Thursday, June 15, 2006

The summer of the whales

Summer is rapidly approaching, and I'm making preparations to be spending large chunks of time watching killer whales in the Puget Sound, as I have in the past. For longtime readers, this is not anything particularly new, since I've filed a number of reports from these ventures (see here, here, and here,), not to mention some of my recent reporting work.

But this summer's work will be somewhat different in that it will be more detailed and focused. More to the point, it will be part of a larger shift of this blog into much more frequent discussion of environmental issues -- and particularly whales.

If my previous jaunts have been a little jarring for an audience somewhat accustomed to a focus on right-wing extremism and its various expressions in the mainstream, well, I expect this shift to be more in the way of a tectonic shift. I'll see if I can explain why it's occurring.

It might help to point out that, when I began writing about militias and far-right groups in the 1990s, it was only partly because I had a background in reporting on these groups and their activities in my background as a newspaperman. The larger part -- my chief angle as a freelance journalist -- was that I was an environmental reporter looking at militias specifically as a backlash phenomenon.

It all took on kind of a life of its own, however, especially after Oklahoma City, and that took me more or less to where I am today. It's important to understand why this happened: As I spent more time with the militias, it became clear to me that environmental and land-use policy was only one of many fronts through which they recruited. They also found openings on education, taxes, religious issues like abortion and homosexuality, immigration, and the whole right-wing "culture war" generally.

Much of the reason I've remained focused on the extremist right for these past several years is because they remain such a potent destructive force on so many fronts. This is why, I think, my work is valuable to people dealing with the toxic right in different areas, from the broadly political to scientific, religious, sociological, and civil-rights concerns. It's why I've kept at it.

Much of what has transpired in the past couple of decades to undermine the opposition from the left to this toxicity has been an unfortunate kind of balkanization among progressive factions: environmentalists do their thing, economists theirs, and political activists theirs, and only coincidentally do their interests intersect. I think what's needed is more of a pan-progressivism that unites, through networking and a recognition of mutual interests, the various factions into a potent whole.

A simple way of illustrating the problem is to observe that environmentalists are unusually obtuse about the threat to their interests created by the extremist religious right, and pay it, unfortunately, scant attention, except when they cross immediate paths. But generally, they leave that up to the civil-rights folks to deal with.

Likewise, it's been my observation that serious environmental concerns have mostly been the recipient of lip service from the political activist component of the progressive faction, with scant real action -- until, perhaps, recently, that is.

The growing realization of the real significance of global warming -- thanks in no small part to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth -- is bridging the gap. The political activists are realizing that environmental issues possess a transcendent quality that positively mandates action; and environmentalists, whose Beltway political pull has been on the ropes since 2000, are recognizing the political role they must play as well.

What they all have to confront, I think, is a political environment in which right-wing extremism's influence is mounting, sometimes subtly, but particularly in the knee-jerk rejection of the data on global warming from the mainstream right. Not only are mainstream media propagating nonsensical talking points, and talk-show hosts comparing Al Gore to Hitler, but of course Rush Limbaugh is piling on. Meanwhile, Republican students were hosting a fundraising party celebrating the onset of global warming. Bring it on, dudes!

Global warming is something of a pan-environmental issue itself: it affects air and water-pollution policy, it affects forest-preservation issues, it affects fisheries and marine-life issues -- including, most notably, whaling.

Whales are an especially powerful symbol of the environmental health of the planet, in part because they are simultaneously immense and enormously sentient, not to mention evolutionarily ancient compared to we humans. Global warming depresses and shifts their food sources, and so it affects them quite directly.

But in the case of whales, there are other, more immediate threats to their well-being. Specifically, there is the looming likelihood that the longtime moratorium on whaling by the International Whaling Commission is about to be overturned:
Japan and Norway, two nations that have refused to give up large-scale whaling despite widespread condemnation, are on the cusp of gaining control of the international commission that since 1986 has strictly limited whale hunting in an effort to rebuild the population of the world's largest creatures.

The impending shift, which will be on display when the International Whaling Commission convenes on the island of St. Kitts for its annual meeting June 16, has alarmed environmentalists and officials from countries that oppose commercial whaling, including the United States, Australia and New Zealand. They note that in recent years, Japan has recruited at least 19 countries -- many from West Africa and the Caribbean -- to support more whaling.

"Most Americans think the whales have been saved," said Gregory Wetstone, director of U.S. operations for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an advocacy group. "These populations cannot sustain the kind of pressure that industrial-scale whaling can bring."

With 66 or so members -- the number shifts depending on which countries show up and pay their dues -- the commission has regulated whaling for more than 50 years. But for the first time, it may be narrowly dominated by countries that support greater whale hunts. Although it would take a three-quarters vote to end the 20-year-old international moratorium, a simple majority could push for actions that could strengthen the hand of whaling nations.

The real leaders in this are the Japanese. As greenboy at Needlenose explains:
The arrogant pricks are already acting as if the ban is already gone as it is, doubling (from last year) their so-called 'scientific' kill of whales while at the same time mocking the rest of the world by serving up the 'tissue samples' at Public Relations gourmet feasts.

One noteworthy aspect of Japanese whaling -- which has been increasing steadily in recent years -- is that its use of the "scientific kill" ruse mirrors, in an ugly fashion, the Republican right's tendency to distort science to support their preferred policies. And of course, one can expect little in the way of substantive American opposition to the Japanese effort to overturn the whaling ban under the Bush administration.

I expect we can look forward to a revival of the Greenpeace-style intervention tactics, which make for great drama but also have a polarizing effect that solidifies the internal political positions of the respective pro-whaling factions.

It's time, I think, to look at other ways of effecting political change beyond media stunts and dramas at sea. One of these is the power of political networking in creating cultural shifts.

It's important to understand that Japan's cultural resistance to the ban whaling, while still strong, has been eroding rapidly in recent years. As Jim Nollman notes in his excellent The Charged Border, whale watching is rapidly growing component of the Japanese tourism industry, and attitudes about whaling are starting to perceptibly change.

When I visited Paul Spong last summer at his OrcaLab on Hanson Island, I noted that three of his volunteers were Japanese. We befriended one of them, who was on her way home after a month on the island, and we gave her a ride south for a ways and chatter her up. I asked her about this, and she said that she believed that attitudes, especially among younger Japanese, about whaling were changing very rapidly.

Maybe, instead of ramming Japanese whale boats, someone should convince Hayao Miyazaki to make a film about whales. It would probably be vastly more effective.

But even more effectively (not to mention realistically) we can begin building networks based on a recognition of our mutual interests. This is true not just with regard to the whaling issue, but environmental issue generally. Those concerned about right-wing politics need to recognize that environmental issues are a central battleground, and environmentalists need to become wise about what they're up against. Where cultural gaps exist, building bridges may prove more effective than smashing hulls.

What we do know is that, if the IWC overturns the moratorium as expected, we can expect to see a return to mass slaughters of whales for sale on the Japanese and Norwegian markets, including any number of endangered species.

Recall, too, that there really is no humane way of killing them, either. Recall the description written by Dr. Harry Lillie, "a ship's physician on an Antarctic whaling trip in the 1940s":
Dr Lillie wrote: "If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck in its stomach and being made to pull a butcher's truck through the streets of London while it pours blood into the gutter, we shall have an idea of the method of killing.

"The gunners themselves admit that if whales could scream the industry would stop, for nobody would be able to stand it."

It is the looming threat of the lifting of the moratorium -- and it appears, frankly, to be a fait accompli at this point -- that has spurred me to shift, somewhat, the focus of Orcinus.

The idea isn't so much to stop reporting on the far right as it is to broaden the mission of the blog, in line, really, with my intent for it all along. There will probably be some reportage on right-wing extremism that will get pushed out in the process. Just in the past week, for instance, there have been a number of far-right-related news events that I haven't had time to comment upon: the anti-abortion extremist in the D.C. area arrested in a bomb-building plot; the leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance being arrested on civil-rights charges in Utah; the continuing spread of racial hatemongering associated with the immigration debate.

A large part of the problem is that, even as the evidence of right-wing extremism manifesting itself in the mainstream discourse mounts daily, it's starting to feel as though I'm just repeating myself. How many more ways can I point out, really, that the expansion of the extremist right's influence in the mainstream has had the predictable effect of empowering and emboldening them? (Fortunately, it helps that there are plenty of others out there bomb.html>who are picking up on the themes frequently explored here.)

It's also starting to feel as though the continued focus has become stale; the discussion is a lot less energetic these days, and the links are fewer and farther between. And frankly, it also feels like the focus is being mistaken for an obsession. I know it comes with the territory, but I'm a little tired of being thought of, even if ever so generously, as a bit of a crank.

Obviously, as the far right insinuates itself more and more in the mainstream, I'll continue to report on it, though I'll probably be more selective in how often I point it out. It's too important a trend not to stay on top of.

Still, you should expect to see a lot more reporting here on environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on whales and their plight, and a specific focus on killer whales. A large part of the purpose will be to encourage and implement communications and networking between and among environmental advocates and political activists.

With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to Cetacean Action-Alert, a new Web site designed to facilitate networking among the various factions of whale activists and researchers, and the larger environmental movement as a whole. I'm hoping to cultivate the interest of the broader progressive community as well, because the issues being discussed, and the networking that's taking place there, have real importance in the broader perspective of combating the right on a broader scale.

I'll be posting at the Action-Alert and picking up news tidbits there. If it's something that interests you, sign up and join in. It's an experiment in the effectiveness of Web-based networking, and I'm hoping that it proves as rewarding as it is promising. [Full disclosure: The site administrator is my sister.]

Also note that I've created a new "Orca links" section to my blogroll.

I'm sure I'll lose some regular readers in this shift, though I'm hoping that most of you are coming not just for the right-wing loonies but the writing, too. I may not always write about topics you're interested in, but I hope, at least, to keep writing interestingly. Hope you all stick around for the ride.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Here comes the flood

I suppose that we shouldn't be surprised that people whose livelihoods depend on sustaining the old model of mass communications are so quick to misapprehend what's happening as that model crumbles around them.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd [subscription req'd], reporting from the YearlyKos gathering in Las Vegas, is only the most visible recent example of those from the punditry class who are teetering atop their crumbling heap and sneering at the waves lapping away at it:
As I wandered around workshops, I began to wonder if the outsiders just wanted to get in. One was devoted to training bloggers, who had heretofore not given much thought to grooming and glossy presentation, on how to be TV pundits and avoid the stereotype of nutty radical kids.

Mr. Moulitsas said he had a media coach who taught him how to stand, dress, speak, breathe and even get up from his chair. Another workshop coached Kossacks on how to talk back to Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. "One of my favorite points," the workshop leader said, "is that the French were right."

Even as Old Media is cowed by New Media, New Media is trying to become, rather than upend, Old Media….

Were the revolutionaries simply eager to be co-opted? Mr. Moulitsas grinned. "Traditionally it was hard to get your job," he said. "Now regular people can score your job."

What really aggravates pundits like Dowd -- who often earn their astonishingly powerful chunks of media real estate not so much through actual journalistic or writing merit but through a combination of luck and deviousness -- is that their influence is being diminished by people who, for heaven's sake, have no more qualifications than they do. And their evident success as opinion-makers based on their merits as writers and analysts, rather than their elite positioning atop the media heap, undermines everything that the pundit class is all about.

What Dowd doesn't get -- and which precludes her from comprehending what the hell this blogging thing is all about -- is why these bloggers exist in the first place.

