A few months after the Pearl Harbor attack, the FBI took my grandfather away from his wife and seven children and confined him and hundreds of other Buddhist priests apart from their families and congregations. Their main “crime” was to be leaders of an enemy religion. There was no evidence produced to implicate my grandfather or any Buddhist priest of wrongdoing.
Cameras remained contraband at the camps located within the military district called the Western Defense Command. But Wyoming was outside that zone, and by the spring of 1943, cameras were permitted. The WRA recognized that allowing internees to take pictures was a way of helping them reclaim some sense of a normal life and some of their dignity.
Most Americans have been inoculated against the notion that our country can behave like an empire. Therefore, some readers may well find the focus on empire unsettling. After all, we are regularly reminded by our politicians, clergy, teachers, and the media that the U.S. is an exceptional country. We don’t do empire. That’s for the bad guys. We like to believe that whatever America does internationally is for the common good of humanity. As authors, all we ask is that readers consider our general definition of empire on its historical merits and give our treatment of the U.S. case a fair hearing.
Yesterday’s All Things Considered on NPR aired a story about recent efforts by marine preservationists to survey and document sunken German U-boats off Cape Hatteras, NC. Adam Hochberg talks to both a former German sailor and a local Hatteras resident who recalls hearing the torpedoes from the u-boats attacking American vessels. This is the history …