Here’s the link to Lisa Chung’s July 7 column in the San Jose Mercury-News, “War resister’s predecessors stand with him” in which she quotes from Curtis Choy’s film of the phone call from Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya to Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq:
Besides the usual list of anti-war celebrities and politicians in Watada’s corner, what impresses me most are the members of the Heart Mountain draft resisters. They know all about taking an unpopular stand on principle. These are people like Mits Koshiyama in San Jose, Frank Emi and Yoshi Kuromiya in Los Angeles, and others. They know the personal cost can still resonate and sting, even after 60 years …
Writer Frank Chin sent me a DVD recording of a phone meeting between Watada and Emi, Kuromiya and Paul Tsuneishi, a World War II veteran. Koshiyama, 83, was going to take part until health issues intervened. The elders offered their analyses and support. Kuromiya told the young officer that he might very well go to prison, but it could be the beginning of something new. He has the character for leadership and a role to play.
In 1944 U.S. District Court Judge T. Blake Kennedy in Wyoming ruled 63 young Heart Mountain boys could not raise the unconstitutionality of mass incarceration as a defense in their trial for draft resistance. The jury could only rule on whether or not they failed to report for induction, and convicted the lot.
In 2007, although the cases are different, a military judge at Fort Lewis south of Seattle ruled this week that Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada can not raise the legality of the war in Iraq as a defense for his refusal to deploy there. The Seattle Times article has links to court documents in Watada’s court-martial trial. See also the Seattle P-I.
By the way, did you see the howler on the season premiere of “24” on Jan. 14? Under siege from terrorist attacks, in a terse exchange on the legal precedents for locking up American Muslims in concentration camps, “President Wayne Palmer” bemoaned how “Roosevelt imprisoned over 200,000 Japanese Americans in what most historians consider to be a shameful mistake.” Where were the fact-checkers? S.I. Hayakawa would have cried “semantic inflation.” What was troubling, though, was the next line of dialogue: “Well I would ask those historians how many of those Japanese Americans were thus prevented from perpetrating acts of sabotage in this country?” The answer, of course, is exactly none.