Saturday, March 31, 2018

Walt and Milly Woodward

On February 19, 1942, the executive order (EO) 9066 promulgated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The following is the full text of this executive order –

“Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas

Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104);

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas.

I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area here in above authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.

I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.

This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order (EO) No. 8972, dated December 12, 1941, nor shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas here under.”

It ordered all Japanese American to vacate their places of residence and move en masse into concentration camps setup up to accommodate them.  This occurred in the midst of World War II after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Although the United States was already at war with Nazi Germany, no such mandate was imposed upon the many German-Americans living throughout the country.
This mass evacuation imposed a severe burden on the lives of those citizens who were forced to abandon their homes and properties for the “duration” of the war.

In 1940, Walt and Milly Woodward from Bainbridge purchased the weekly publication, the Bainbridge Review.  Two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) that precipitated the declaration of war against Japan, they pledged in a front-page editorial to, “strive to speak the truth, unafraid. whether it be on a national interest or something purely local.”
They lived up to this promise to their readership; for, the day following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, they warned that, “There is a danger of a blind, wild hysterical hatred of all persons who can trace ancestry to Japan.  That some of those persons happen to be American citizens…easily could be swept away by mob hysteria.”  They attempted to raise the awareness of their subscribers to the loyalty of their Japanese-American fellow citizens by stating in their newspaper that, “These Japanese Americans of ours haven’t bombed anybody…They have given every indication of loyalty to this nation.  They have sent…their own sons – six of them – into the United States Army.” 

As a result of the EO, 272 Japanese Americans were forced to abandon their homes, properties and friendships and moved to Manzanar – one of the ten Japanese concentrations that were erected throughout the nation.  Manzanar was located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California's Owens Valley and ultimately housed 10,000 individuals.  
This courageous and tenacious couple continued to speak out throughout the war regarding the injustice of the forced and massive relocation.  As a matter of fact, their publication was the only newspaper throughout the entire country to take such an unpopular position.  The Woodwards actually hired high school students – Paul Ohtaki, Sa Nakata, Tony Koura and Sada Omoto to report from Manzanar on the daily lives and challenges facing the inmates of that camp.
After the war, Walt and Milly Woodward remained strong local activists of the Bainbridge Island community especially in regard to local schools, construction of a new library and public transportation.  Walt ultimately stepped down as editor of the Review in 1963; the newspaper was sold in 1988.  Walt worked for a time on the editorial board of the Seattle times   Milly returned to her career as a high school teacher and died in 1989.  Walt passed away in 2001 at the age ninety-one.
Walt and Milly Woodward were recognized posthumously by the Asian Journalists Association for their outspoken opposition to the involuntary internment of Japanese-Americans. They were recipients of the, Special Recognition Award.

Finally, on March 30, 2009 (the sixty-seventh anniversary of the internment), the ground-breaking ceremony took place to begin construction of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial to honor those Japanese-Americans of Bainbridge Island who were moved into concentration camps.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Arthur Waskow

Arthur Waskow is the founder of the highly recognized and acclaimed Shalom Center (  Waskow was born in 1933 and spent his young life in Baltimore, Maryland.  As a young man he got his undergraduate degree at John Hopkins and eventually a doctorate in United States History at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1963).  At the time of his graduation, the United States was in the midst of social and political turmoil revolving around two distinct issues - the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.
From 1959 to 1961, in the midst of his academic studies, he was passionately involved in disarmament and civil-rights in the role of a legislative assistant for U.S. Congressman Robert Krastenmeier of Wisconson.  From 1961 to 1963, he was a Senior Fellow of the Peace Research Institute.  This work inspired him to help create the Institute for Policy Studies and acted as a Fellow there until 1977.
Throughout the troubling era of the sixties, Waskow was a vociferous and relentless advocate for world peace and non-violent action against social injustice.  He wrote extensively on these issues including literally hundreds of articles and many books.  In 1968, he was a part of the Washington DC delegation to the Democratic National Convention of 1968.
Waskow’s interests eventually extended to the use of renewable energy and energy conservation – he began to understand the dangers to humanity of the ongoing reality of climate change.  His activism in regards to this issue took the form of his role as a Fellow of the Public Resource Center in Washington D.C.

