From the 2006 Congressional testimony of Fumiko Hayashida, to the “Leaving Our Island” curriculum at Bainbridge Island School District, to guided tours at the Exclusion Memorial, the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community has made it its mission to help educate others about Executive Order 9066 and the resulting incarceration of more than 100,000 innocent residents of Japanese descent during WWII. Through education and outreach BIJAC hopes to raise awareness and prevent similar injustices from ever happening again. Much of this mission is advanced with the help of friends, neighbors, educators, historians, academics, and others. Recently, one such individual reached out to BIJAC to point out inaccuracies in a travel website featuring “21 Best Things to Do on Bainbridge Island, Washington.” She subsequently contacted the editors of the site, VacationIdea.com. Her email read,
I recently read an article in your publication (dated May 4, 2021) entitled “21 Best Things to Do on Bainbridge Island.” While I was interested to learn about the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial located on Bainbridge Island, WA, I take issue with the author’s wording in reference to the motivations behind the removal of Japanese Americans from the island.
In an apparent effort to explain the removal, the author writes: “Due to the fact that the island is somewhat close to a number of naval bases, 227 Japanese American residents were forced to leave the island during World War II.” While that may have been the pretext used by our government for that specific removal action, the rounding up of Japanese Americans (men, women, and children) on the island and up and down the entire West Coast was not due to the physical location of any military facilities. Historians now agree: only mass hysteria fueled by raw racism can explain the cruel and summary displacement of these law-abiding citizens from their homes and businesses.
I invite you to read Stubborn Twig, by Lauren Kessler, a well-researched account of the impact of removal actions taken against Japanese Americans in Hood River, Oregon in order to become better acquainted with that sorry chapter in our history.
Accordingly, I ask that your publication publish a correction to clarify the historical record and to disavow any possible suggestion created by the author’s wording that these removal actions were justified due to a military purpose or any other purpose.
Ellen Sward, MSW, JD
To their credit, around July 9th the editors at VacationIdea.com altered the post describing the Exclusion Memorial. However, the description now reads, “227 Japanese American residents were forced to leave the island during World War II. Most of them were interred in Manzanar, CA. The memorial has a cedar wall with the names of all of those interred.” We will be contacting VacationIdea.com once again to request a correction, as most of the incarcerees from Bainbridge Island did, in fact, make it out alive and were not interred in Manzanar. Readers who would like to provide feedback to VacationIdea.com are welcome to contact them at the address provided on their website: email@example.com.
Thank you, Ms. Sward, for caring enough to set the story straight and for insisting on accurate reporting of history.
~ Webmaster @ BIJAC.org
***Update: as of 7/12/2021, VacationIdea.com has corrected its listing and removed the reference to residents being interred in Manzanar.”