Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Gordon Hirabayashi - Jim Hirabayashi Interview
Narrators: Gordon Hirabayashi, Jim Hirabayashi
Location: San Francisco California
Date: December 3, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon_g-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

Q: Jim, what is the lesson of Gordon's case? Well, thinking about the [inaudible] what are the lessons?

JH: What are the lessons on the case? Well, for me right now, I've been just lecturing in my classes about the case. And my general theme is that this has always been a society which has had an implicit ideology of racism regardless of what the Constitution guarantees. And so I want people to recognize this. And what we've learned from the case is that these events that really took citizenship rights away from us forty years ago, they're still, they're still alive today. Because in the rehearing of these cases, forty years subsequent to the event, the government is still dragging their feet about admitting to the wrongs. This is the feeling that I get about the rehearing cases that are currently going on.


GH: One of the observations I have with these different fights with civil liberties, is that even in 1942, when we had our discriminations and confinements and camps and so on, we had all the rights on the books. You know, when, these days, you hear citizens say, "We gotta get Congress to pass laws that would prevent this sort of thing from happening again," we had all those protections. The thing that we need, the only thing that would help us, is citizen vigilance to uphold those things. And that's the lesson I learned from the wartime case and the current coram nobis case, Vincent Chin case and so on. You gotta fight for those rights or they won't be there.

JH: And I think this is what the Sanseis are beginning to realize, and it was principally because of their support that the cases are being reheard now because the young lawyers are mostly the Sanseis that are pushing this


GH: Yeah, I think the stage is for the Sansei to carry on. The Niseis are pasturing out now, not only by age but by the kind of growing they went through. They weren't, they weren't confrontation-oriented. They were survival-oriented, and I think that was valid then. But the times are different now and so it's up to the new generation and the newer one, the Yonsei, coming in. If there is such a consciousness as Yonsei to carry this forward. I suppose, I suppose there's increasingly American citizens instead of somebody special.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.