Tuesday, December 7, 2010

But we must always remember America's sins

Always!  This little story off the AP is otherwise pretty interesting.  It's about the effort to preserve the interment camps in which Japanese, German, and Italian Americans were rounded up and held in the days following America's entry into WWII.  Kudos for the story for mentioning the oft overlooked fact that we did round up Germans and Italians as well. So often we focus only on the Japanese, for one thing because of the numbers involved.  But also, I have a hunch, because it plays better into the America=Racist theme that has dominated our self reflection for the last 60 years or so. 

Of course there is much to go into with this story.  What did America do?  Where was it right, and where was it wrong?  Japan loves to point out this little blurb on our human rights record, but how did those foreign nationals in Japan fair at the outbreak of WWII?  Not nearly as well as those rounded up in America.  Not that it justifies our actions, but we should always want to qualify, to keep things in perspective, to see what really happened, what could have happened and didn't, and how and why things turned the way the did.

But for me, I had to ask: why today?  Why run this story today?  It isn't as if the project just started today.  It's an ongoing project.  Why?  Because in America we absolutely will not allow ourselves even one moment of congratulations without at least three counter stories of America's failures.  Except for the 60s, we emphasize only the bad.  And on those rare occasions where either we were the victims, or we seem to have done something good, expect a triple dose of negative stories over the next day or so to even things out.

A reader on one of my posts commented that we, as a nation, lack self-confidence.  An individual obsessed with guilt and only able to see the negative in his life will never have confidence.  Neither will a nation.

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