sawtell33 sawtelle31

“Latino activist Oscar de la Torre declared war on the 74-year-old art work last week and vowed to launch a campaign to “take this mural down”

Calling it “the Santa Monica confederate flag,” De la Torre said the mural is an insult to Native Americans because it shows them “bowing down to the Spaniards who came and oppressed and murdered and committed genocide in the Americas.”

Two days ago I told Marilyn that I am committed to publishing my first book in one month. I told her it would be titled ‘Sawtelle’. Yesterday, Donald Trump said he would not allow Muslims into this country if he were President. Yesterday, was December 7th. and many American people paid respects to those who lost their life when Japan attacked Pear Harbor. This attack has been compared to 911. After this “sneak attack” University High School lost 20% percent of their graduating class due to the United States Government rounding up these students, along with their parents, and putting them in internment camps. Today, Trump defended his statements by referring to FDR’s action.

The mural was painted by a good friend of my kindred, Thomas Hart Benton, the cousin of the muralist, Garth Benton, the late father of my artistic niece, Drew Benton. Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Thomas lived in Paris, and it was from Stanton that Benton got his style. Senator Thomas Hart Benton authored ‘Manifest Destiny’. I, my family, and my autobiography are at the epicenter of a cultural maelstrom. Consider Alley Valkyrie and her demands for Ken Kesey Square. Look at the Kesey murals and the destiny I beheld.


“The mural, painted by Wright, a Santa Monica native, when the historic structure was built in 1938-39, became a symbol of racism at last week’s demonstration to secure funding for PYFC. The demonstration was joined by members of the Indian American Movement’s L.A. Chapter, organizers said.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended his call to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States by comparing it to former President Roosevelt’s 1942 executive order that authorized the internment of 110,000 American citizens of Japanese descent.

“This is a president highly respected by all, he did the same thing,” Trump said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”

“We are now at war,” he added. “We have a president that doesn’t want to say that, but we are now at war.”

He shied away from the analogy during an earlier interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when host Joe Scarborough asked whether the internment camps violated American values.

“I am not proposing that,” Trump said. “This is a whole different thing.”

“The springs shown in the mural still exist today, said Lehrer, “a sacred place restored and tended by descendants of Tongva/Gabrieleno Native Americans on the grounds of University High School.”

The Tongva indigenous American People could make a powerful case letting the white man come into their country – was a huge mistake!

When I was fifteen my art teacher told me there was nothing he could teach me, and gave me a key to a gate that guarded these springs. He gave me a Artist’s Sanctuary that I could use whenever I attended his class. He took off his wristwatch and handed it to me so I could tell when his class was over. I fought back tears as I headed to these springs with a drawing board and paper. Years later Marilyn told me she used to climb the tall chain-link fence when she was thirteen, and swim in these sacred waters. She is part Meti.

Sawtelle used to be a city. After it was incorporated into the City of Los Angeles, a high school was built that was going to be named Sawtelle. Recently Sawtelle was renamed ‘Japantown’. A boundary line was drawn that stops short of the Sawtelle Veterans Home, where World War Two Veterans lived after being wounded in the War of the Pacific. Most of those Vets have died of old age. How many would object to the Sawtelle being named after Japan, whose conservative imperial war machine committed hideous atrocities. Indeed, if you are looking for a historic role model for ISIS, look to the Japanese military, who installed a systematic rape of young girls taken as sex slaves.

“The Los Angeles City Council recently unanimously approved a community petition to name the area Sawtelle Japantown. It’s also traditionally known as Sawtelle, West Los Angeles and, to some, Little Osaka.”

I point this out, because the American people have forgiven Japan for its war crimes. However, Donald Trump has picked a fight with Japan. How about Germany? Donald wants to round up Mexicans and put them back in Mexico. Trump’s  has infuriated our neighbors while his rabid supporters egg him on. History has proven this kind of talk leads to war, and thus, young men going to war. Our soldiers will die. Many will be wounded and scarred for life. How many white followers understand there will be bloodshed as Trump makes America great again? Japan’s warrior class set out to make Japan “great again”.

This quest for greatness usually entails seeing others as less than human, and thus it us permitted to treat people who are not like you as sub-humans, even like vermon and bugs. The greatness of Germany and Japan did not end by the a consensus of its leaders who committed War Crimes. They did not say; “We must change our evil ways!”  Japan and Germany was changed by American, British, and Russian soldiers. They had no choice. We beat them into submission.

Today, Japan’s leaders continue to ignore the bulk of Japans war crimes. Is there some kind od dual citizenship? Women have sued the nation of Japan because these superior men put their seed in them after they were beaten, tortured, and humiliated. Juan Cabrillo and his soldiers did the same thing to the Native Americans of the Sawtelle, who showed them a spring where they could draw water. They quenched the thirst of men who came to conquer them.

