Densho Digital Repository
JACL Philadelphia Oral History Collection
Title: William Marutani Interview
Narrator: William Marutani
Interviewer: Herbert J. Horikawa
Location: Medford, New Jersey
Date: October 23, 1994
Densho ID: ddr-phljacl-1-14

<Begin Segment 1>

HH: This is the 23rd of October. We are recording this session today in Medford Leas, New Jersey. What is your full name?

WM: My full name is William, and if you want the Japanese name, it's Masaharu Marutani.

HH: And the name of your spouse?

WM: Victoria Sadako Takagi.

HH: And then how many siblings do you have?

WM: I have three siblings other than myself. Two brothers and a girl, sister.

HH: And at this point, do you have any grandchildren?

WM: Oh, yes, we have five.

HH: Oh, I should ask you, how many children do you have?

WM: Eight. Eight children.

HH: Okay, and five grandchildren.

WM: Five grandchildren.

HH: By any chance do you have any great grandchildren?

WM: No, not yet.

HH: Where were you born and what is your present age?

WM: I was born in Kent, Washington, and my present age is seventy-one.

HH: And your parents' names?

WM: My parents' name is George Marutani, Goroko in Japanese. My mother's name was Haruno Marutani Oda, was her maiden name. They're both from Hiroshima, by the way.

HH: I see. You said that you were born in the town of Kent?

WM: Kent, Washington, outside of Seattle.

HH: What kind of town or village was that?

WM: Farming community, and when I was in that town, it was known as the lettuce capital of the world.

HH: I see. So it was an agricultural community. And what kind of schools did you attend there?

WM: I attended elementary up through junior high school in Kent. It's a small town of around five thousand, and it's probably still the same, five thousand.

HH: Have you visited?

WM: Oh, yes, a number of times I've visited Kent.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

HH: When, with the start of the Second World War, a number of changes took place. What would be a series of events that you experienced following the declaration of war to World War II?

WM: Well, I was enrolled at the University of Washington at the time, and in my freshman year, I was ejected from that course and had to go to camp. And from there, I think the story is probably the same as many other Nisei at that period of time of my age.

HH: I see. Did you go to an assembly center and to a camp?

WM: I went to Pinedale in California outside of Fresno, and then was moved up to Tule Lake where I spent about two, two and a half months, and then I got out of there to go back to school in the fall of 1942.

HH: So you got out in fall of...

WM: '42.

HH: '42.

WM: Yes.

HH: To go to school.

WM: Right.

HH: Where did you go?

WM: I went to Dakota Wesleyan University, a Methodist college in South Dakota.

HH: I see. This is in, wouldn't be in the town of Mitchell, South Dakota, would it?

WM: It is, actually. Corn palace capital of the world.

HH: Yeah, I think I've seen that. [Laughs] And when you're finished with that particular college, where did you go, what did you do after that?

WM: Well, I had volunteered for the U.S. Navy in '43, in the spring of '43, and was rejected because I was deemed an alien, classified C-4. So I did what I could and I went back to continue with my studies. And in 1944 I was drafted and trained in the infantry.

HH: I see. And so what was your experience like in the army?

WM: Well, I trained with a bunch of fellows who came up from Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, southern boys, so to speak. And there was nothing particularly significant about that except I remember on one fifty-mile march, they were going to try to make me wear my legs off, and I wouldn't be able to stay up with all the long-legged fellows. Well, they were wrong.

HH: So you were not with a Japanese American outfit?

WM: I was not.

HH: I see. And in the remainder of your career or in your time in the military, what did you do?

WM: Well, in 1944, was it? Ah, yes, it must have been '44, my entire company that I trained with went to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. I was scheduled to go, but I had an appointment down to Fort Benning, Officer Candidate School, which I had to work very hard for, by the way, while training. So instead of going to OCS at Fort Benning, I was shipped up to Fort Snelling up in Minnesota. And Major Rush at that time in Fort Snelling, apparently combed the records and deemed that I was eligible to enter Fort Snelling. Whether that was true or not, I went there, I was shipped up there.

HH: So that was the language school. Did you have a very strong background in the Japanese language prior to that?

WM: Absolutely not.

HH: So you were not literate?

WM: I was not totally illiterate in Japanese, but close to it.

HH: So the Japanese that you learned then was mostly through the military?

