Enemies in Our Midst?

For Japanese-Americans, Bushs war on terror is deja vu

Meanwhile, Army General John DeWitt was proclaiming, "The fact that there have been no instances of espionage to date indicates how devious these people really are and points to an almost certain plot in the future."

"I remember hearing that and, even as a young teenager, being astounded by the illogic of it," Hoshizaki said. "It was really a no-win situation for us."

The Japanese were rounded up community by community, "so we had some warning of when they were coming for us. I was 15, and the biggest disappointment for me was that my Scout troop had been saving up for a camping trip to Catalina, and now that was off."

Instead, he got to rough it, first in temporary quarters at the Pomona Fairgrounds—to whence their black neighbors would trek to visit them—and then at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.

"They had one of their coldest winters in history that year,: Hoshizaki said, "and here we were, Southern Californians with only the clothes we could carry on our backs."

Eventually they were given warmer clothing and did the work themselves to insulate their barracks. Hoshizaki said he made the best of it, becoming a Scout leader, finishing high school, and learning all he could about local plants and animals while there.

But it was never lost on him that they were unjustly held captive. In 1944, when the military began drafting men out of the camps—to serve in segregated all-Japanese-American units on the front lines—Hoshizaki was one of some 300 who refused to serve.

"I made that decision because of the discrimination we were subjected to," he says. "My parents, my brothers and sisters were still being held in the camp. I figured if I went in the service, I wasn't coming back, and to give my life while my family was being unjustly treated didn't make sense to me."

He and most of the other dissenters were railroaded through the courts. Hoshizaki served a two-year prison term, where, he said, "I was treated very well. We had a number of conscientious objectors in with us, Jehovah's Witnesses and Quakers. And the regular prisoners were sympathetic to our stand."

Some time after he was released, President Harry S. Truman recognized the injustice that had been done and pardoned the camps' draft resisters. With his record cleared, Hoshizaki was eligible and young enough still to be drafted during the Korean War, and he did a two-year Army stint then. "So I did double-duty," he said with a laugh.

After the war, the family grocery business couldn't be revived, so his dad started a nursery, which Hoshizaki ran for a time. He went to college and ultimately got a Ph.D. in botanical sciences from UCLA. Along with teaching, he landed a job at an unlikely spot for a botanist: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where he helped research plants that will likely feed astronauts on space stations.

Today, he says, "I look at what's happening, and it's déjà vu all over again. You're supposed to learn from history, but people forget history or don't even know it, and that's very frightening. George Bush should learn his history because, that poor guy, I was shocked by how little he knows.

"It's not the Muslims we should be mad at; it's the terrorists. But you hear that old slow propaganda gearing up again. Now that they're talking about going in after Saddam Hussein, anybody who's a Muslim or Arab will be seen as our enemy. When you've lived through that, you never want to see it again."

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