One reason why Stanton depicted this scene, was his use of Leo Carillo in the murals at the Santa Monica Library. They could have been friends. Stanton put Leo next to the actress Gloria Stuart who played Rose in the movie ‘The Titanic’. Leo is kin to conquistadors the Tongva people befriended. Then, they were betrayed.

Today, a Veterans group is suing the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to get back the Sawtelle Veterans Refuge and use it for warriors who suffer from mental illness due to the battles they have been in.

At the edge of the Sawtelle there was a Tea House Marilyn and I found, and where I brought my drawing pad. We were fifteen and sixteen. I did her portrait by a table near the crackling fire. I was in love for the first time in my life. Together we constituted an anti-war movement. It was 1962.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2015



Although he played many different ethnicities in his acting career, Leo Carrillo was Castillian Spanish and traced his ancestry in Spain to the year 1260.[1] His great-great grandfather José Raimundo Carrillo[3] (1749–1809), was a soldier in the Spanish Portolá expedition colonization of Las Californias, arriving in San Diego on July 1, 1769. Franciscan Friar Junípero Serra performed the marriage ceremony for Don Jose Raimundo and Tomasa Ignacia Lugo in 1781.[4][5] His great-grandfather Carlos Antonio Carrillo[3][6] (1783–1852) was Governor of Alta California[7] (1837–38). His great-uncle, José Antonio Carrillo, was a three-time mayor of Los Angeles and twice married to sisters of Governor Pío Pico.[8] His paternal grandfather, Pedro Carrillo, who was educated in Boston,[9] was a writer.

: The Gaspar de Portolá painting in Pynchon’s book is just a small piece in a hallway. But we decided it would serve well as a backdrop to a scene in which the mysteries of Los Angeles unfold. We liked the idea of having Doc look completely out of place in a private club. When we didn’t find an existing location, we re-dressed the lower lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre in downtown L.A. The room had a combination of wood and plaster paneling, and we added the booths, tables, chairs, and drapes.

: Paul really wanted to include the painting described in the book. He liked the idea of magnifying this explorer who led an 18th-century expedition through what is now Los Angeles. We found a mural of Portolá at the Compton post office. It matched the book’s description, down to the vegetable crates. I went to the post office one day and hoisted up a ladder to photograph the thing. I reworked the center portion of the mural and had it reproduced on canvas.

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

June 30, 2015 — A local activist who attacked a mural at City Hall as a depiction of conquered Native Americans is misinterpreting what artist Stanton MacDonald-Wright meant by the scene, said a Santa Monica Conservancy official.

Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC) founder and local Latino activist Oscar de la Torre declared war on the 74-year-old art work last week and vowed to launch a campaign to “take this mural down” during a rally protesting a funding cut for PYFC.

Calling it “the Santa Monica confederate flag,” De la Torre said the mural is an insult to Native Americans because it shows them “bowing down to the Spaniards who came and oppressed and murdered and committed genocide in the Americas.”

When placed in that context, the scene showing Native American kneeling as Spaniards stand over them could be easily misread, said Ruthann Lehrer of the Santa Monica Conservancy. Adding to the misinterpretation is the fact that few people know the story behind the scene shown in the mural, she added.

“I think the history of Santa Monica is not widely known,” said Lehrer. “I happen to know about it because the Conservancy puts on a walking tour of downtown every weekend that tells the entire story of Santa Monica’s development.

“As part of the research for that history, the story of the name was found.”

The mural, painted by Wright, a Santa Monica native, when the historic structure was built in 1938-39, became a symbol of racism at last week’s demonstration to secure funding for PYFC. The demonstration was joined by members of the Indian American Movement’s L.A. Chapter, organizers said.

But Lehrer said Wright’s mural is apolitical. The scene showing Native Americans, a Spanish friar and two Conquistadors together at a stream stems from “an oft-repeated legend about the naming of Santa Monica,” she added.

“Father Juan Crespi, one of the diarists of the Portola expedition of 1769 to Alta California, describes arriving at the location of springs near here, shown to them by friendly Native Americans who also brought food and gifts,” said Wright.

“The story goes that Father Crespi remarked that the streams of water reminded him of the tears of Saint Monica as she lamented over her then-wayward son Augustine before his conversion, as that day was Saint Monica’s name-day.

“This story supposedly later inspired the naming of our City as Santa Monica,” said Lehrer.

The springs shown in the mural still exist today, said Lehrer, “a sacred place restored and tended by descendants of Tongva/Gabrieleno Native Americans on the grounds of University High School.”