WM: Correct. Especially reading, writing.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

HH: And then as a consequence of that, what happened to you after you finished the language school?

WM: Well, again, it's the story of my life, something interrupts. My company was shipped off to Japan, I think that's where it was. But I was held back by the post commandant, Colonel Kai Rasmussen, and what he did before letting me go is gave me a second lieutenant's commission. And so I went over with a shaved head.

HH: How did that commission come about? You usually had to go through OCS or something.

WM: Yeah, I was supposed to go down to OCS, remember I told you earlier after I finished my basic? And here I am, how many months later, I don't know what, at this point. But I was ready to be shipped out a T-5 where I'd earned two stripes by now. Yeah, I thought somehow that was unjust, and I registered that complaint to Colonel Rasmussen's office. And instead of court martialing me, he gave me a commission.

HH: [Laughs] I see. I know that you eventually were shipped overseas.

WM: I was.

HH: And that happened just after that?

WM: Yeah.

HH: And what did you do overseas, or where did you go?

WM: Well, I was shipped first to Tokyo, of course. And out of Tokyo I was shipped to, I was assigned to the 441st Counterintelligence Corps. And my job boiled down to, eventually, was to screen out Communists coming into Japan as repatriates from Manchuria. And so we were screening out and determining what kind of a strategy that the Communists were having, had at that point to try to communize the entire Japanese islands.

HH: I see. And was that the major part of your work while you were there?

WM: That was a major part of it, although I did engage in a number of other things. One was there was supposedly a plot to assassinate General MacArthur, and the ringleaders were said to live in Nara. So I conducted a raid in Nara one time, none of this was true, as it turned out. Another one was the Japanese had hoarded a lot of gold up in Mie-ken, I think it is, in Japan, which is right next to Wakayama. So I took a crew of armed men up the river, in a propeller driven boat, by the way, because the waters were very shallow, and we checked that out. Then the third event was one where we received reports that the Japanese forces had hidden a whole lot of arms in an arms factory outside of Osaka city itself. So again we conducted a raid with Japanese policemen, our own troops, and that turned out to be a dud as well.

HH: How long did you spend in the military?

WM: Oh, goodness, I think I spent about three and a half years.

HH: So you were eventually discharged.

WM: Right.

HH: And what did you do then?

WM: Well, then I qualified to get into law school, I went back and got my, finished by B.A. degree, I went on to law school at the University of Chicago.

HH: I see. So, prior to going into the military, you didn't quite finish your bachelors.

WM: That's quite correct.

HH: Then you finished it, then you went on to University of Chicago law school.

WM: Right.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

HH: And then as far as your law career is concerned, then how would you describe that?

WM: Well, first of all, I took law, not to become a lawyer. Because I figured nobody's going to hire an Oriental lawyer except Orientals, and they don't pay very well anyway. But I went into law primarily as a background to get into business. I figured that if I'm going to go into business, it won't hurt to be a lawyer at the same time. So I applied to come to the Delaware valley area, which I did, into Philadelphia. And at that time, in order to become a lawyer, to be licensed, you had to spend some clerkship time with that law firm. I applied to several law firms, and McCoy, Evans and Lewis was one of them. I had an offer from three different law firms, but I decided to it with McCoy, Evans. This was only for the preceptorship now, six months at that time. Well, as things worked out, before the six months were up, they offered me a job as an associate. And the offer was not stupendous by today's standards, but it's more than I had ever earned in my younger days before that time, so I took it. And then eventually I still wanted to go into business, by the way. But eventually they offered me a partnership again at much more money than I had ever seen before. So I took the partnership and spent some time there until 1975 when I was given an appointment to the Common Pleas bench by Judge Milton Shapp.

HH: Before we get to that, one of the things that I recall that you were involved in, was in voter registration. Can you briefly give an idea of what you...

WM: Well, what happened was that I served as a civil rights lawyer in 1965, I think it was, down in Louisiana. Although in '66, the following year, I went back again, this time in Mississippi. It was in Mississippi that the voter registration brouhaha arose. There was a young African American down there in Mississippi who was registering other African Americans to vote. And apparently the social structure didn't count with that kind of thing, some Black boy doing this kind of thing. And so they rigged up a whole lot of charge against him of grand theft, and I defended that boy in the courtroom in Black Hawk, Mississippi, as I recall. Well, we all knew --

HH: That experience, you're doing, being involved in a trial under those circumstances in Mississippi.

