Human Rights and the public good
At the visitor center at Manzanar National Monument, my wife and I spoke with a docent about a book of images available at their store There were images that Ansel Adams, the famous photographer of landscapes, had taken of internees over the years. Apparently, another famous portraitist, Dorothea Lange, also had taken a series of images that captured the human pain more succinctly (only such images that reflected positively were published; the others, subsequently, were not released publicly by the Government). Forty years later, after incremental policy reversals and President Ronald Reagan publicly apologizing to survivors and descendants, these sites were turned into monuments to make future Americans remember. However, racism finds other targets.
“After the attacks of 9/11, when people angrily singled out people wearing Muslim headscarf”, she said, “it was the Nisei – the children of those who had been in the relocation camps, who defended Americans of Mid-eastern decent.” They did not want the painful lessons of the past to be repeated. She identified a child’s photograph on display there in the center, from the Manzanar camp, as one who defended a Muslim woman after September 11th. Like the refugees of the last few years who fled civil wars in Libya, from ISIS in Syria, crossing the Mediterranean and interdicted in Greece and Italy, Ukrainian women and children fled the Russian invasion there. With these emigrants joining those who have been resettled in several countries including the United States, the competition for services only gets more competitive. However, these recent immigrants are learning valuable skills to support themselves, notably in healthcare, which after the global COVID pandemic have seen a large need but few new workers among the native born. In the fifty years since Vietnam, Americans of Vietnamese ancestry hold public office. Americans of Philippine ancestry serve in the military and in public services. Americans of Middle Eastern ancestry hold public office. Americans have elected and reelected a black President, Vice President, congressmen and mayors. However, the public is still being persuaded through government institutions and media conglomerates that racism is the single most prevalent problem in America.