Mr. Nick Bulaich’s response (“Taking issue with Hashimoto’s letter”) to my letter to the editor regarding Constitution Day, Sept. 17, and his accompanying history lesson was of interest.
I purposely prefaced my support of, “Without justice there can be no freedom, liberty, or peace,” with “This November election is about justice and about its companion — compassion.
“Only one political party has consistently demonstrated its major concerns are justice and compassion.
“I urge all citizens to vote for President Barack Obama and for those who support the goal of ‘a more perfect Union’.”
Mr. Bulaich took great offense. First, defending Republicans, Mr. Bulaich stated, “It took President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, to push for the end of slavery in this country.” He continued with “Mr. Hashimoto should know better as a former history teacher, a Japanese American who experienced an ugly moment in American history,” and finally, “… he is a political hack who needs a lot more than just a refresher course on history.”
First, a refresher course in history — the Civil War, Mr. Bulaich, was fought over: (1) protective tariffs (which the agricultural South opposed); (2) state’s rights of nullification (of not enforcing federal laws within a state); and (3) the right of secession (South Carolina voluntarily joined the Union; therefore, it can voluntarily “unjoin,” or secede). Preserving the Union, a contract (one party unilaterally cannot negate a valid contract agreed to by both parties), was Lincoln’s primary goal.
In an Aug. 22, 1862, letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
Of slavery, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863, did not free all the slaves. The 13th Amendment passed on Dec. 6, 1865, eight months after Lincoln’s assassination, did. Lincoln, many have come to believe, was not the great emancipator.
The Proclamation, however, was a brilliant piece of strategy directed to the people of Great Britain by Lincoln who wished to keep Britain from supporting the Confederacy. In effect, he asked, “Do you wish to help slavery?” Britain’s working class, living a step above slavery, responded with a resounding “No!” Staying neutral, Britain benefited by promoting the growing of cotton elsewhere in her empire.
Lincoln, considered a political hack by his foes, was, in fact, a shrewd and able politician.
Over 1,100 persons of Japanese ancestry (nearly 70 percent were American citizens) residing in Santa Cruz County and the Pajaro Valley were unjustly incarcerated as prisoners of war for three and one-half years (1942-1945). We were held by the U.S. Government without charges, attorney, trial, due process of law or equal protection of the laws. To quote Gordon Hirabayashi, “Ancestry is not a crime!”
We are grateful for the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of Aug. 10, 1988, which offered an apology and reparations to those unfairly imprisoned during World War II. But it doesn’t end there, for today the mission of Japanese Americans is to assist others who are similarly oppressed unfairly and unjustly.
All political labels are in a constant state of flux, evolution and redefinition, but, in this election, the Democratic Party is more forward looking for justice and compassion for women’s rights, GLBT equality, health care — especially for those most in need — securing Social Security, affordable college education, the Dream Act , economy and job opportunities, essential government services, national security, cultural diversity, opposition to hate groups and crimes, veterans issues, civil rights, healthy environment and foods, energy independence, separation of church and state, support for small businesses, and voting rights — all working toward “a more perfect Union.”
Mas Hashimoto is a Watsonville resident.
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