WM: Well, looking back now, I'm not so sure I would do it, because I was kind of foolish. Because, frankly, it was at the risk of my life. I mean, they threw a bomb, a pipe bomb at our law firm and blew the entire outside in and out. The only thing about me in particular is because of my ethnicity, I was kind of a strange looking creature to everybody down there. Blacks they knew, whites they knew. I'm talking about the power structure down there. And so they didn't know quite what to make of me, was I Black or was I white? And I wasn't so sure myself which I was closer to. And that's illustrated by a point in Mississippi, not too far from Black Hawk. I got hungry during the daytime, I was driving through the countryside to interview some witnesses. So I looked on the map and saw a little town not too far from where I was. And I drove into that town, down the slope of a hill, and you could make a movie set right out of that place. One gas station, dry goods store, caf�, that's all it was, and wooden sidewalks. Going to the caf� now, I'm not so sure, I know one is white and other is black, and I'm not down there crusading, that's not my job. My job is to do lawyering, not to raise Cain down there. It was not a sit-in as far as I was concerned, so I didn't know which door to go through. If I guessed wrong, I think something physical might occur to me. So I pondered a bit, and a fellow was walking by, a white man was walking by and I said, "Sir, where's the door to this caf�?" I knew where the door -- actually, I was asking which one should I go through? He pointed at one and it was a "white" door. So I walked in, and there were a bunch of fellows around, literally sitting around a coal stove like you see in the movies. I guess they call them "crackers," I don't mean to demean them. And there's a fellow behind the counter, and I was hoping I went through the right door. And before I ate, I asked the man there, "Where's the toilet?" I wanted to wash my hands. He pointed though the door and I went in there. And as I was relieving myself and then washed my hands, there was a bang on the door. I said, "Oh, boy, this is it, I've come to the wrong place." And I said, "Yeah?" He said, "I'm leaving a towel for you outside to wipe your hands." And sure enough, after I opened the door and looked, there was a clean linen towel. I left a tip that was bigger than my meal. All I got was a hamburger, by the way.

HH: And then that was your experience in Mississippi, but then you had another trip in Louisiana?

WM: Yeah, I was in Louisiana, and the Bogalusa schools in Washington Parish had not been desegregated. New Orleans itself had been, but out in the boondocks they were still doing it the same old way. So we had filed a suit against the Bogalusa School Board, actually the Washington Parish, almost called Terminus. And it was in federal court down in New Orleans. And I tried to work -- to make a long story short -- I tried to work out a deal with the Bogalusa School District. I felt that if I asked for or demanded immediate desegregation, at that point, there'd be things flying all over the place. So I worked out a deal whereby we would it in gradually. First graders desegregated, second graders the following year. So that eventually, over a twelve-year period, the whole system would be desegregated. We worked that out, and with the attorney general, deputy attorney general of Louisiana, and I've often wondered what happened to those folks. I wanted to go back and talk to some of the folks and see how it worked out.

HH: But at least at that time, they bought that plan.

WM: Yeah.

HH: Incidentally, what happened to that young man that you tried to defend in Mississippi?

WM: Oh, he was found guilty, which is what we expected. And then I asked that my client be released on the same bond he was on at that point. The judge granted that request, and as I walked out the courtroom door though swinging doors, the sheriff was standing there. And the sheriff served him with another charge of not paying for goods, a debtors debt. And he led them away to a cell because he had no bond for that, he was being arrested on a new offense, and I thought, oh my god, what are they doing? I thought that possibly they were thinking I might win on this case, and I thought I might win, too, by the way, that I had just tried. And as this boy was being led away -- and when I say "boy," he's in his twenties -- as he was being led away, he said, "Please help me, please help me." And I felt so sorry about that, that I went to the clerk's office, court clerk's office, to see who had brought the charges. And I tracked the fellow down and he agreed to withdraw the charges. And so my man got free out of jail, and I know it sounds a little melodramatic, but I think as the years passed, things take on a different hue. And I remember seeing him running through the dust, his coattails flying, and saying thanks, and I don't know whatever happened after that. But his charge on the burglary, that initial charge would have been reversed because subsequently, the Supreme Court of the United States says, "You may not exclude women from the jury." And under Mississippi law, it was an all-men jury. And I had filed an objection, lodged an objection to the fact that the jury voir dire was not open to women as well.

