Friday, December 11, 2015

Conrad Smith calling

                                                                © 2015 Teresa Tamura
I spoke with Conrad Smith, now a journalism professor at 
University of Wyoming, and students in his feature-writing course. 
The discussion compared perceptions about the Japanese American 
community in World War II to Muslims in America today.

Conrad Smith was a journalism professor at Idaho State University from 1977 to 1981. I was a student in his class, Introduction to Mass Communications. I mention Conrad in the preface of Minidoka. He "urged me to look into the camp."

Conrad emailed an invitation to meet with his class via Skype. The message began: "I've been meaning to contact you since receiving a copy of your Minidoka book two years ago with those kind comments about that class at ISU. Donald Trump's comments about Muslims, as reported in today's [Dec. 8, 2015] New York Times, pushed me to act..."

He included this excerpt from the story headlined: "Donald Trump Deflects Withering Fire on Muslim Plan." "Repudiated across much of the political spectrum but defended on conservative talk radio, Donald J. Trump on Tuesday stood by his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States. He cast it as a temporary move in response to terrorism and involved President Franklin D. Roosevelt's authorization of the detention of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants during World War II as precedent.

The fear of "all Muslims" reverberates back to World War II and the mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans. While violent acts have occurred, our fear should not dictate rash decisions.

                                                                                      © 2015 Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith, far right, used a 20mm lens to take this
classroom scene at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

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