At first glance, Edward Rothstein's New York Times museum review of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center in Powell, Wyoming seems like a thoughtful, sober reflection on one of the former sites of the U.S. government's relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II, now a museum.
But the latter part of the article spends a little too much effort expressing possible justifications -- or at least a plausible rationale -- for the internment, throwing out Malkin-like evidence of possible wartime espionage. It's entirely inappropriate for what's supposed to be a museum review.
So I'm passing this along from Jennifer Hayashida, Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College, who sent out the following letter asking friends, colleagues and concerned citizens to call out the New York Times on this "misrepresentation of civil rights history." Check it out:
Please take a look at Edward Rothstein's review of the new Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center in this Sunday's NYT:Read over the article, and if you feel the same way, write your own letter to the New York Times at firstname.lastname@example.org (150 words or less). And to learn more about the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center, go here.
The strange title is clarified towards the last third of the article, where Rothstein takes great pains to elaborate on possible justifications for the internment of Japanese Americans, clearly drawing upon fringe pundits such as Michelle Malkin (whose work is linked in the online version of the article). Not only is such editorializing uncalled for in what is supposed to be a relatively unbiased review in a paper of record, but it is obviously at odds with all serious scholarship on the subject of WWII internment of Japanese Americans. Given the general invisibility of mainstream news coverage of Asian American history and/or experience, this kind of misrepresentation of civil rights history, to me, represents an egregious disregard for the place of Asian Americans in U.S. society, past and present.
Asian American Studies scholars across the country have started to write to the Times to voice their dissatisfaction with Rothstein's piece, and I'm writing to ask you to do the same. Letters (in body of email, no attachments) of no more than 150 words should be directed to email@example.com. If enough people write, our hope is that the NYT has to issue an apology and/or retraction, so please take just a few minutes to write. Also, please feel free to circulate to anyone you think might be compelled to write to the Times.
Jennifer Hayashida, Director
Asian American Studies Program
Hunter College, The City University of New York