HH: This event, was that prior to or after the shooting of Medgar Evers?

WM: I forgot when he was shot, but I'll tell you what. There was a woman by the name of Violet.

HH: Yes, she was killed.

WM: From Michigan. I read that article in the paper and I thought, how tragic that in a country like our country, women can be shot down in cold blood. And there was a picture of her children, I remember, seating on the couch crying. And I felt that that was just terrible that something like that happened. The other thing that impelled me was Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham jail. Somebody gave that to me and I read it, and it really moved me. It was one of the finest pieces of articulation I've seen in the English language.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

HH: So after these experiences you had, each occasion after that, you went back to Philadelphia to practice law?

WM: Yes, right.

HH: You're not a criminal lawyer.

WM: I'm not a criminal lawyer.

HH: But you were doing, at least in Mississippi, you were...

WM: Practicing criminal law, the charges were some kind of a crime. Trumped up charges, by the way.

HH: So you went back to practicing law in Philadelphia. What kinds of things moved you to seek a position on the bench? Or did they come to you instead?

WM: No, actually, one of my partners suggested that, "Why don't you take a shot at it?" And I thought, well, if he thinks that way, maybe I should. And again, it was kind of a challenge. By that time, Jews were on the bench, women were on the bench, let's see, yes, there was a Black African American woman on the bench. By the way, as Asians, one of my theories is that we come last. You'll always find that unless the Jews and the African Americans first entered whatever the hallowed halls may be, and women, we won't get in. It's only after these people make it that we're allowed.

HH: I see. And so you had the appointment from Governor Shapp to be on the Common Pleas, and judging Common Pleas.

WM: Right.

HH: But that was, you're filling somebody else's term on the bench.

WM: That's right.

HH: You had to run on your own after that.

WM: Yes, I did, in '77. I was appointed in '75 and ran on my own in '77.

HH: What was that experience like, actually running for a place on the bench?

WM: Yeah, it's an awkward campaign because a judge, you're restricted to many, many things, and many things that a regular candidate for some political office can say and do, but as a judge you're restricted. But again, I wanted to be able to... I'm not quite sure how to put this, to establish that an Asian can do just as well as anybody else, and maybe even better. So I campaigned very hard in the evenings and on weekends and during my vacation time I had. And surprisingly, much to my surprise, I came out first in the election out of a field of eleven candidates. It was boiled down to seven for the final.

HH: I understand that there might have been some confusion at the time, some people thinking that this person Marutani, might be Italian.

WM: I guess there must have been some of that, but let me tell you something about that. Two points I want to make about the ethnicity, my "Italian ethnicity." By the way, it'd be all right for me if I were Italian, but I'm not. Number one is the fact that if an Italian can win in Philadelphia County, then they ought to run nothing but Italian candidates because it's a sure winner, if that is ascribed to me, the Italian name. Point number two is to have an Italian name, however, citywide, countywide, can be a detriment. Because at that time, Mayor Rizzo, for whom, by the way, I have a great deal of affection, Mayor Rizzo was disliked by the Black African Americans in Philadelphia. And I know that they're, in some of the wards, I did very poorly among the Black wards in Philadelphia. Let me make another point about that. I think the other thing is, you see, if a white man wins an election, nobody says anything. If you have an African American winning the election, nobody says anything, but when a non-white, non-Black candidate wins, comes out on top, now you got to have an explanation. He's not a candidate who's just as good as anybody else, but he's a fluke. Let me tell you what the fluke is. The fluke is he had an Italian name. When I was appointed, they had to reconcile the difficulty, the conflict as well. One of the stories that was being circulated was that I was appointed by Governor Shapp in 1975, because 1976 was the bicentennial year, 1776 to 1976. And there'd be a lot of visitors coming from Japan through Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, et cetera. So we got to have a Japanese American up there, "One of your kind," so they can point to him and proudly say, "We have one of your kind up on the bench." And this is pure hogwash, pure hogwash.

HH: Now, when you went into law, you said earlier that it was not your intention to be a lawyer, but really go into business.

WM: Right.

HH: As you're thinking about it now, in retrospect, are you sorry that you never went full force into business?

WM: Well, of course, if you don't go into something that you thought of going into, it's very easy to say what the predictions would be. Now, to some extent, I'm sorry, because I think that, frankly, the financial rewards would have been much greater. Well, almost unlimited. I don't know whether I would have failed or just fallen flat on my face, but the law is limited to some extent, unless you become a very unusual lawyer.

