in San Francisco."

TI: And right across the street almost.

RD: Yes. So I picked up the phone, and they told me that on some imminent date, one or two or three days, a camera crew from the CBS Sunday Morning program was going to come and film them for a program about redress, and would I come and be their spokesman? So I said okay. They said, "We'll pay your airfare." I said, "You don't have to pay my airfare. I'm in a motel across the street. You'll have to pay the extra cost of changing the ticket and my hotel bill, and I don't charge anything." So they thought that was very lucky. So I'm over there, and the film crew comes in, and I talk to them. "Who's your producer?" and they told me who the producer was, and it's the guy who made the film, when he was with NBC, called Guilty by Reason of Race, which is the best film, one of the first films, television films ever made, and that he was their director, and he's very much pro-redress. And I said, "Listen, I'm going to be doing the talking with these people. Are you going to talk to McCloy?" He said, "Oh, yeah, we talk to him next week." Monday I think it was. This was close to the weekend. I said, "Listen, I want you to ask me this question at some point in that. And then when you get to McCloy, ask him the same question and see if the answer he gives doesn't fit very nicely into what I will say in my answer." So I did it, and they did it, and it made him look like a fool. Because I have a very good memory, short range, anyway. And what he had said burned into me, and he was going on and on, and I said, "This guy has learned this. He's been saying this everywhere, he's going to say the same damn thing." So he asked me a question, it was about, "Is redress justifiable?" I said, "Well, you know, some people would say that it's not justifiable because..." and I gave what he said, "but that's obscene. No decent person would possibly say that." And they asked him, and it worked.

TI: Because he said exactly what you thought he would?

RD: Yes, every single word. Just the same thing. And McCloy knew he'd been done to. And that was done about eight days or nine days after I spoke. This was a Sunday morning program, as soon as it was off the air, he was on the phone with the president of CBS demanding an investigation of how this was done. And they came with the shooting logs and showed him that they had talked to me on this day, and I had said this, and they had talked to me that day, I'd said this. It just followed that was the thing to do, and it was. And he knew he'd been had, but he didn't know how, and they beat the rap, but he raised hell. And they were really called on the carpet.

TI: That's a good story.

RD: It's your exclusive, not told before.

TI: [Laughs] Good.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: One other... no, we talked about that. Any other stories from redress?

RD: Well, I was very impressed with the work of the coram nobis folks. They were on the phone to me a lot, and they asked good questions. And I was so pleased that they got that stuff done. It was, I think, very important. Let me talk -- this may be a good time to do it -- I'm thinking about this because last night I got a request to go to the University of Minnesota for the fiftieth anniversary of the Immigration History Research Center there and give a talk. And we went back and forth by email about what I should talk about, and I want to talk about the work I've been doing, which he said, "Well, why don't you first talk about the history of your work?" So what I'm going to do is I'm talking largely about The Japanese American Cases book, and I'm going to point out that I have really told the Japanese American cases three times in print at great length, and that some people might say one of these days I might get it right. But they were very different books. The first book, Concentration Camps USA, was a door-opener. I had to lay out in absolutely meticulous historical detail the whole process of how it happened and the results of that. And that, of course, came out in 1970. When it came time to do a second book, and Hill and Wang came to me -- actually a historian who was editing a series for them who came and gave a talk at the University of Cincinnati approached me, would I do a book on Japanese Americans for that series? So I did a story that became Prisoners Without Trial. That was a book written for a different purpose. Redress had already taken place, and the world was very different. Where you stand depends on what you see. Stand on the wrong side of the mountain, the wrong side of the Olympics, you'll never see the Pacific Ocean. So by 1984 -- I can't remember the exact date, it's later than that -- Prisoners Without Trial, first edition.

TI: First edition 1993.

RD: 1993. So here we are, almost a quarter century later, well, the world looked very different. Redress has happened. And I had to deal with the whole question of could it happen again. I dealt with that in the first book, but now we'd gone through all kinds of other things, Vietnam had happened. And then right after 9/11 or shortly after 9/11, Hill and Wang wanted a second edition. So I updated it again, it's still the same story, and it's very little different told. The book I've just finished, The Japanese American Cases, is in a legal history series. Mostly legal history is dealing with lawyers; I'm much more interested in plaintiffs. And I hung this book very much as a way of telling the story of the Japanese Americans through the experiences of Gordon, of Fred, and Min. And I knew all three of them, and I knew Gordon very well. I didn't know Mitsuye, and she wouldn't talk to me or anybody else. She was a quiet woman; just wanted to be left alone. I talk more about her than most people do, but I can't say certain things. But her daughter was a grown woman before she knew her mother was a hero. And she's very important. But it's largely through them, then later I look at the coram nobis version and talk about them. Then I look at the renunciants and talk about some of them, particularly one couple. And then I need to talk about 9/11 and Guantanamo. So we've got different things to look at. But the basic facts remain the same; I haven't changed my opinion about anything.

TI: So this last one, you're really making linkages to other... linking the Japanese American incarceration to things like 9/11, Guantanamo.