And it's because of people like her.

Dowd is an examplar of the old Laswell/Lippmann model of communications, in which an elite class of "wise men" atop the media heap dispense wisdom -- and set the agenda for -- the masses from on high, and the rest of the media more or less fall into line. It was a model that more or less worked as long as (a) the elite institutions maintained their independence, both politically and economically, and (b) there was a broad diversity of mainstream media voices that could provide a conduit for information that was not disseminated from the elite towers.

Unfortunately, as media consolidation has shut down the diversity of voices, and empowered media ownership that increasingly began insisting on its own preference for a conservative bias in reporting and editorialization. As I explained awhile back:
Editors in particular played a crucial role in this, because editors directly affect not only how stories are covered, but which stories are covered. Traditionally, they also have acted as filters for bad information. And as long as there was diversity in the ranks of editors, they performed this function well.

But by the early 1990s, with diversity lessened and career tracks clearly geared for conservative yes-men, it became clear to me then that the "filtering" function of the mainstream media had become increasingly a bottleneck for information -- which was creating a real demand for the information the media failed to consistently report or emphasize.

There's a reality about this that I think most people in the mainstream media find upsetting: Information -- particularly good information, which is to say, it has factual integrity and real significance -- wants to get out; it creates its own demand for dissemination. If it's suppressed or ignored, in a democratic system, it will still find its way to the surface.

Blogging, in this sense, represents a kind of market response (that is, in the market of ideas) to the demand created by the information that wants to be disseminated. It's a way for information to get around the bottleneck. Obviously, this is as true for people on the right as for those on the left.

So really, blogs are just another communications medium, a way for information to be transmitted. Like any other medium, it has great potential for both bettering and worsening the national discourse.

What's special about blogs is their egalitarian nature: anybody can be a blogger. It represents a kind of democratization of the dissemination of information.

This is, I think, profoundly disorienting to traditional journalists, because it means their old model of the way communications is supposed to work has been upset.

That old model identifies communication with domination, as I went on to explain. The antithesis of this model -- networked person-to-person communication -- is in fact embodied, as close as possible, by the Internet.

So of course, bloggers depend on regular working journalists. So, for that matter, do editors -- and columnists. The difference with the Internet is in how the information moves -- laterally, rather than downward from on high.
Actually, the function in the old communications model that bloggers come closest to replicating is that of the editor -- not in the sense of being an overseer of writing and reportorial quality, but in setting priorities: deciding which stories are important and deserve greater attention, ascertaining which stories are reported upon.

A good blogger is not so much a journalist as a good editor (and remember, most editors are writers too). A blog is thus a kind of publication, and it attracts readers according to the quality of insight its editor brings to it.

But instead of a situation where increasingly we had only a handful of carefully selected editors who worked their way up the ranks by remaining loyal corporate yes-men, now anyone with a good news sense and a way with words can influence the course of our discourse. The Internet has shattered the old bottleneck. It has democratized how information flows in modern society.

What sparked the rise of Web-based political communication like the blogosphere was the behavior of people like Dowd. When she was named to one of the Times' cherished columnist slots, she replaced the estimable Anna Quindlen, a dependably thoughtful voice of liberalism. Dowd, in contrast, has operated more in the mode of a gossip columnist with snippy, personality-driven journalism that often becomes simply trite; while the Times' conservative columnists in the late '90s were singleminded in their pursuit of Clinton's impeachment, Dowd chose more often than not to chime in on their side, and likewise was a happy participant in the "Al Gore is a weakminded liar" theme that played out in 2000.

With that kind of voice representing "liberals" in the New York Times -- and folks like Joe Klein and Pat Caddell showing up on cable TV to represent the "liberal" side -- it's not the least surprising that genuine liberals felt the need to begin speaking up. Otherwise, their voices were not going to be heard. The blogosphere and Webzines became an effective way for that to happen.

