Internment Archives

Critique of the Smithsonian Institution's Exhibit:
"A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution"


When this critique was first presented to the Smithsonian Institution in June 2001 the issues at hand were historical accuracy and the use of the Smithsonian to propagate a particular interpretation of an important historical event using contrived and exaggerated facts and figures.

Since September 11, 2001 the importance of the critique has been enlarged because of the ongoing debate over internal security and civil rights. Government security policy, for example, threat profiling at airports, is being prevented by Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, largely on the basis of not wanting to repeat the “mistakes” of Japanese evacuation as he misrepresents them. Mineta was a Smithsonian regent at the time the flawed exhibit was produced.

As recently as August 12, 2002, John Tateishi, National Director of the Japanese American Citizens League is quoted in an AP story as saying, “I have been in contact with members of the Bush administration, and I know there have been discussions in the highest offices of rounding up and detaining those who look like terrorists. I remind them about the Japanese population on the West Coast being imprisoned because the government felt it could not determine whether we were enemies or not.”

Preposterous on its face, the statement demonstrates how the contrived version of this historical event is routinely used to enhance the victimhood of an ethnic minority and thus its political influence. All to the detriment of the nation.

After reading the statement of John J. McCloy, the Assistant Secretary of War in the Roosevelt administration, in this critique, and several of the MAGIC messages he refers to, the reader may wonder why some Japanese Americans blame America, first and only, for the evacuation. Why isn't Imperial Japan blamed for putting its citizens under suspicion by involving them in espionage in the U.S., or why aren't those Japanese residents and Japanese Americans who are implicated in the messages blamed for their disloyalty?

In addition to the critique we invite you to review the information on our website.

Lee Allen
Athena Press, Inc.
August 14, 2002