RD: Well, I've always tried to make those linkages. Early on, a very, very smart friend, when I was writing Concentration Camps, said, "You know, you must never write about this event that has a happy ending," and I haven't. I always try to raise at the end the point that bad things continue to happen in a democracy, etcetera, etcetera, and that's one of the ongoing lessons of the Japanese Americans. So this book will really be sort of a fourth take, or maybe there's a second and a half take, since there are two versions of Prisoners Without Trial. And there are other places where I've talked about, I've talked about some of the details, military details in Asian America, but that's really a broader book. But it is sort of unusual for a historian to return to essentially the same subject in three different books.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Well, and then your current work on Tule Lake.

RD: Well, that's another story.

TI: Yes, we'll save that for the next interview.

RD: So this book is out in 2013, so that means over a period of forty-three years, I've told this story essentially three different ways.

TI: And how has the story changed for you?

RD: Well, one change is that I now know more about Tule Lake than I knew until very recently, and that I had been too accepting of what the general consensus was about Tule Lake. I knew that Tule Lake was a problem, I've been trying to get people to write a Tule Lake book for a long time and never succeeded, so I have to do it myself, though I've got help. You know that, don't you?

TI: Uh-huh.

RD: And I'm trying to tell the Tule Lake story from a variety of perspectives, but I'm looking for things to talk about. I've dug up... there's a notorious doctor there who was beating up patients, raising hell, and hated Japanese. But I've got the papers of his successor, who was a very, very different fellow. Barbara dug up this memoir of a government official who was one of those people who went to work for the WRA as sort of a volunteer of conscience. He would be very different from the typical WRA. So that's one thing that's different in this book. The other thing is that I talk about these individuals in a greater way. I talk about the lawyers, I talk about the trials, but it's all part of a single history narrative. There's very little about the 442nd; it's there.

TI: So as you were talking, what occurred to me, what came to mind is it seems like one shift also is you're writing more about the people, the individuals, you know them. Versus I think when you first started, I remember in the first interview you talked about how Concentration Camps USA really wasn't about the community or the individuals in the community, it was really about the oppressor, the government who had done this. So there's that shift. You brought up the military, 442. How do you see their story as part of this overall story, the incarceration story? Where does that fit in this story? Because when I think of the amount of effort going on in the community today to document and keep the story alive, there's almost two paths: there's one focusing more on the incarceration experience and the overall happenings there, and linking to, very much similar to your work, but there's also another track that focuses on primarily the 442 and what they did in Europe.

RD: Except that most of the stuff that was published underplays the role of Hawaiians in the 442, and overemphasizes the role of... because the numbers are very different as you know.

TI: Right, yes.

RD: This is a Hawaiian story, largely. And there's a whole question of the MIS. The 442 is important. I think it certainly... the image of the 442, the support that came eventually from veterans organizations, not just 442 veterans, but veterans organizations, was a factor of more than a little significance in the Congressional vote. The whole business that Linda's talked about so well in the names of Hood River. And that was very important. Didn't turn veterans organizations around immediately, but it certainly helped. And I think, unfortunately, that if a significant number of Nisei had not volunteered, the whole redress story might be different.

TI: But as a historian looking at what happened, so redress is really important in terms of... what question am I asking here? I'm trying to get a sense of maybe how unique the 442 story is, and MIS story, in terms of, as a historian, the uniqueness of that. Because it's clear to me the World War II incarceration was something that needs to be understood and remembered from sort of a constitutional perspective, democratic ideals, and how these men, especially from the West Coast who went to camps and then volunteered, is a very dramatic story, and helped maybe later on in having the government apologize for what happened. How did those all fit? When you talk about things like, say, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay, that's where I'm trying to understand how these things...

RD: Where they fit is that the democracies can't be trusted in crisis. When you combat something, you often wind up using the same methods of fighting. We complain about terror, but the government clearly terrorizes a presumed hostile ethnic community. They don't throw bombs; they don't have to. They've got jails and places worse than jail. There's at least been a certain moderation of the all but unanimous support of the incarceration the Japanese Americans encountered. There was significant resistance, and insignificant resistance to what we're doing, even to what are clearly bad people. Those guys down at Guantanamo are not Boy Scouts. Some of them apparently were picked up by accident, but that's another story; that's just incompetent police work or military work. But that's one of the differences. It's really in some ways harder to defend bad guys than it is good guys, but even bad guys are entitled to due process. So it's very complicated. And modern media complicates it even more. There are all sorts of problems with the contemporary media, but it's certainly not possible to have the kind of unanimity or near unanimity that occurred in the Second World War. The technology is just too different. There are too many ways of getting stuff out there, and then we got these organized leakers. And it's funny because it now seems that this latest leaker didn't really get, and probably didn't try to get, the stuff that the government listened to on people. What he got was the government's records of what it was doing. Maybe those weren't protected as well, or maybe they were. I really think that they've got a machine there that nobody knows how to control, and they're paying people all kinds of money to do so. Nobody has revealed what this guy was being paid.

TI: And we're talking about Snowden, who recently leaked --

RD: Edward J., isn't it?

TI: Yes.

RD: But I imagine that he got a pretty penny. And when Congress finds out about it, there's going to be another minor explosion. But this Booz Hamilton outfit, like its predecessors, Blackwater... although there's no evidence that Booz Hamilton did anything that the government didn't want them to do, and the Blackwater people just ran wild and did what they wanted to do, but that's another story. But these guys aren't tough guys, they're bureaucrats and technicians. They don't use a gun or a dagger, they use a USB drive. [Laughs]

TI: And computers. That's interesting.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Densho. All Rights Reserved.