Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Incident in Florin, 1942

Manzanar Relocation Center
Community Analysis Section
January 26, 1944

(From an Evacuee)
(The JACL at Florin before Evacuation)

A great deal of the trouble in this camp which led to the incident was the feeling that many of the residents had against the J.A.C.L leaders whom they accused of selling them out and of being informers. There were things that happened before evacuation that led to this feeling. I know what happened in the Florin region where we lived. I was not a member of the J.A.C.L. I’m just not much of a joiner. But I knew the K family. This family was prominent in the district and the boys were leaders in the J.A.C.L.

At the time when the first talk of evacuation arose, these fellows came around to take a collection for funds for the J.A.C.L. so they could put up a fight against evacuation. I was not home when they came, but my folks gave them $3.00. They gave the impression they could do something about preventing evacuation. I saw the receipt when I got home. They went around to all the Japanese families in the district.

When an organization comes for a donation, the family head usually gives according to the number of people in the family. There were seven in our family, so it averaged about 50 cents each. When you give like this, you always get a receipt. Then, when the organization has some event, you and your family are admitted free. It’s just like buying tickets. But there was something funny about this receipt. On the back it said something to the effect that the contributor would have no say or responsibility about how the money was spent. Over $1500.00 was collected from the Florin people alone. No one knows what the money was used for. To tell the truth, some thought it was going to be used to bribe some official. A good many say that the money was just pocketed and no attempt was made to save the people from evacuation.

Then it was found out that T, one of the prominent J.A.C.L. leaders came up to Owens Valley with officials and helped them pick out the site for Manzanar. After that most of the people had no use for him. They called him and his friends “dog” and “informer” (inu).

The idea of calling spies or informers “dogs” goes back to Japanese history. At one time /the Emperor was little more than a figurehead. This country was ruled by a shogunate with the real power in the hands of the head of a powerful family. Two important families were rivals for the power. One, the Tokugawa, gained control. But they knew that if the other group, the Hideyoshi won out, they would just about exterminate the Tokugawa. Toward the end of their shogunate the Tokugawa were losing out and getting kind of shaky. They were afraid of their rivals and wanted to hunt the leaders down as conspirators. Their rivals had been driven from the public life and were scattered in various occupations, waiting for their time. The Tokugawa hired spies, who went around doing ordinary work but who also kept an eye out for Hideyoshi, or any of their friends. No one knew whom to trust. They called these informers ‘dogs” because dogs go around sniffing, and these spies were always sniffing around for information.

No comments:

Post a Comment