Mind you, in some respects the blogosphere is replicating, almost out of necessity, some of the structural aspects of mainstream media: folks like Kos, Atrios, Instapundit, Malkin, and Josh Marshall all represent a kind of elite substructure within the blogosphere, built in some cases around their large communities, which function as the NYTs and WaPos of the blogosphere. But they in turn depend not just on regular journalists but on a broad network of fellow bloggers, some of whom -- like myself -- specialize in providing alternative reporting and analysis.

The effect is a real broadening of voices in our media, because the old media -- having choked itself off -- created the need for it. And those still toiling away atop their crumbling towers of influence are of course preoccupied with those egalitarian waves lapping away at them. Which is why they devote so much energy to dismissing them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

'Scoop' and the internment camps

Atrios directs us to Mark Schmitt's recent take on Peter Beinart's lionization of Henry "Scoop" Jackson -- the Washington senator (or, as he was known in these parts, "the senator from Boeing") who ran for the presidency in 1972 and 1976 -- in his recent book, The Good Fight:
There are perhaps several bits of Beinart's history that I'm tempted to challenge, but I'll pick on just one of them here because it's been bugging me for years. It's a fairly small thing, just a few pages in the book, but it is an essential pivot point for the argument and, frankly, for the New Republic view of the world. And that is the counterfactual proposition that if only, if only Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson had been the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972 or 1976, all would be right with the world.

This is an essential myth to many of the liberal hawks, to the neocons when they still considered themselves Democrats, and to some extent to the predecessors of the Democratic Leadership Council. (the Schachtmanite Committee for a Democratic Majority). And it's central to Beinart's argument. But it's not just wrong, it's ridiculous. If I went around arguing that if only Bill Bradley, who I worked for, had been the Democratic nominee in 2000, the world would be better, I might -- in some unprovable sense -- be correct, but people would still laugh at me. Because he didn't get many votes. (And that was only six years ago, not 30.) Scoop Jackson wasn't robbed of a nomination that was rightly his, or shot to death after winning the California primary. He just didn't get many votes. He fell completely flat in 1972. And in 1976, he botched the tactics, unwisely skipping Iowa and New Hampshire and so by the time he won two primaries, Jimmy Carter had already consolidated the support of conservative Democrats while the liberals were split. Scoop Jackson's not the great lost hope; he's merely one of about two dozen capable, non-brilliant Senators since 1972 who saw a president in the mirror each morning, but couldn't persuade anyone else to see the same thing. Would he have won those elections, if nominated? Who knows? Nor was Jackson some sort of foreign-policy visionary. He was a classic Western New Dealer (the really, really big spenders), who also happened to represent the biggest defense contractor of his era. The unsustainability of his pork-barrel "Guns AND Butter" policy would have tripped him up in the 1970s as surely as it did LBJ in the 1960s. If there is a deeper legacy that Jackson represents, it is uniformly a despicable one, in the form of people like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz who used him as a vehicle for their emerging theories, and if their later careers are an indication of what a Jacksonian America would have been like, then we should be thankful he was a dud as a candidate. His dud candidacy deserves no more attention than those of Lloyd Bentsen, John Glenn, Fritz Hollings, and many others.

The "liberal hawk" fondness for Henry Jackson is terribly revealing, because it displays a kind of corruption of the values they supposedly espouse. Not only did so much of the neoconservative power cadre emanate from the Scoop Jackson worldview, but so did the entire prowar faction's predilection for indulging in grotesque historical mistakes and then refusing to either acknowledge them later or admit to any accountability afterward.

Consider, if you will, Jackson's history as a congressman from Everett in the 1940s, when he not only strongly advocated the internment of Japanese Americans, but actually agitated in Congress for worsening conditions in the camps and placing greater restrictions on internees.

While researching my book Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community, I spent considerable time poring through the archives of Miller Freeman, president of the Anti-Japanese League of Washington and one of the most powerful men in the state at the time. It included a file of his correspondence with Jackson, with whom he shared a friendly relationship, though Freeman was a Republican and Jackson a Democrat. Most of all, there was a great deal of correspondence on an issue about which the men were clearly like-minded: the "Japanese problem."

