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Sully‘s blog pointed me to this one…Eric Muller, Ward Professor, University of North Carolina School of Law, opens a can of Whoop-ass on Michelle Malkin in his essay So Let Me Get This Straight: Michelle Malkin Claims to Have Rewritten the History of Japanese Internment in Just 16 Months?:


In her prefatory note to readers of her new book In Defense of Internment, Michelle Malkin says the following about the book’s goal:

This book defends both the evacuation and relocation of ethnic Japanese from the West Coast (the so-called “Japanese American internment”), as well as the internment of enemy aliens, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, during World War II. My work is by no means all-encompassing; my aim is to provoke a debate on a sacrosanct subject that has remained undebatable for far too long.

Read just a bit further, though, and you’ll see that the book is not just about “provoking debate.” It’s about “correcting the record” (page xv). By the time she finishes her retelling of the story of how the U.S. government decided to force 112,000 Japanese aliens and U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry from their homes and into camps in the interior, she maintains that “it should be obvious to any fair-minded person that the decisions made were not based primarily on racism and wartime hysteria” (page 80), but were based instead on information in top-secret decrypted cables from Japan to its embassies around the world (the so-called “MAGIC” decrypts) suggesting that certain people in the Americas (both ethnically Japanese people, including primarily Japanese aliens but also a handful of American citizens of Japanese ancestry, as well as people of other races and ethnicities) were secretly working as spies for the Japanese government.

I have a hard time believing that Malkin did anything of the sort. I suspect that she derived much of the information that supports her account from secondary sources, and relies primarily on primary research done (or perhaps not done) by others. (I do not doubt, by the way, that the documents to which Malkin cites actually exist; I’m not suggesting she’s making them up. What I suspect–indeed, what I know from my own experience–is that there must be thousands of additional documents in the archives that are relevant to a full understanding of the government’s wartime decisions, and that massively complicate the simple story she narrates). A person certainly can “provoke debate” (uninformed debate, at least) by going about things in this way. But a person can’t “correct the record” in this way, or report history in a way that anyone ought to believe. It’s just not possible, and it’s not credible.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding