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Home Columns JGL Eye “Contradictions” in America Cited by Senator Inouye in a Fourth of July Message
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Columns - JGL Eye
Monday, 05 July 2010 12:05

 

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(Journal Group Link International)

 

 

“Contradictions” in America Cited by Senator Inouye in a Fourth of July Message

 

C HICAGO (JGLi) – At the 234th anniversary of the Independence of the United States, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, the fourth most-powerful American official in his capacity as President Pro-Tempore of the U.S. Senate, pointed out in his 4th of July message that when the Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence in 1776 against “the most powerful nation on earth – Great Britain,” “it is ironic that the author and many of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were slave owners.”

 

The most-senior Democratic senator from Hawaii said, “This irony was but the first of many contradictions that arose as well-meaning men and women worked to shape our nation.

 
“Since that time, the country I love has weathered many exciting and difficult times. But history shows magnificently that when our nation has erred, we have endeavored to acknowledge the mistake.  Although it has been painful, we have apologized and worked to make things right.”

 

The 85-year-old legislator said in March 1942, the United States enacted a law allowing Filipinos, who fought side-by-side with the United States during World War II, to become American citizens after the war.

 

But in 1946, the provision was repealed, and “the promise we made to these men was broken. Once again, I am proud to say that the country I love admitted its error and restored its promise of citizenship. We also have appropriated monies, in largely symbolic gesture, to compensate Filipino veterans of World War II for their service.”

 

But Senator Inouye came up short in advocating that the American government and Congress issue an apology to the mistakes committed to the Filipinos compared to the discrimination committed by the U.S. government against the Japanese Americans who were “mistreated” at the outbreak of WW II and the conspiracy to overthrow the indigenous and lawful government of Hawaii in 1893.

 

APOLOGIES TO JAPANESE AMERICANS AND NATIVE HAWAIIANS

 

In the case of the Japanese Americans interred during World War II on suspicion that they would be aiding Japan, each internee was paid a token lump sum of $20,000 plus a letter of apology signed by the first President Bush.

 

In the case of the Filipinos, those American citizens were given a token one-time $15,000 pay each while the non-American surviving Filipino soldiers were given $9,000 each. There was no letter of apology from President Barack Obama, who signed the Filipino Equity Fund lumped in the Stimulus Bill last year.

 

In the case of the Native Hawaiians, Sen. Inouye said, “We are now in that process. In 1993, the Congress enacted P.L. 103-150, otherwise known as the Apology Resolution wherein the United States acknowledged that the overthrow was unlawful, and formally apologized to the Native Hawaiian people. “The Apology Resolution started the process of reconciliation.

 

“Today, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, known as the Akaka bill, provides the critical next step – recognition. There has been much discussion and debate over these many years. Now is the time to act, even if it may require compromise to, at long last, adopt a measure, which begins the process of self-determination.”

 

Mr. Inouye recalled that there was even a time that he was also “a victim of our nation’s imperfect attempts at Democracy.

 

“Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, all Japanese living in the United States were declared ‘enemy aliens.’ And as such, we were banned from putting on the uniform of the U.S. armed forces. Eventually, President Roosevelt heard our plea, and the order was rescinded.

 

PAINFUL YEARS

 

“Y oung men, like myself, rushed to enlist, each of us eager to prove our love of country, by distinguishing ourselves on the battlefield.  Under the heavy weight of prejudice, I joined my friends and fought and bled for my country. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most-decorated Army unit of its size and length of service in the history of the American military.

 

“When we trained at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, the Hawaii boys met many of our Mainland Japanese counterparts whose parents were imprisoned in internment camps while they enlisted to serve our nation. I recall asking myself if I would have been able to fight for my country if my parents were locked away behind barbed wire fences.  It took many painful years, but those interred eventually received the apologies of our nation and a token reparation payment for the taking of their property and businesses.”

 

A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Senator Inouye is the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in American history. Chairman of the influential U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Mr. Inouye is now a senator for the last 47 years, making him the most-senior member of the Senate after the death of fellow Democrat Robert Byrd last week.

 

During World War II campaign in Europe, Inouye received the Bronze Star, the Purple Hear, and the Distinguished Service Cross, which was later upgraded, by President Clinton in 2000, to the Medal of Honor. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 


 

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