So, Kris is currently away in North Carolina for work, as well as to apartment hunt for the move in early August. Of course, for me, not only does this mean getting the bed all to myself, but it also means that I can watch all those movies that Kris hates when I watch. Whenever I watch movies that make me blubber like an idiot, or sputter with rage, poor Kris always has to bring me back to normal, so I try and watch those movies only when he’s not around, sparing him from having to deal with me.
In this vein, I recently watched :”Snow Falling on Cedars” for the first time in years. I had watched it when it first came out, and remembered being upset over the way that things were handled (not by the film, but in a historical sense), but looking back as an adult with everything that has been going on politically in the past decade or so, it made me even more ragey (yes, that’s now a word). There are a number of wonderful bits in this movie. One of my favorites is the closing arguments delivered by the defense attorney.
Here’s my rant…we, as Americans, pride ourselves on being the bastion of democracy and equality in the world. I’m not going to go off on my tangent about the fact that we’re not really a democracy at all right now. Someone remind me of that later, please. Anyway, despite this blaring contention of equality, we have a really crappy history of inequality. Everyone knows about the race issues that arose from slavery and the Civil Right’s Movement, but very few people talk about or seem to remember our other atrocities.
As much as I am not a fan of Bill Clinton in many ways, he was the first member of our government to apologize for what we did to Japanese Americans during World War II. The FIRST. In 1993, half a century after the fact. That is deplorable. We took citizens and their property, placed them in “internment camps” based solely on the fact that they were different. All the while, we were fighting against the Third Reich, claiming to be fighting for freedom. And guess what guys, internment camps was simply a different way of saying concentration camps (but no, we couldn’t, and still can’t, use that term, because that’s what the Nazis did, and the Nazis were BAD). Well, sorry to hit you with the ugly truth, but America we were BAD too.*
I realize that there were people at the time (and since) who spoke out against this as unjust, un-American, and whatnot, but unfortunately, they were hugely overborne by the silent masses who stood by. Or by the vocal and horrible masses who pushed for and encouraged these acts.
We did it to the Native Americans, we did it to the Japanese, we went on a psychotic hunt for Communists in the 1950s. And now we’re doing it to Muslims, Middle Eastern people, and anyone who seems to disagree with the government.
Why is it that we, as a people who supposedly value truth, freedom, and equality, are constantly letting fear and hatred form national policy?
The saying “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (whatever its provenance) holds true here. If we consider our hypocrisy throughout our entire history, we must start to consider how other countries (both allies and not) view us. We are a country that proclaims equality and freedom, and yet was the last Western country to outlaw slavery. We are a country that flaunts its freedoms in the faces of others, yet continually reelect politicians who take away our freedoms.
Who are we as a nation? Shouldn’t we be judging ourselves first, instead of other countries for their issues? Let’s fix ourselves before we try to fix others. Let’s stop doing nothing, and actively start making the world a better place for our children. A more compassionate and open-minded place.
*Note, I just looked this up, and apparently the process was started with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, but no formal public apology was made at that time. Also, that act specifically excluded any foreign-born Japanese prisoners from receiving any restitution. So the process was formalized and concluded in 1993. But still.