Pearl Harbor-We Remember the Innocent Japanese-Americans Who Were Rounded Up By Our Government

Today December 7th is the 69th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attacks. As was said back in 1941 by then President Franklin D Roosevelt it was ‘a day that will live in infamy‘. What also will live in infamy is the often overlooked plight that fell upon American citizens of Japanese decent. President Roosevelt fearing espionage issued executive order Executive Order 9066, in February of 1942 which led to the FBI and other government agencies rounding-up Japanese Americans, seizing their property  and locked them up what was called War Relocation Camps.  These internment camps which were essentially prisons became home to over 120 thousand Japanese American citizens many who had served our country, were productive citizens and pillars in the community. Sadly in our collective hysteria and us being in the midst of extra-ordinary times and feeling a need to take extra-ordinary measures.  we saw fit to lock up ( the word used back in 1941 was ‘evacuate) American citizens who fit a certain ethnic profile wholesale. It was a shameful moment for our country.

Could such a thing happen today in 2010? There were laws passed to supposedly prevent such things from re-occuring, but it sure seemed like that after the dreadful 9-11 attacks. If you recall there were all sorts of violent attacks against fellow citizens perceived as being Muslim. Some said the threats of another terrorist attack was so grave that ‘extra-ordinary measures needed to be taken including profiling, spying, indefinite detaining  and even confinement.

Periodically in the years that followed where hatred toward fellow American citizens who practice Islam have taken some nasty turns including a few months ago around the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. We had TV pundits and elected officials including a sitting congressman Louie Gohmert trying to scare the public about the imminent threats of Terror Babies’ being unleashed. These terror babies were the American born children of Muslims who were taken out the country shortly after birth, trained to be terrorists and sent back to the US  when they turned 18 to destroy our way of life. Hence it was strongly urged that we pass laws, change our constitution and take ‘extra-ordinary‘ steps do whatever it takes to protect ourselves.

Could internment camps happen today in 2010? Well many argue you see that’s what’s been happening now with undocumented people here in the states. There are numerous detention centers all over the country, that have held entire families including small children, the most notable was the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Texas which was closed down sometime last year.

Now many would argue in 2010 with the same black and white vehemence expressed back in 1941, that our country is at risk and folks who don’t belong here or haven’t gotten their paper work straight need to be locked up-end of story.

Hopefully we remember the shame and harm done to fellow Americans after Pearl Harbor  and never travel down that path again no matter how big the crises.

Below is a song from Mike Shinoda of Linkin park and his other group Fort Minor. The song Kenji addresses this important issue

Mike Shinoda and his group Fort Minor did a song paying tribute to those Japanese -Americans interned at War Re-Location Camps Fort Minor – Kenji

My father came from Japan in 1905
He was 15 when he immigrated from Japan
He worked until he was able to buy to actually build a store

Let me tell you the story in the form of a dream,
I don’t know why I have to tell it but I know what it means,
Close your eyes, just picture the scene,
As I paint it for you, it was World War II,
When this man named Kenji woke up,
Ken was not a soldier,
He was just a man with a family who owned a store in LA,
That day, he crawled out of bed like he always did,
Bacon and eggs with wife and kids,
He lived on the second floor of a little store he ran,
He moved to LA from Japan,
They called him ‘Immigrant,’
In Japanese, he’d say he was called “Issei,”
That meant ‘First Generation In The United States,’
When everybody was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the Japs,
But most of all afraid of a homeland attack,
And that morning when Ken went out on the doormat,
His world went black ’cause,
Right there; front page news,
Three weeks before 1942,
“Pearl Harbour’s Been Bombed And The Japs Are Comin’,”
Pictures of soldiers dyin’ and runnin’,
Ken knew what it would lead to,
Just like he guessed, the President said,
“The evil Japanese in our home country will be locked away,”
They gave Ken, a couple of days,
To get his whole life packed in two bags,
Just two bags, couldn’t even pack his clothes,
Some folks didn’t even have a suitcase, to pack anything in,
So two trash bags is all they gave them,
When the kids asked mom “Where are we goin’?”
Nobody even knew what to say to them,
Ken didn’t wanna lie, he said “The US is lookin’ for spies,
So we have to live in a place called Manzanar,
Where a lot of Japanese people are,”
Stop it don’t look at the gunmen,
You don’t wanna get the soldiers wonderin’,
If you gonna run or not,
‘Cause if you run then you might get shot,
Other than that try not to think about it,
Try not to worry ’bout it; bein’ so crowded,
Someday we’ll get out, someday, someday.