HH: Would it be... what would your position be, or your viewpoint be regarding other Japanese Americans, or more generally Asian Americans, for that matter, entering the law?

WM: Well, aside from what I may think, I can tell you there's a lot coming in. And every major law firm in Philadelphia, they have one or two Asian Americans. And they did it on their own, and I think that's terrific. The society opened up its eyes, too, but if you're good, you're good, and they'll take you.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

HH: While you were a judge in the Court of Common Pleas, you were also appointed to the Presidential Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment. How did that come about?

WM: Well, after the legislation was passed to have a commission conduct hearings, there were three appointed by the Senate, three members appointed by the House of Representatives, and three by the President, Jimmy Carter at that time. And my commission is signed by Jimmy Carter, his name appears on it. But there's no question in my mind that Daniel Inouye was instrumental.

HH: What was the charge of this commission?

WM: The commission's charges were threefold. Number one, to find out what occurred, what the damages to those who were victimized, what those damages were, and thirdly, what recommendations the commission would make.

HH: Do you remember some of the other members of the commission?

WM: Oh, sure. Arthur Goldberg, a very fertile mind, former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and former Labor Secretary, I believe, and former ambassador to the United Nations. Another illustrious individual was Arthur Flemming, former cabinet member under Eisenhower, very sharp, keen mind. Father Drinan, Robert Drinan from Massachusetts, a priest was on that commission, fiery as ever. Joan Bernstein, who was General Counsel to Health Education Welfare down in Washington, D.C. Congressman Lungren who is now Attorney General in California, undoubtedly will be a candidate for Governor of California, and from there, undoubtedly will try to run for the United States presidency. There was Hugh Mitchell from the state of Washington, former congressman and former U.S. Senator, very dedicated individual. By the way, I might add something to that. I as an Asian, of course, attended every single session of the commission, plus even those conducted by the community where were invited to attend and participate. We did that in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I attended every single one of them. Hugh Mitchell also attended every single one of them, and Arthur Flemming attended every single one except maybe one where he had to fly back to Washington, D.C. because he was still chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights.

HH: There were some very, I guess, what a lot of people would call "heavy hitters" on this commission.

WM: They were, they were.

HH: Because this was a full-time panel that you were working with, it sounds like, anyway.

WM: Well, certainly down in Washington, D.C., the whole group was there, when we held hearings there, in Washington, D.C.

HH: And you traveled throughout the country and Alaska.

WM: Up to Anchorage, Alaska, because we were also going to make a recommendation on what happened to the Aleuts, the natives up in Alaska.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

HH: Are there certain kind of situations or circumstances that still stand out in your mind, things that you heard or reviewed while you were on the commission?

WM: Yeah. The things that, generally speaking, the thing that struck me was the fact that -- I have to back up and give a little bit of background -- in my time and growing up, I knew that families, if you had someone in that family who was mentally depleted, shall I say, and incompetent, you never let the public know. If your daughter or brother or whatever it is had tuberculosis or some kind of communicable disease, you never let the community know. If you're broke, you don't let 'em know. You don't do, let the community know anything that might be regarded as shameful. But I was astounded that at the commission hearings, people would appear and testify about their sister or mother being in a mental institution and how it impacted them. How his sister was stricken with tuberculosis at the time in 1942, and was unable to move out of the hospital and join the so-called "evacuation," "ejection." And that still sticks in my mind, why did they do this? They didn't have to tell it, but they did. They opened up their hearts and just said whatever was true. Some of them sat in the audience and just tears streaming down our eyes. I guess getting rid of the poison, perhaps, that they felt. Having the Issei testify, and they're telling their story of how the uprooting affected them, and how their dignity was destroyed. Now, I was also ejected, so I know what the facts were. I, several times, wished while I was sitting on the commission, I wish I didn't know that what they were telling me was true, because it wouldn't hit me in the gut so much, as hard as it did. And there were times when I choked up, I really did. I got a knot in my throat to try to keep from crying, to let the tears well up. Well, in my culture and yours too, generally everybody's, men don't cry. It's a sign of weakness to cry. And here I was constantly on the verge of tears, tears welling up, and hoping that nobody saw them. And I spent all the time just with this knot in my throat that it began to hurt, it really hurt.