As I described in Chapter 6:
The absence of the Japanese from their longtime communities during the war had not necessarily made hearts grow fonder for them. Indeed, though the frequency of the hysteria was certainly lessened by the fact the Japanese were no longer present and visible, the war-born hatred of all things "Jap" had transformed them into demon-things in the popular mind, and the dearth of daily, real-life examples to the contrary only made things worse.

Headlines reporting on the war front regularly referred to the enemy "Japs" -- as did headlines reporting on events in the WRA's relocation centers. Consistent with popular sentiments prior to the war and during the evacuation debate, letters to the editor as well as political pronouncements made no differentiation between the citizens who once had been their neighbors and the foreign enemies their sons were fighting.

Washington's congressional delegation had a particular propensity in this regard. In addition to the damage already wrought by Democratic Senator Mon Wallgren, who had chaired one of the early congressional committees recommending evacuation in 1942, then-Rep. Henry Jackson, a respected Everett Democrat, took up the anti-Japanese cause with particular relish for the war's duration. Not only was he an enthusiast of the evacuation, he was a stern advocate of the campaign to keep the Japanese from returning to the Pacific Coast -- both during and after the war. He was often seconded in this regard by his Seattle colleague, then-Rep. Warren Magnuson, who had a habit of raising groundless alarms about an imminent invasion of the Pacific Coast by the Japanese.

But it was otherwise anonymous men like Joe Matsuzawa who spurred Jackson to headline-grabbing action. In May 1943, Jackson began protesting in Congress against the Army's policy of allowing Japanese-American soldiers to visit the Pacific Coast on furlough; apparently, wearing an American uniform wasn't assurance enough of Nisei loyalty. Jackson sponsored a resolution calling for a complete investigation of "the Japanese situation," and his congressional colleagues were critical of the use of any Japanese-Americans in combat. Rep. John Costello of California sounded the familiar refrain that "you can't tell a good Jap from a bad Jap."

Jackson penned a speech that he never delivered on the subject, but it was clear he was opposed to Japanese-Americans ever returning to his home district:

What is to be the eventual disposition of the Japanese alien and native ... is the second aspect of this problem of the Pacific. Are we to return them to their former homes and businesses on the Pacific Coast to face the active antagonism of their neighbors? Shall they again, as happened in World War I, compete economically for jobs and businesses with returning war veterans?

The House Committee On Un-American Activities chaired by Texas Democrat Martin Dies also joined in on the action, partly at the urging of Jackson and others. A New Jersey Republican named J. Parnell Thomas flew out to Los Angeles and, without visiting a camp, declared that the WRA was pampering the internees. Thomas also demanded the agency halt its policy of "releasing disloyal Japs" -- that is, end its policy of relocating evacuees in jobs outside the camps.

The Dies Committee hearings provided a steady stream of scandalous headlines for a few months, bolstered by the reports of the unrest at Manzanar and Tule Lake. The most sensational of these reports involved a former motor-pool driver named Harold H. Townsend -- described in press reports as "a former official of the Poston, Ariz., relocation center" -- who told the credulous congressmen that Japanese subversives were secretly conducting Army training drills inside the relocation centers so that evacuees could spring to the aid of an invading Japanese army when it attacked the coast. What the reports also neglected to mention -- besides the lack of a shred of evidence -- was that not only had Townsend been present at the violence in Poston, but had been fired for panicking and fleeing the scene.

Dies himself held press conferences demanding that the WRA bring back all the Japanese it had relocated out of the camps and keep them interned for the duration of the war, claiming he had evidence that race riots in Detroit the week before had been the secret handiwork of an officer in the Japanese Army. Subsequent headlines detailed more wild allegations, including tales of elderly Issei secretly plotting a kamikaze attack on local forests, setting the West ablaze; caches of food being buried in the desert in a plot to aid the invading Japanese; and claims that the Japanese internees were being fed better in the camps than were American G.I.s (which may have been true, since much of the camps' food source was the farms that were operated at each of the camps by evacuees). Dies wrapped up his exploration of the "Japanese question" later that summer by reiterating its demands the WRA alter its policies -- but besides making headlines in the press, these pronouncements had little apparent effect on the changes that were already in motion at the WRA. And the Dies Committee would soon be more stridently focused on the looming "Red Menace."

The interest groups chimed in as well. The American Legion joined in on the rising anti-Japanese sentiments with its denunciation of the WRA's policy of "coddling the Japs," and longtime anti-Asian groups like the Native Sons of the Golden West (whose demeanor historically suggested vigilantism) became active in agitating alongside newer groups like the Pearl Harbor League. Some of these groups distributed signs proclaiming: "We don't want any Japs back here -- EVER!" These signs gained prominence in places like Kent, in the heart of what had been a thriving Japanese community in the White River Valley; the town's mayor, a barber, displayed the warning prominently in his shop, and earned a Time magazine appearance for it, pointing at the sign.

Jackson's definitive biography, Robert G. Kaufman's Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics, discusses this, noting that Jackson's senatorial colleague Daniel M. Inouye -- a decorated Japanese American veteran -- took a generous view of Jackson's wartime attitudes, noting that they were widespread and common. But Kaufman says [p.36]:
He is, however, too magnanimous. Jackson was not just an advocate of the internment, but an enthusiast, and he justified his attitude with a logic and rhetoric that still makes chilling reading:

We first heard much of Japanese infiltration tactics on Bataan and in the Philippines, but the Japanese had for many years practiced a different kind of infiltration -- infiltration into the vitals of our economic, political, and domestic structure. The principles of Bushido, by insidious and indirect means inserted themselves in a great many organizations in much the same fashion as the Nazis utilized their front organizations. In our great Pacific coast cities, they controlled much of the hotel and restaurant business although there was always a white manager who would front for them with the general public. They lowered the prices to their own countrymen in the fresh produce and vegetable field, ofrcing our their white competition, only to raise prices as soon as they had monopolized that sphere of business. Always they had prominent civic leaders as their attorneys, paying them on a retainer basis. Whenever a situation came up in which they were interested, they had only to contact these individuals with their specious reasons to have them immediately come forward in their interest. Investigations will show that the Japanese counsels in our large cities lavished expensive and sumptuous gifts on a great number of prominent citizens at Christmas and other appropriate occasions.

It's clear that Jackson's enthusiasm for the internment, as with so many of its advocates on the Pacific Coast, was directly predicated on the "Yellow Peril" mythology and its attendant propaganda. This isn't terribly surprising -- after all, FDR, whose administration was responsible for the internment, held similar views.

In all my research, I could, however, find no evidence that Jackson ever expressed any regret for his wartime activism against Japanese Americans, even as reparations were being discussed late in his career. He remained mum, hoping no one would remember his own role in the affair.

It is this propensity -- this refusal to acknowledge, or be held accountable for, the wrongs they've inflicted -- that sets the Jacksonites apart. Everyone can make mistakes, and Jackson's guilt would at least have been ameliorated later if he had simply acknowledged it. But he couldn't, which reveals a real blindness to the misery and suffering that politicians can intentionally inflict, and a gaping hole in their humanity.

Henry Jackson's politics represented a strain in the Democratic Party that has never gone away: a willingness to sacrifice core principles in the pursuit of an ephemeral vision of America as a benign global superpower. Because of that corruption, it's a vision doomed to collapse in a heap of hubris.

What's strangest, I suppose, is that these same people are the first ones to start talking about driving out the very factions of their own party who were right about their fearmongering all along.

Maybe they just hate being reminded of their mistakes. Or maybe they're just hoping it makes everyone else forget.