As soon as war broke out
The F.B.I. came and they just come to the house and
“You have to come”
“All the Japanese have to go”
They took Mr. Ni
People didn’t understand
Why did they have to take him?
Because he’s an innocent laborer

So now they’re in a town with soldiers surroundin’ them,
Every day, every night look down at them,
From watch towers up on the wall,
Ken couldn’t really hate them at all;
They were just doin’ their job and,
He wasn’t gonna make any problems,
He had a little garden with vegetables and fruits that,
He gave to the troops in a basket his wife made,
But in the back of his mind, he wanted his families life saved,
Prisoners of war in their own damn country,
What for?
Time passed in the prison town,
He wanted them to live it down when they were free,
The only way out was joinin’ the army,
And supposedly, some men went out for the army, signed on,
And ended up flyin to Japan with a bomb,
That 15 kiloton blast, put an end to the war pretty fast,
Two cities were blown to bits; the end of the war came quick,
Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wife,
But, when they got back to their home,
What they saw made them feel so alone,
These people had trashed every room,
Smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors,
Written on the walls and the floor,
“Japs not welcome anymore.”
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside,
He, looked at his wife without words to say,
She looked back at him wiping tears away,
And, said “Someday we’ll be ok, someday,”
Now the names have been changed, but the story’s true,
My family was locked up back in ’42,
My family was there it was dark and damp,
And they called it an internment camp

When we first got back from camp
It was pretty pretty bad

I I remember my husband

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Breakdown FM: Mike Shinoda & Fort Minor Step Into the Hip Hop Arena

Mike Shinoda and his group Fort Minor did a song paying tribute to those Japanese -Americans interned at War Re-Location CampsWe caught up with Mike Shinoda who many of you know as the lead rapper for the group Linkin Park. He has embarked on a new project which allows him to completely focus on Hip Hop called Fort Minor and their new album called ‘Rising Tides‘.

Shinoda deliberately downplays his name in connection to this project even though this is his idea and concept. He says this is being done so that fans will focus on and judge the project strictly on the merits of its music. In fact, he went so far as to scratch out his face on much of the artwork. He also noted that he wanted not dilute what they he does as a member of Linkin Park. Ideally people needed to see Fort Minor as a separate project even though Mike is the lead rapper and he works with the group’s deejay Mr. Hahn.

Shinoda starts off the interview by reminding us of his long connection to Hip Hop. He notes that he was doing Hip Hop long before he became a member of Linkin Park. In fact he was kicking up dust with the members of the underground rap group Styles of Beyond who he recently signed to his label and are prominently featured in the Fort Minor project.

Shinoda also talks about growing up and being taught how to play piano. He says he later went on to transfer that skill set to sampling and producing. He notes that over the years he and fellow band member Mr. Hahn have developed a technique for producing Hip Hop songs which includes the pair making their own samples which they press onto vinyl and now CD and replay back. He notes this approach gives them the sound and style they want while at the same time saves them lots of money on sample clearances.

Shinoda talks about the reason he decided to do this Hip Hop album minus Linkin Park. For many, this seemed a bit strange considering that the group did a Hip Hop oriented remix album for their landmark album ‘Animation’.

Shinoda explained that the group is not in anyway broken up; however he felt that there were a number of ideas that he had related to Hip Hop that simply would not be appropriate for Linkin Park. He said he would never want to do songs that would not include input from all the members and some of the songs on the ‘Rising Tide’ album are just too personal. It would be unfair to ask everyone to comment or pitch in.

Shinoda cites the song ‘Kenji‘ which brings to light his Japanese heritage and his family’s history. Many of us were not aware that Shinoda’s grandparents were forced to spend several years in California internment camps during World War II. They way he breaks things down in this track is absolutely incredible and it is easily one of the most political oriented songs I have heard in a long time.

Shinoda talks about other songs on the album including ‘Cigarettes‘ which he describes as a long metaphor for the way Hip Hop music and culture is mass marketed. He also notes that ‘Cigarettes’ is the favorite song of Jay-Z who is the executive producer.

In our interview Shinoda talks about his close relationship with Jay-Z. They became super tight during the ‘Collision Course‘ mash up album in which they mixed rock and rap. He says that he gave Jay-Z the option to come on the ‘Rising Tides’ album, but the role he really needed him to play was to give him a ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’ on song selections.

Shinoda wrote and produced all of the songs and used live instruments on many of them. He’s a perfectionist and hence needed the fresh ears and honest opinion of someone like a Jay-Z who could tell him what was ready to go and what needed more work.

During our interview we went into depth about the importance of having socially relevant messages in the music. This is what you will hear on Fort Minor’s album. He says that he has noticed that people really want something different. They are seeking music with meaning that does not sound like the run of the mill cookie cut projects that are currently flooding the market. He calls what Fort Minor does ‘Organic Hip Hop’, because of the subject matter and live instrumentation. He also includes groups like The Roots and Kanye West as examples of rap groups that have moved in that direction.

Shinoda concludes this interview by talking about the diversity of fans that the group has and basically how far Hip Hop has reached. He also talks about his approach toward emceeing and what it was like being in the studio with Jay-Z who he confirms does go into the booth with a pen or pad.

You can listen or download this interview by going here: