Euphemisms

Importance of self-representation in legislation The lawsuit set the standard for restoring people’s rights Japanese American, not Japanese Euphemisms People have to believe in what they are doing in order to gain trust Outhouses and showers at camp Interned at age fifteen, I saw camp as an adventure Going to camp with the Terminal Island people Education in camp Trying to get back into camp

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Well, I’m a very strong opponent of euphemisms, and sort of a disciple of Ray Okamura, who initiated the war against euphemisms. But the problem with euphemisms is that they are more than just simply grammatically incorrect, they’ve had a very profound effect on the course of our history. So it was a big mistake to let the government get away with it. So I think the euphemisms were important to get away from things like “relocation center” and “evacuation.” Every time I read the newspapers today, and I hear people being evacuated because of this or that, I just sit there and shake my head. I say that’s the proper use of it. It doesn’t apply to us. We were not evacuated. We were excluded and detained.

I insisted on [the use of the terms] exclusion and detention because they are both violations of the Constitution. A lot of people (laughs) don’t realize it, but people have to be free to move from place to place. One of the ways that becomes real evident is in South Africa—the South African Constitution. Because people were not free to travel—the right to travel was stated explicitly in their new constitution. But it is implied implicitly in the United States’ Constitution. That’s just as much a violation as imprisonment. So by that standard, every Japanese American in America should be eligible for redress. I think that’s the way it should have been done legislatively. We didn’t get involved in legislation.

Date: June 12, 1998
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Darcie Iki, Mitchell Maki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Constitution detention euphemisms evacuation exclusion Ray Okamura relocation center

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