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World Association of International Studies

Post Fred Korematsu and Reparations
Created by John Eipper on 02/02/17 6:12 AM

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Fred Korematsu and Reparations (David Duggan, USA, 02/02/17 6:12 am)

I suppose I could say that I feel the same way about Fred Korematsu (who incidentally received reparations for his internment) as I feel about Obamacare (which as WAIS 2013 attendees would know, is Paul Pitlick's fave): evil but necessary.

But 1) that would be snarky, and 2) my reparations are coming in the form of Medicare, which has picked up a non-trivial portion (~94%) of my post-65 medical bills (83% when you net out my plan-B "contribution," which is actually deducted from my social security payment). The question to this lawyer is whether there are less ham-handed methods to achieve the same result, and I suspect there are (e.g., putting micro-chips in all non-citizens wanting entry into the US, so that we can monitor their movements and internet usage), but they might result in unintended consequences.

And the question to this generally healthy patient is whether the ~$2,500 in medical bills which I racked up in the last three months for two office visits, two prescription renewals and a battery of lab tests (the majority of that amount) would have been better spent elsewhere. As always people have to choose between the lesser of evils.

JE comments: I don't follow the connection between civil rights dissent and Obamacare. The former is not a necessary evil, but an absolutely necessary part of any functioning democracy--a fourth "check" on government.

Snarky or not, I do like the idea of viewing Social Security and Medicare as reparations, the injustice being, since Adam's day, the expenditure of the sweat of our brows.  As for chipping our immigrants, you said that in jest--right, David?

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  • Reparations for Japanese Internment; Obamacare (Paul Pitlick, USA 02/09/17 6:30 AM)
    In his post of February 2nd, David Duggan didn't address a question I had asked, about Mr. Trump's Executive Order on immigration. David had previously suggested that he thought the order was legal. My question was, let's not argue about whether it's legal, but rather, is it good policy, or even a good idea? Somehow, I just don't see how denigrating every other country in the world, friend and foe alike, is going to end up any place desirable. And whether or not the British will become Mr. Trump's lap dog, I seriously doubt Mr. Putin will play the lap dog role.

    I'm puzzled why David referred to Fred Korematsu as "evil but necessary." I was born during WWII, and grew up in California. Many of the interred Japanese-Americans were Californians, and there were several internment camps in the state, but I never heard of this experience until well into adulthood--it was never covered in school nor mentioned in my parents' social groups. About 35 years ago, I was called to see a newborn who had a heart problem. Her mother is of Japanese descent, and her mother's parents had met in one of the camps. Her grandfather had lived with his parents on a small farm near Salinas; one day the government men came along and said they had to leave, taking only what they could carry. They were sent to Michigan. When the war was over and they were released, they had no place to return to--they had lost their home and farm. They stayed in Michigan for a while. With hard work they got their lives back together, and raised a lovely family. I don't see how seeking reparations can be considered "evil," when you've lost 3 years of your life, and virtually all of your possessions.

    See this article and photo essay in the New York Times:

    Dorothea Lange's photographs of Japanese Americans interned during World War II capture not only the oppression of a people but also their struggle to retain their dignity.


    David also commented about Obamacare in his note. As he observed, I also don't consider that "evil." We have serious problems in this country--our medical care is the most expensive in the world, our outcomes aren't that great, and many people are still underserved (although the latter is better under Obamacare). But his note alluded to one of my real pet peeves, which is the business model. He described "~$2,500 in medical bills." If you go to an auto mechanic, a bill of $2500 has one meaning. Concerning a medical bill, did he mean that the bill was $2500 to his health insurer, which paid, let's say $500, and he paid $30? Or was the bill to his insurer $2500, and they denied payment, so he was stuck with the whole thing? Or was the bill to the insurer $100,000, and they paid $20,000, leaving him to pay $2500? There are certainly more scenarios.

    JE comments:  It's surprising how little we know about the internment camps for Japanese-Americans.  Presumably there was at least one such place in Michigan.  All of the camps in the list below are located west of the Mississippi, but there must have been other types of forced relocations, such as assignments to agricultural work.


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    • Trump's America, Contrasted with the UK's Health Service (Istvan Simon, USA 02/09/17 2:53 PM)
      I want to congratulate Dr. Paul Pitlick for the most lucid post of 2017.

      Paul mentions three things: Trump's disgraceful Muslim Ban executive order, surely one of the most anti-American executive orders ever written. President Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II was surely anti-American as well, and wrong, though I'd say that it was issued under much graver circumstances than Orange Julius's ban.

      We as a nation have pretty much acknowledged that President Roosevelt's executive order was wrong, when we officially apologized for this injustice. Japanese Americans have every right to sue for compensation, as Paul said so well in his post. Note that German nationals were not interned, which makes Roosevelt's order even more objectionable and offensive.

      The third thing that Paul touches on in his post, again lucidly and spot on, is also something I have been writing about frequently--our calamitous health care system. Obamacare sure made things better, but as I mentioned so many times, Obamacare is still not affordable. I gave an example of medical billing practices in my hospital bill last year, when I passed out in my wife's doctor's office, and stayed 8 hours in Intensive care, and 24 hours in the hospital. The bill was $35,000 for my insurer and $700 for me. The insurer paid $5,000 and I paid $700. $5,700 I'd say is just about right for what the hospital did for me. In China would have been a lot less, but we have different standards of care.

      I was lucky enough to be in Cambridge, England in 1983, where my eldest son was born. I think I may have mentioned this already in WAIS, but even if I did, it is worth repeating. We did not have the right for free hospitalization for the birth, under the NHS rules of the time. But the bill was very reasonable: We paid $500 for the birth. The birth was done by a midwife, not a doctor, though doctors were present at the Hospital. When we arrived, they hooked up my wife to a machine that listened to my son's heartbeat. With every contraction, the heartbeat would slow down. The nurse said: "this baby is in distress" and called a sleepy doctor to look at the chart. The doctor looked, kind of uncertain, and said, I think it is all right. So they put us in a darkened birthing room. My son was born about 3 hours later, at 6 AM. While my wife was pushing him through the birth canal, the midwife constantly would listen to my son's heartbeat. When he "crowned," the midwife very expertly reached inside my wife, and felt that the umbilical chord was wrapped around my son's neck. She undid it once. He was born with the next push. It turns out that he was blue--the umbilical chord was wrapped around his little neck twice, and the midwife had only unwrapped it once while still inside his mother. He did not cry, and they gently put my son on my wife's tummy. He looked around, as if checking out this new world he came into. His little body turned pink, starting at the head, and progressing visibly through his body until it reached his toes. He weighed 5 lbs. 6 oz.

      We went home, happy new parents. As I said we had to pay for the Hospital, a very reasonable charge, but everything else was free. For the first two weeks, every day two sisters, as they are called in England, showed up at our home, to check if everything was OK with my son. My son was nursing, but not getting enough food from his mother. So he was fussy. After a few days of this, Sister Pearl gave him formula in a bottle, which he eagerly swallowed. My wife tried to continue to nurse him, but he soon was impatient with getting his food that way, so he rejected everything but the bottle. After this he gained 1 lb per week, and soon became pudgy. When we went back to Brazil via the United States four months later, my wife's sister named him little Wutzi.

      While in Cambridge, we took him regularly to a Surgery (what doctor's offices are called in England), where he was seen by an extremely competent Cambridge University-educated doctor for free, under the NHS. The Surgery was about a block away from where we lived on 7 Chesterton Road, in Cambridge.

      When he was I think about two months old, he got a severe upper respiratory infection. We called the surgery and asked the doctor if we can bring him in. The doctor said, no--I will come to you. Five minutes later he knocked on our door. I was astonished. When he had examined my son I asked him: Doctor why didn't you let us bring him in to the surgery--only a block away? He said, I had to come see him, because when they are this small, they die just like that, and he snapped his fingers. I got all this for free through the NHS. In America I could not get the same for any money.

      Donald J. Trump, aka Orange Julius, the "president" of our country, who wants to take Obamacare away from those who need it, needs to read this true story from my and my son's life.

      JE comments: Does the NHS still do house calls?  Regardless, this is an impressive level of service for $500.

      We will not make it a habit for WAIS to refer to Mr Trump by nicknames, but the "Orange Julius" was new to me.  The reference I believe is to the President's imperial aura (Julius Caesar), and his marked orange hue (and of course the orange milkshake concoction you used to find at the mall--don't think I ever had one).  Names and their etymologies have long been a field of WAISly inquiry.

      Here's about 200 more:  It's an interesting page, the result of a lot of research:


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      • Does the NHS Still Do House Calls? Well, No (John Heelan, UK 02/10/17 4:02 AM)
        JE asked on 10 February 10th (see Istvan Simon's post of that date): Does the NHS [the UK's National Health Service] still do house calls? No! It is difficult enough to get an appointment in the GP's surgery (see below).

