Conscience and the Constitution

Heart Mountain Sentinel
July 1, 1944


Years of Uselessness

Monday of this week saw the needless and useless consignment of 63 young men from Heart Mountain to the penitentiary for three years for violation of the Selective Service act. It was needless and useless because the 63 men, their parents and members of the so-called Fair Play Committee would not have it any other way.

The group acted against the best advice of the American Civil Liberties Union, a representative of which wrote to the leaders of the Fair Play Committee that the draft evaders had a strong moral case but no legal case at all. Even their defense attorney advised them not to ignore their calls for pre-induction examinations. Yet, taking the word and advice of the self-appointed prophets of the Fair Play Committee the group went through with their plans and now face three long, never-to-be-erased years in the penitentiary.

A number of the youths in the group of, 63 wanted to change their minds and enter the armed service because the illogical reasoning and hysteria of the committee had become dulled by months in county jails where they awaited trial. This was impossible because they would certainly lose face with their codefendants. Their action cannot be blamed entirely on the Fair Play Committee but on certain issei, kibei and their parents, who, having little loyalty to this nation and lacking fortitude to express their loyalty to Japan, preferred to have their sons serve degrading penitentiary sentences rather than follow the course of loyal nisei.

The logic of the court toward the contention that their civil rights bad been abridged by evacuation was' summed up by Judge Kennedy in his statement that "when they were placed in 1-A and ordered to report for pre-induction physical examinations, their pure American citizenship was established beyond question."

Judge Kennedy further stated that "if they are truly loyal American citizens, they should, at least when they have become recognized as such, embrace the opportunity to discharge the duties of citizens by offering themselves in, the cause of our national defense."

In our opinion those who were before the court are only a segment of the entire group who give only lip-service loyalty to the United States. The others, although biding behind various subterfuges, are equally guilty'. Certainly members of the Fair 'Play Committee deserve penitentiary sentences even more than many of the unwitting members of the group who were sentenced by the court.

The prison sentences of the group, plus the months they have spent in county jails awaiting trial, total almost 200 years.

At no time in, the nation's history could such manpower be utilized to better advantage. But, now for the next three years the 63 young men -mill be of little use to anyone, particularly to themselves. And, it might be well to Point out that even after they have served their sentences they will face an outside world decidedly unfriendly to slackers.

Had any of the 63 held the interest of all Japanese Americans at heart they would have offered themselves, as have more than 400 other Heart Mountain youths now in the army, and relied upon proper authorities to determine their positions. Both the Korematsu and Endo cases now before the Supreme Court will determine the legality of evacuation but in the meantime every person of Japanese ancestry carries a personal burden of which he must at all times be conscious.


Updated: August 16, 2000

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