Although his dedication to social activism remains intact, in 1969, he turned his attention to Jewish life in America. At the time, he felt it needed spiritual renewal.   His new journey is reflected in his Haggadah (a traditional Passover text) entitled, The Freedom Seder. 
The following excerpts from this masterful peace, show how Waskow incorporated the modern struggle for peace and social justice into the body of a traditional Jewish text in celebration of the Passover –
“For as one of the greatest of our prophets, whose own death by violence at a time near the Passover were member in tears tonight as the prophet Martin Luther King called us to know: "The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But the principle of nonviolent resistance seeks to reconcile the truths of two opposites-acquiescence and violence. The nonviolent resister rises to the noble height of opposing the unjust system while loving the perpetrators of the system. Nonviolence can reach men where the law cannot touch them. So, we will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will not hate you, but we cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws. And in winning our freedom we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process."
“And as rabbi Buber said, "The revolutionary lives on the knife's edge. The question that harasses him is not merely the moral or religious one of whether he may kill; his quandary has nothing at all to do with selling his soul to the devil' in order to bring the revolution to victory. His entanglement in the situation is here just the tension between end and means. I cannot conceive anything real corresponding to the saying that the end sanctifies the means; but 1 mean something which is real in the highest sense of the term when I say that the means profane, actually make meaningless, the end, that is, its realization! What is realized is the farther from the goal that was set, the more out of accord with it is the method by which it was realized. The ensuring of the revolution may only drain its heart's blood."
“Or as the rabbi Hannah Arendt wrote, "Man the political being is endowed with the power of speech. Speech is helpless when confronted with violence. Violence itself is incapable of speech. When violence rules absolutely, not only the laws but everything and everybody must fall silent."
“But even the prophet Gandhi, who made his life a call to nonviolent revolution, warned his people, "Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. Unless you feel that in nonviolence you have come into possession of a force infinitely superior to the one you have and in the use of which you are adept, you should have nothing to do with non-violence and resume the arms you possessed before."
“So, the struggles for freedom that remain will be more dark and difficult than any we have met so far. For we must struggle for a freedom that enfolds stern justice, stern bravery, and stern love. Blessed art thou,0 Lord our God! who hast confronted us with the necessity of choice and of creating our own book of thy Law. How many and how hard are the choices and the tasks the Almighty has set before us!
“For if we were to end a single genocide but not to stop the other wars that kill men and women as we sit here, it would not be sufficient;
“If we were to end those bloody wars but not disarm the nations of the weapons that could destroy all mankind, it would not be sufficient;
“If we were to disarm the nations but not to end the brutality with which the police attack black people in some countries, brown people in others; Moslems in some countries, Hindus in other; Baptists in some countries, atheists in others; Communists in some countries, conservatives in other it would not be sufficient;
“If we were to end outright police brutality but not prevent some people from wallowing in luxury while others starved, it would not be sufficient;
“If we were to make sure that no one starved but were not to free the daring poets from their jails, it would not be sufficient;
“If we were to free the poets from their jails but to train the minds of people so that they could not understand the poets, it would not be sufficient;
“If we educated all men and women to understand the free creative poets but forbade them to explore their own inner ecstasies, it would not be sufficient;
“If we allowed men and women to explore their inner ecstasies but would not allow them to love one another and share in the human fraternity, it would not be sufficient.
“How much then are we in duty bound to struggle, work, share, give, think, plan, feel, organize, sit-in, speak out, hope, and be on behalf of Mankind! For we must end the genocide [in Vietnam] , stop the bloody wars that are killing men and women as we sit here, disarm the nations of the deadly weapons that threaten to destroy us all, end the brutality with which the police beat minorities in many countries, make sure that no one starves, free the poets from their jails, educate us all to understand their poetry, allow us all to explore our inner ecstasies, and encourage and aid us to love one another and share in the human fraternity. All these!”
In 1982, he became a member of the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and in 1983 he co-founded the Shalom Center (  The Shalom Center’s mission is to revitalize modern Judaism.  In keeping with this mission, it works closely with the National Council of Churches, Muslim groups and has aligned itself with teachers and activists in order to find common approaches to world problems including racism, poverty, climate change, the Israeli-Palestine conflict etc.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow works tirelessly in the pursuit of peace and social justice.  His generosity of spirit is inspiration to all of those who desire a more peace and equitable human world.