        The NHS has been so seriously underfunded by various governments over the last two decades that it is no longer fit-for-purpose, despite the valiant efforts of physicians and nursing staff to keep it afloat--one of my granddaughters is a midwife and another is a biochemist in the NHS. (It is worth noting that the US medical industry donated £750,000 to Cameron's election funds and now are looking for opportunities to glean payback profits. Privatisation of UK medical services creeps closer every day.)


        Here is a letter I wrote to the BBC on the subject--they didn't print it!

        "Re: NHS week: Nine in 10 hospitals 'overcrowded' this winter"

        A view from the front line.

        The reality is that the Island's (IoW) elderly community is implicitly being transferred to a latter-day end-of-life "Osborne Pathway" project--or what the Chinese might call the "Death by 1000 cuts"!

        Let us review what medical choices I can "enjoy" on the brink of my 80s:

        1. Wait 2+ weeks for a GP appointment, by which time the symptoms will have usually disappeared and, if not, having to face the GP's question, "Why didn't you seek help earlier?"

        2. Call 111 to listen to a retrained and medically unqualified Call Centre clerk read through a list of things on his/her screen to make a decision on my health needs.

        3. Apply to my GP surgery for an appointment to be faced with gorgonesque receptionists (also lacking medical qualifications) deciding whether I can see my GP or not.

        4. In extremis, calling 999 (911 in US terms) only to be added to a series of queues.

        4a. the queue waiting for an ambulance/paramedic.

        4b. the queue waiting to be seen by an overworked and stressed A&E physician and nurses.

        4c. the queue in a corridor on a stretcher waiting to be admitted (or to die).

        5. Alternatively, being directed to a Southampton or Portsmouth hospital for tests and treatments, despite it involving up to five changes of transport ( bus/car, ferry across the Solent, bus/ taxi) and six hours travel there and back.

        The net effect is that many people of my age say that they no longer can be bothered to deal with a NHS in which we have lost trust and that is failing us at a critical stage in our lives (and deaths). Thus we are writing for ourselves an implicit "NHS Slow-Motion Suicide Note," given that they/we cannot afford private medical treatment. Maybe this is what the Treasury and Health Secretary "Hunt the (choose your own homophone)" intends?

        I fully understand the financial pressures the NHS is undergoing. Perhaps the NHS should reduce its number of bean-counters, paper-pushing administrators and PR people whose sole role appears to be manipulating data in the search for excuses (i.e. "it's your own fault, you have been using the NHS for what it was intended!"). Maybe the NHS bosses would be better spending the money on recruiting and retaining medical staff.

        After some 70 years contributing to the NHS via NI and taxation, I am disgusted that my own end-of-life Pathway will be strewn with so many obstacles that will inevitably cause unnecessary distress to me and my family.

        JE comments:  John Heelan is referring to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.  (I cannot think of any homophone that fits--runt?  Is he small of stature?  Perhaps he's a baseball fan and likes to bunt?  Just kidding here.)

        Glad we could give your letter a proper airing, John.  Do you think the UK's Powers that Be are deliberately sabotaging the NHS in order to justify privatization?

        A postscript on language:  in nearly 38,000 WAIS posts, this is the first appearance of "gorgonesque."  How many citizens of WAISworld use this word in their active vocabulary?

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      • Internment of Italian and German-Americans during WWII (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/11/17 7:03 AM)
        Not only were Japanese civilian residents in the US interned during WWII, but so were Germans and Italians, even if in much lower numbers. The difference is that the Japanese received an indemnity, but the Germans and the Italians did not.

        For the Italians, however, the state of California in 2010 presented only excuses.

        Enemy Aliens numbered more than 1,100,000, of whom there were around 100,000 Japanese, most of whom were interned. Relatively few of the 350,000 Germans were interned. Of the 650,000 Italians, at least 1521 were interned and 231 jailed.

        The action followed the Executive Order 9066.

        On Columbus Day 1942, however, the restrictions on the Italians were practically dropped. The Mafia in New York had cooperated in the elimination of a spy ring in the port. Then it became a good US ally in the conquest of Sicily, which enabled it to return to Italy.

        The restrictions included not living or fishing near ports or strategic points, no possession of shortwave radios, no performances of some works, some fishing boats were even confiscated, etc.

