Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Directed by Jon Osaki (2018)

Film Review

This documentary traces the US government internment of 120,000 West Coast Japanese-American citizens during World War II.

The film begins by describing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act banning Chinese immigrants, which led West Coast farmers to turn to Japanese immigrants as their primary source of cheap labor. Many Japanese would save enough money to purchase their own land in California’s Central Valley, regarded as worthless desert by Caucasian farmers because it was hard to irrigate.

Concerned about a potential Central Valley takeover by Japanese farmers, in 1924 their Caucasian neighbors successfully lobbied Congress to ban all Asian immigration.

Anti-Japanese feeling intensified following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, aggravated by the mainstream media dissemination of rumors about Japanese saboteurs collaborating via shortwave  with Japanese bombers and submarines off the coast of California.

Despite a two-year investigation by the Office of Naval Intelligence that failed to identify a single case of Japanese sabotage, the War Department heavily lobbied Roosevelt to intern Japanese American citizens as a “genetic” enemy of the US. California Attorney General (later Supreme Court Chief Justice) Earl Warren also made it a major issue in his 1942 campaign for governor.

Despite strong opposition from the Justice Department, the War Department prevailed and in February 1942 Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. The latter ordered all Japanese Americans living in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona to be stripped of their lands and imprisoned in internment camps. Congress subsequently validated the Executive Order with Public Law 503.

Three Japanese-Americans challenged the public law in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, SCOTUS upheld their internment. The decision would be overturned in 1983, based on documents in the US Archives revealing the US government had altered, suppressed, and destroyed evidence in laying out the case before the Court.

Japanese Americans would remain in internment camps until March 1946.

The film can be viewed free until June 1st, either at New Day Films or via Kanopy (by anyone with a public library card). Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine.

Hidden History: The US Wars Against Japan, Korea and Vietnam

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

By James Bradley

Back Bay Books (2015)

Book Review

This book details numerous myths about the origin of the US wars against Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Bradley begins by revealing how the Roosevelt administration was hoodwinked by the overt fascist Chiang Kai-Shek and Christian missionaries into believing China was ripe for wholesale conversion to Christianity and US-style capitalism. Deceived by Chiang’s promises to wage war against Japan,  Roosevelt poured billions into the civil war Chiang was waging with Mao Se Tung. FDR also created an illegal covert mercenary Air Force for Chiang, a major motivator in the Japanese decision to attack Pearl Harbor.

Had FDR listened to advisors who understood the strong support Mao enjoyed from China’s rural peasants, he never would have supported Chiang – or been forced to open a second front (against Japan) the US was totally unprepared for.

In addition to his greater popularity and military strength, Mao was also genuinely interested in establishing a trade relationship with the US.

According to Bradley, the civil war Mao won in 1949 was actually a war of liberation from European colonial powers, just like Kim Sung Il’s war of liberation in Korea and Ho Chi Minh’s war of liberation in Vietnam. Owing to the total ignorance of Asian society and culture, advisors in the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administration mistakenly viewed these wars of independence as part of a global communist conspiracy and military aggression the only possible response.

The China Mirage traces the  history of each of these conflicts (Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam) in a clear and compelling way, starting with the massive fortune Roosevelt’s grandfather amassed via the opium smuggling the US and UK forced on China via two opium wars.

For me the most interesting part of the book concerns the US oil/steel embargo that supposedly triggered the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to Bradley, Roosevelt opposed the embargo. It was surreptitiously enacted by members of his administration while he was at a secret meeting in Canada with Winston Churchill.