Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Paul Tsuneishi Interview
Narrator: Paul Tsuneishi
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Heart Mountain, Wyoming
Date: May 19, 1995
Densho ID: denshovh-tpaul-01-0001

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FC: The JACL and the resisters, will the JACL ever do the right thing or will it go under?

PT: My feeling about the JACL as a longtime member and person who was on the first national redress committee for JACL back in the '70s, I've been a JACL member, I've been chapter president, district council member, member of the national board. My feeling is that JACL must rid itself of its old mentality that honors people that were there at the beginning who believe the JACL's credo: "Greater Americans in a Greater America," was essentially code word for, "whiter than white." It's that kind of mentality that JACL must lose and I was not going to renew my membership this year until I met some younger members of the board, of the council that I'm in, the Pacific Southwest District Council. I talked to them in November and I asked them what they were going to do about the resisters, and I was assured that it would be no problem, within the Pacific Southwest District Council, to bring the matter up. They felt that JACL would finally honor its resolution of 1990 at the San Diego convention, when they said that there were other ways of showing apology, other than cooperating with the government, and following its leader, who was then -- and for the record, was a member of army's K-2 intelligence. And he was a gentlemen, who, along with the preponderance of the JACL leadership, said that we must cooperate with the government, we must go into the camps. And he had the gall to write a book that said, "They call me Moses." Well, the Moses I know of the Old Testament took his people out of slavery and into freedom. This Moses led us into captivity in the concentration camps, and it's that mentality that we must lose. As I said, I was not going to renew my membership, but the younger membership of my district honored their commitment to the resisters at the January 5th meeting when the chapters of that district, which represents about 25 percent of the national membership of JACL, issued an apology to the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and the resisters of conscience.

If we're going to be a viable civil rights organization by the year 2000, we have to overturn that old mentality and follow the leadership of those people who will honor a commitment to those people who were my age when I was here at Heart Mountain, when I was ninteen years old, 1-A in the draft, I went voluntarily into the service. Those other young men honored their conscience and the Constitution. And this is something that always comes up in time of war, and it's time for us to close the chapter on that dark part of our Japanese American history, and help our organization lead us into a multicultural, multiracial society that honors the individual and conscience.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1995, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.