“So what is depicted in the mural shows Native Americans revealing a natural spring to their visitors, water being a precious resource and the source of life for people and animals.”

Although he was born into privilege — his father owned a resort on Santa Monica Beach — Wright worked as an artist for the federal government’s New Deal for American workers, a program that put thousands of unemployed artists to work.

“It was one of the most democratic programs of its time,” said Lehrer. “It was a program designed to create art for the people.”

As director of the Southern California Works Progress Administration from 1935 to 1942, Wright was commissioned to complete murals that now adorn walls at City Hall and the Santa Monica Public Library.

“He created and inspired public art for the people, and was a charismatic presence in the Los Angeles art scene for several decades,” said Lehrer.

Lehrer said she hopes Wright’s intention and the meaning of his mural will become clearer as more people learn about the legend behind it.

Given that violence and genocide were the basis of the colonization of what is now the United States, it should be no surprise that hate and brutality lie just under the surface of the so-called civil white society. This country’s second original sin – the horrifying institution of slavery – is also built into the foundation of white supremacy on which the US was built.

When the US “expanded” through a strategy of killing Indigenous people in order to steal their lands – with its economic growth largely relying on the uncompensated labor of individuals whose bodies were stolen – it built its foundation on the lofty language of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution thinly wrapped over an ossuary.

The Bayview Hotel was used as a “rape center”.[2] According to testimony at the Yamashita war crimes trial, 400 women and girls were rounded up from Manila’s wealthy Ermita district, and submitted to a selection board that picked out the 25 considered most beautiful. These women, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where Japanese enlisted men and officers took turns raping them.[3]

A group of veterans is suing the Department of Veteran Affairs, saying the 387 acre West LA VA campus has been used improperly and that they want more of it to be dedicated to mentally ill vets. According to the AP, the lawsuit says that the land was deeded to the government in 1888 “in order to provide housing for disabled war veterans.” But at this point, a lot of the buildings are empty and one-third have been leased out for commercial uses–the New York Times says homeless advocates think that’s the VA “bowing to residents of the property’s prosperous Brentwood neighborhood.” Non-vet uses include: a car rental agency, a laundry for the Marriott, a sporting facility for UCLA, and a theater operator. A lawyer for the ACLU, which is working on the suit, told the AP that the VA “never publicized” what it receives for those leases or what the proceeds are used for. If the suit is successful, it’ll mean housing for mentally ill veterans–the lawyer says the campus “could be made suitable for these veterans in less than the five or so months it took to plan and invade Iraq,” which seems a little farfetched considering many of the unused buildings are aging and need seismic work. Being a giant piece of land on the Westside has made the West LA VA campus frequently coveted over the years.
· Homeless Veterans Sue Over Neglected Campus [NYT]
· Suit: VA misusing LA land meant for homeless vets [AP]

As the debate on how best to contain the Islamic State continues to rage in Western capitals, the militants themselves have made one point patently clear: They want the United States and its allies to be dragged into a ground war.

In fact, when the United States first invaded Iraq, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the move was the man who founded the terrorist cell that would one day become the Islamic State, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He excitedly called the Americans’ 2003 intervention “the Blessed Invasion.”

His reaction — ignored by some, and dismissed as rhetoric by others — points to one of the core beliefs motivating the terrorist group now holding large stretches of Iraq and Syria: the group bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region.

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Should that invasion happen, the Islamic State would not only be able to declare its prophecy fulfilled, but could also turn the occurrence into a new recruiting drive at the very moment when the terror group appears to be losing volunteers.

It is partly that theory that President Obama referred to in his speech on Sunday, when he said the United States should pursue a “sustainable victory” that involves airstrikes and supports local forces battling the Islamic State rather than sending a new generation of American soldiers into a ground offensive.

“I have said it repeatedly: Because of these prophecies, going in on the ground would be the worst trap to fall into. They want troops on the ground. Because they have already envisioned it,” said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po in Paris, and the author of “Apocalypse in Islam,” one of the main scholarly texts exploring the scripture that the militants base their ideology on.

“It’s a very powerful and emotional narrative. It gives the potential recruit and the actual fighters the feeling that not only are they part of the elite, they are also part of the final battle.”

The Islamic State’s propaganda is rife with references to apocalyptic prophecy about the last great battle that sets the stage for the end times. Terrorism experts say it has become a powerful recruiting tool for the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which sells potential fighters on the promise that joining will give them the most direct chance to battle Western interests and will bring ancient Islamic prophecies to fruition.

