Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

11 February 2007

More on Lt. Watada: The Mistrial, and A Bit of History

Judge Head declared a mistrial last week before Lt. Watada could present his own eloquent (albeit greatly proscribed) defense. This was a surprise -- after the Judge had ruled out discussion of the legality or morality of the war. I don't understand if the Pentagon was afraid of letting him testify... or if they were more afraid of the result of not allowing discussion of the war; sending a true leader to prison for a decision that most Americans agree with (i.e., the war is wrong).

Perhaps by simply delaying this trial they are blocking the impact of his eloquent defense. I wonder if the White House feared that he might win his Court Martial. Reporters from around the world were covering this story, even though it did not really get full coverage at home.

Whatever the appointed leaders at the Pentagon decide, I bet they will try to delay this process for many more months. If they concede, I predict it will be announced on a Friday at 4:45 pm, as the Bush Administration usually does with any story they want to bury. Sigh. We'll just have to keep our eyes on this case.

There is an interesting analysis of the situation at Courage to Resist. You can also see his lawyer and mother speak at the press conference following the mistrial announcement (on You Tube).

By the way, some of us in Hawaii have only heard the impressive story of the heroic acts of the Japanese American soldiers in the 100th Division and the 442nd RCT (as well as the MIS in the Pacific). Their sacrifices were important steps towards reversing prejudice against Japanese Americans during World War II. However, I was saddened that some Nisei veteran leaders tried to claim that Lt. Ehren Watada's courageous resistance against Bush's war in Iraq somehow blemishes this proud heritage. The truth is that Japanese American history -- like American history at large -- is much more complex. There was a lot of debate about the idea of volunteering (or being drafted) especially from within America's concentration camps during WWII. Check out:
  • Eric Muller's Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (University of Chicago Press, 2001); or documentaries
  • Conscience & the Constitution by Frank Abe
  • Rabbit in the Moon by Emiko Omori

If you know that history, you might be interested in a historic video on You Tube: Lt. Watada talking with some of the surviving draft resisters from Heart Mountain. The film is not the best quality, but it was a historic event.

You Tube also had a video of Ehren's talk in Honolulu (I missed that since I was away at ALA):

I should point out that I'm not Japanese American, but studied the Nikkei experience for years. Lt. Watada really impresses me as an ideal citizen who should make the Nikkei community proud. We need more soldiers, reporters, and politicians(!) who think, ask tough questions, and are willing to take a stand -- even when it might be far from popular. This "Common Sense" courage is fundamental to my hope for our future.

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