I was also outraged at some of the steps that the politicians took, the way they toyed with our people, with Nikkei residing in the United States. We saw a memo signed in the government archives that in 1943, June of 1943, May or June, the government finally decided and issued a memo that there was no further excuse. "We have no excuse as to hold these people in camps." That's in '43. Did they do anything about it? No. The following spring, May or June of '44, they keep those last two digits in mind, '44. They finally let President Roosevelt know that, "Really, Mr. President, we've decided, we conclude that there's no excuse for keeping these people in camps," and yet nothing was done until December, I believe, 17th of 1944 when they announced the closing of the camps. And I asked myself, "Why? Why?" You have to remember, 1944 is an election year. Roosevelt was running for reelection, what was it, his fourth term now? And the memo indicated that maybe he would rather delay the announcement until after the elections. And you know, mentally and psychologically, I hit the roof on it. How dare these people, my country, the politicians play pawn with Japanese Americans and my parents? How dare they use them as a pawn, political pawn, to make sure that one man would be reelected for his third term? That's outrageous, incomprehensible, completely contrary to everything that's American, or should be American.

HH: And that was, but back as far as the internment was concerned, how about on the process with the commission? What kind of political maneuvering did you encounter with your findings and trying to do things with the findings and trying to do things with the findings that they had?

WM: Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. Let me back up a little bit. When one of the first reports were issued by our draftspeople on the commission, I looked at the report, I got it in Philadelphia, and then we had a commission meeting down in Washington, D.C. And I couldn't believe what that person had written, that all the trains on which we were shipped had, each car had a nurse. I don't think there was a nurse on that entire train, certainly no doctors, and so on and so on. And when I went to the commission meeting, it was everything I could do to contain myself. I said, "Where did you get this drivel?" I did not use the term "drivel." I asked the person who had drafted it, a young woman who was there, I said, "Where did you get the material in your facts to draft this?" And she said, "I got it from General DeWitt's Final Report." And I thought, oh god, terrible. But getting back to your other question about were there politics involved, if there was, I saw very little of it.

HH: Thank you for that point.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

HH: Generally speaking, I'm sure you've heard that the label put to Japanese Americans, perhaps to Asian Americans in general, regarding the "Quiet Americans." How do you feel about that label?

WM: Well, if that indicates docility, being docile and amenable to whatever somebody says, I don't think that's true. I know it's not true, it's not just a thing. You see, in our culture -- when I say "our culture," "American culture" -- in order to make sure that the listener hears what you're saying and understands what you're saying, you've got to really sometimes bang the table, I'm figuratively speaking, you can bank the table by your language, the kind of language you used. Well, in my parents' culture, it's quite to the contrary. For example, it's even true today. The Japanese won't say, "No, I won't agree to that agreement." What they will say is, "I will think about it." The message should be clear if you understand what they're saying. They're saying, "It's rude to say no, I won't do it." It's much more polite to say, "Well, I'll think about it." You have to understand that that means no in a polite fashion. Now, if these two cultures clash, if you go out there with my parents' culture and say, "I'll think about it," maybe you're going to think about it, you'll come back later. What the general American public ascribes, gives a definition to this sort of action is docility and sneaky. You don't come flat out and say no. A "devious Oriental." Well, that's too bad. Although I must tell you, frankly, even as a judge, when I wanted some things and I tried to use the more restrained approach and couldn't get anywhere, I'd revert to some good army language and tell them, I mean it. And then, only then, will they understand that I mean it.

HH: Thank you. There is another label that's often put to Asian Americans, and that is that of the "model minority." Do you have any reactions to that?

WM: Oh, sure. How dare anybody judge us by whether we're model or not model? Who designated whoever it is that's saying, "You're a model minority"? I didn't elect you, I didn't appoint you to say I'm model, you judge. This, by implication, caused the structure to be built of a superior and inferior. Only the superior says, "You're this," or, "You're that," or, "You're not this," or, "You're not that." Baloney. I mean, they have no right to do that, and I resent it as an American, as a human being, that someone arrogates to themselves this role of being a judge.

HH: Thank you very much. Is there anything you'd like to add to any of the things that we covered this afternoon?

WM: No, not particularly.

HH: Thank you very much.

WM: Not at all.

HH: It's very generous.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1994 JACL Philadelphia. All Rights Reserved.