LOS ANGELES — In their Sunday, December 11, 2016 edition, the Los Angeles Times published two reader letters in their Travel section that criticized Caroline A. Miranda’s November 28, 2016 story, “Our National Parks Can Also Be Reminders Of America’s History Of Race And Civil Rights.”
The letters essentially claimed that the incarceration of Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents in American concentration camps during World War II was justified and that those incarcerated posed a threat to national security. One letter even equated Japanese Americans with Japanese nationals, asserting that there was no difference between American citizens of Japanese ancestry and the Japanese military.
Decades of scholarly research, not to mention a federal commission, have determined that none of that was even close to the truth, yet the L.A. Times chose to publish the two letters, supposedly in the spirit of providing “balance.”
We question how balance can be achieved by publishing content that has been proven many times over to be totally false and even worse, rooted in racism.
Just prior to midnight on December 12, the L.A. Times posted the following on their Twitter feed (@LATimes): “2 letters published in today’s L.A. Times Travel section did not meet editorial standards. Our Readers Rep. will address on her blog Monday.”
As we posted in response on our Twitter feed, @manzanarcomm, “This deserves more than a ‘blog post.’”
“Typically, we’d welcome any opportunity to discuss, debate or study what our families endured during World War II,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “But the flawed assumptions, the lack of anything even closely resembling factual information and even worse, the primitive understanding of what happened to our community exhibited in these letters makes it impossible to engage in any type of meaningful discussion.”
“I fear these letters are yet another example of our current political climate, where well established facts are questioned or simply dismissed as opinion, and where the dusting off of archaic, discarded theories is the order of the day,” added Embrey. “Respected and reputable institutions like the Los Angeles Times must not relax basic journalistic standards. We, as a society, must not allow our political and social discourse to be dominated by those who have no regard for our Constitution and who are willing to ignore the fundamental principles of our democracy in the name of patriotism and national security.”
The Manzanar Committee believes that a post on a rather obscure blog on the L.A. Times web site, rather than a statement published in the Travel section, is both inappropriate and insufficient.
“That the L.A. Times published these letters in the first place is unconscionable,” said Embrey. “We believe an apology for this disservice to its readers and especially to all those impacted by the unconstitutional, racist acts of the United States Government during World War II is due. Furthermore, we believe a statement correcting the blatantly inaccurate information contained in these letters is warranted, and that it should be published in both the print and online editions of the Travel section. A blog post is insufficient.”
“Nothing less is acceptable from a newspaper that many consider to be one of the finest in the world,” added Embrey. “We trust that the L.A. Times will act accordingly and without delay.”
The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information, check out our web site at https://manzanarcommittee.org call us at (323) 662-5102, and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
LEAD PHOTO by Mary Urashima.
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The Japanese Americans have gone through ENOUGH from the USA. Making them leave their belongings behind, besides their homes and businesses. We should praise them for being courageous, loyal & respectful. I live in Seattle, WA, so I know what we did to the Japanese Americans. I volunteered for three years at the Panama Hotel in the International District. Many People left their belongings at the Hotel and never came back for them. We should HONOR them!!!!! Sincerely, Faith Beatty
Thank you, so much for your support and comment, Ms Beatty. Your first hand recollections are invaluable to keeping the truth about the shameful, yet still prevalent, existence of race hate that our new president elect has unfortunately revived. Perhaps that will be for the better, as the closeted racists are emboldened to reveal themselves. It is honest and true patriots, like you, who give these less enlightened the opportunity for others to help them see the error of their thinking and ways.
Selected letters sent to readers.representative@LATimes.com will supposedly be printed in the 12/18 Travel section.
Kudos for your timely, thoughtful, informative, and understandably irate response to the LA Times’ inept handling of the ignorant letters that white-wash the ugly realities in the mass imprisonment of over 110,000 Nikkei (Japanese Americans) in a vast gulag of concentration camps.
My family has long respected the L.A. Times and my father, who was a camp survivor, included the L.A. Times as part of his daily routine. The L.A. Times damaging letters that attempts to justify the incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII is a great injustice to all surviving family members and future generations of the internment camps. The letters/statements are also directly opposed to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law. The 1988 Act includes the following statement of intent to:
1) Acknowledge the fundamental injustice of the evacuation, relocation, and internment of United States citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II
2) Apologize on behalf of the people of the United States for the evacuation, relocation, and internment of such citizens and permanent resident aliens
3) Provide for a public education fund to finance efforts to inform the public about the internment of such individuals so as to prevent the recurrence of any similar event;
The letters the LA Times posted contain comments that are contrary to the decades of dedicated work and educational efforts of the Japanese American community and are a step back instead of forward to understanding one another as Americans.
The Los Angeles Times published the following in the December 18, 2016 Travel section in their print and web editions and they met our demands. We appreciate their quick, timely response, and that they accepted full responsibility for their gross error in judgment and their lack of journalistic integrity. We also appreciated their candor in our dialogue with them on this matter.