        In spite of the relatively small number of interned Italians, the experience had a tremendous impact. In 1971 I was talking with some old Americans of Italian origin and the discussion turned to WWII. They did not want to go on because they were afraid of being labeled Fascists and therefore losing their citizenship and facing deportation.

        Do not misunderstand me; I believe that during wartime, a state may take some defensive actions regarding "enemy aliens" within its borders. Italian civilians were interned in practically all other Western States and their possessions confiscated, in the UK, France, even in Canada, etc. For many, for example the Italians in Egypt, internment was almost a death sentence, due to the infernal conditions of the camps.

        But the US committed grave violations of international law, a very clear casus belli, when between 28 March and 1 April 1941 it confiscated (even without a state of war between the US and Italy) at least 19 Italian merchant vessels in the US or in Central and South American ports under the control of the US Navy.

        The crew of almost all the ships prior to abandoning the ship tried to sabotage or set them on fire. Therefore the US put them on trial and then in jail for a criminal act (sic). The crews were then, generally, transferred to POW camps when the captured prisoners started arriving in the States.

        JE comments: What do we know about the internment of the Italo-Canadians?  The only reference I've seen to this episode was on the short-lived Canadian TV series, Bomb Girls.

        Has the definitive book been written on the participation of the Italian-American mafia in the conquest of Sicily and the rest of the Peninsula?

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        • Mafia Participation in Liberation of Sicily; Charles Poletti (Roy Domenico, USA 02/11/17 1:50 PM)

          Regarding JE's question on the Mafia and the conquest (or liberation?) of Sicily, I caught a brief look into that subject when I was writing my dissertation in the 1980s. It concerned the punishment or lack of punishment against Fascists at the end of the war.

          One of my sources was the Charles Poletti archive at Columbia University. Poletti had been New York's lieutenant governor and then briefly governor in 1942 when FDR called his boss, Herbert Lehman, to Washington for war work. Poletti served for about a month until Thomas Dewey replaced him. Poletti then went into the Army's Civil Affairs branch which took him to Sicily in the summer 1943 landings. He served as the governor of Palermo and then proceeded up the boot with the Allies as civil affairs governor in a number of places.

          At one point, after discerning in the archives that there may be reason to investigate this, I contacted Poletti at his retirement home on San Marco island in Florida. I asked him--why not?--if he could enlighten me on any Mafia input during the invasion. He brushed me off with a two liner, "I don't remember anything. Consult my archive."

          OK, why should he cooperate with the grad student from Rutgers? I felt a little better a few years later when I saw an interview with Poletti for a BBC documentary. To more or less the same question Poletti more or less answered, "I don't remember anything. Consult my archive."

          JE comments:  Poletti died in 2002, at the age of 99.  See this 2014 WAIS exchange between Eugenio Battaglia and Roy Domenico.  Eugenio claimed that Poletti appointed several known mafiosi as mayors of Sicilian towns:


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        • Internment of Italian-Canadians in WWII (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/12/17 9:13 AM)
          I am sending you the testimony of historian Rudolph Daldin, who witnessed the internment of the Italian Canadians. It is a very interesting and moving story; it looks like that the Canadians were not so nice.

          Mr. Daldin is also a biographer of Mussolini and publishes many essays.

          Near my home town, Mrs. Giuseppina Daldin, probably a relative of Rudolph, was captured by partisans and killed during the Italian Civil War.


          JE comments: These events took place in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from WAIS HQ. According to Mr Daldin, owning a gun, a portrait of Mussolini, or an Italian flag was enough to get you shipped off to internment. I would imagine many Italian homes at least had flags. The first wave of detentions began in June 1940, just as Canada declared war.

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    • Manzanar Internment Camp, 19 February 1942 (Paul Pitlick, USA 02/20/17 9:38 AM)
      We recently discussed the Japanese internment in WWII. Yesterday was an anniversary of sorts:

      "Manzanar was created via Executive Order 9066, which will turn 75 years old on February 19. The order did not mention the Japanese, but its intention was very clear."

      At Former Japanese Internment Camp Manzanar, a History Lesson for Trump's Extreme Vetting


      JE comments:  Paul Pitlick sent this item on the day of the anniversary, but I'm a day late with the posting.  Sorry about that, Paul.  The article also connects to an 1988 speech by President Reagan, apologizing for the internment of Japanese-Americans.

      See the photo of the entrance:  "Manzanar War Relocation Center."  A "manzanar" is an apple orchard.  What a cheerful name for such an unhappy place.

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