W. Edward Chynoweth (letter Dec. 6) argues that race prejudice was not a factor in the internment of Japanese Americans. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese American men of draft age were reclassified "4-C, enemy alien," not eligible for military service. When the War Department reinstated eligibility, it created racially segregated military units, the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which served with distinction in the European theater.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy stated in his dissent in the Korematsu case, "I dissent, therefore, from this [policy of exclusion and internment] legalization of racism. Racial discrimination in any form ... is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States."
War brings out the best and worst in people. We should also remember the kindness of organizations like the American Friends Service Committee and many individuals. Locally, Charles Pashayan took care of Minoru Omata's neighboring farm during the war. His son, Chip, became a congressman from central California and was the first Republican in the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the Redress Bill, which provided a presidential apology to those interned.
Japanese American Citizens League