This year marks the 70th year of the closing of the World War II incarceration camps (JACL’s “Power of Words”) that imprisoned thousands of Japanese American civilians under inhumane conditions and threat of violence. Yet, this shameful and racist episode of American history still receives scant attention in our history classrooms. The vast majority of Americans know that our government incarcerated Japanese American families behind barbed wire fences, but know precious little else about it.
Yet, Japanese American incarceration is of particular relevance given today’s political climate. The growing global presence of fundamentalist terrorists – who falsely justify their violence with appropriated references to the Islamic faith, yet who just last week took the lives of hundreds of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in various parts of the world — has lead to intense Islamophobia. Our world once again stands at a precipice: we find ourselves once more ready to commit the unforgivable sin of failing to distinguish between our enemy’s heinous violence, and their race or faith. We again find ourselves in danger of persecuting our innocent neighbours as an expression of our grief-turned-unforgivably-racist-rage. Already, our politicians suggest with possible sincerity that we round up American Muslims and house them in camps – “for our own protection”.
“Allegiance” — a musical written by Jay Kuo and inspired by the experiences of former Tule Lake incarceree, famed Star Trek actor, and vocal Japanese American community advocate George Takei – opened this month on Broadway in New York City; it had previously opened in San Diego in 2012. “Allegiance” challenges us to learn about the camps not as artifacts of history, but through the lens of the lives torn asunder by them; and for this specific moment in the global War on Terror, this story seems particularly poignant and timely.
Retired US Army General Wesley Clark — who ran unsuccessfully to represent the Democratic party in the 2004 presidential primaries — said in an interview on Friday to MSNBC that he believes it is time for America to once more incarcerate its citizens in concentration camps (see JACL’s “Power of Words” Handbook), as the American government once did during World War II.
A little more than two years ago, George Takei headlined the original musical “Allegiance” which appeared in San Diego’s Old Globe theatre for a week in September of 2012. “Allegiance” tells the story of a Japanese American family and the love and loss they face during internment and imprisonment in World War II American concentration camps, and is based on stories from Takei’s childhood.
Now, “Allegiance” is announcing that in the wake of its sold-out performances in 2012 in San Diego, the muscial is returning… and this time to Broadway! “Allegiance” will be opening November 8, 2015 on the stage of the Shubert Theatre, with preview performances to start October 6.
I am particularly excited by this news given the current state of Asian Americans in musicals. The “Allegiance” website notes that with its Broadway opening, “Allegiance” will become the first musical with a predominantly Asian American lead cast to play on Broadway since Oscar and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, which was revived for Broadway by noted Asian American playwright David Henry Hwang in 2002. More recently, Broadway has hosted a production of David Henry Hwang’s play “Chinglish”, which also featured a mostly Asian American-led cast.
Last week, I posted about a mind-numbingly horrible segment aired by Fox News’ Cashin’ In regarding anti-Muslim profiling. In it, hedge fund manager Jonathan Hoenig made the following commentary:
This was commentary that could only be interpreted as full-throated support for Japanese American internment and the murder of thousands of Japanese civilians when executed in the pursuit of American military victory; Hoenig rationalizes therefore that anti-Muslim profiling is similarly justified (video of full original segment after the jump). Hoenig’s logic is so unspeakably flawed and immoral as to demand an accounting.
I don’t even know where to begin. I really don’t. So, let’s just start at the beginning, shall we?
Last week, Fox News anchor Eric Bolling of Cashin’ In organized what he dubbed was his “most controversial” segment yet: Bolling invited on four guests to build a collective argument asserting that it was “finally” time to institute anti-Muslim profiling. Oh, yeah.
Bolling wasn’t wrong about one thing (in the midst of being wrong about most things): this segment was certainly controversial. A few other words jump to mind, too — like, “underthought”, “ill-advised”, “fact-starved”, “racist”, and “oh dear God, why?”. This segment made headlines this past week because one guest, hedge fund manager and proud Ayn Randian Jonathan Hoenig, declared that it was time to profile Muslims because something-something-Hiroshima-and-Japanese American-internment. Oh, yeah.
And while this might be the most obviously offensive bullshit uttered in this concentrated five minutes of intense stupid, it wasn’t the only offensive bullshit in there. Not by a long shot. No, the whole segment was like a monsoon of offensive bullshit flooding from their mouths: a veritable torrent of racist verbal diarrhea (video after the jump).
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!