The specific scripture they are referring to describes a battle in Dabiq as well as al-Amaq, small towns that still exist in northern Syria. The countdown to the apocalypse begins once the “Romans” — a term that militants have now conveniently expanded to include Americans and their allies — set foot in Dabiq.

War crimes have been defined by the Tokyo Charter as “violations of the laws or customs of war,”[16] which includes crimes against enemy combatants and enemy non-combatants.[17] War crimes also included deliberate attacks on citizens and property of neutral states as they fall under the category of non-combatants, as at the attack on Pearl Harbor.[18] Military personnel from the Empire of Japan have been accused or convicted of committing many such acts during the period of Japanese imperialism from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. They have been accused of conducting a series of human rights abuses against civilians and prisoners of war throughout East Asia and the western Pacific region. These events reached their height during the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937–45 and the Asian and Pacific campaigns of World War II (1941–45). In addition to Japanese civil and military personnel, Koreans and Taiwanese who were forced to serve in the military of the Empire of Japan were also found to have committed war crimes as part of the Japanese Imperial Army.[

There is a widespread perception that the Japanese government has not accepted the legal responsibility for compensation and, as a direct consequence of this denial, it has failed to compensate the individual victims of Japanese atrocities. In particular, a number of prominent human rights and women’s rights organisations insist that Japan still has a moral or legal responsibility to compensate individual victims, especially the sex slaves conscripted by the Japanese military in occupied countries and known as comfort women.

The Japanese government officially accepted the requirement for monetary compensation to victims of war crimes, as specified by the Potsdam Declaration. The details of this compensation have been left to bilateral treaties with individual countries, except North Korea, because Japan recognises South Korea as the sole legitimate government of the Korean Peninsula. In the Asian countries involved, claims to compensation were either abandoned by their respective countries, or were paid out by Japan under the specific understanding that it was to be used for individual compensation. In some cases such as with South Korea, the compensation was not paid out to victims by their governments, instead being used for civic projects and other works. Due to this, large numbers of individual victims in Asia received no compensation.

Therefore, the Japanese government’s position is that the proper avenues for further claims are the governments of the respective claimants. As a result, every individual compensation claim brought to Japanese court has failed. Such was the case in regard to a British POW who was unsuccessful in an attempt to sue the Japanese government for additional money for compensation. As a result, the British Government later paid additional compensation to all British POWs. There were complaints in Japan that the international media simply stated that the former POW was demanding compensation and failed to clarify that he was seeking further compensation, in addition to that paid previously by the Japanese government.

A small number of claims have also been brought in US courts, though these have also been rejected

MANILA— Jintaro Ishida knows his country’s guilty secrets. Like few other Japanese, he knows in detail about the atrocities of World War II, and he knows of the quiet torment of the aging veterans who took part.

He knows, for example, about the massacre at the well in the Philippine village of Lipa, where 400 people were thrown to their deaths. The blood lust of the soldiers ran so high, he says, that one of them smashed a rock onto the head of a woman who was combing her hair.

Mr. Ishida, 79, who served in the navy during the war, is tortured by the scenes, as if he himself had taken part. He rises in agitation as he describes them, waving his arms as if combing his hair, then whipping them downward like a crazed soldier flinging a stone.

Over the past decade, Mr. Ishida, a retired schoolteacher, has made it his self-assigned mission to search out the scenes of massacres in the Philippines, to interview survivors, then to return to Japan to coax from the silent veterans their guiltiest memories.

He seems driven by a compulsion to overcome the ignorance of his countrymen, which he says he shared. ”A country with no self-criticism cannot heal itself,” he said in an interview here. ”Even if you were born after the war, you still shoulder the history of your country.”

Like the single-minded researchers of the Nazi Holocaust, he is determined that history not be forgotten. Unlike those Jewish researchers, though, Mr. Ishida represents the victimizers rather than the victims.

But in a nation that steadfastly turns its face away from the most shameful episodes of its past, Mr. Ishida’s is one voice that nobody wants to hear.

He has written and published two books of the accounts of the soldiers and their victims and has led a small number of Japanese on a half-dozen tours to see for themselves. But he has made almost no impact at home. Few Japanese have read his books or know his name.

”He is a very unusual man,” said F. Sionil Jose, a leading Philippine author who wrote an afterword to Mr. Ishida’s more recent book. ”The fact is that even though he is not well known, he is doing something heroic. My own feeling is, he is hounded by feelings of guilt.”

With his small pack, his plastic water bottle and his baseball cap, he has journeyed alone to remote villages, where he was sometimes threatened by survivors who are still angry at the Japanese.

Then, back at home, he has traveled the country accosting and interviewing nearly 100 former soldiers who took part in the crimes.

Some of the veterans refused to talk to him. Others confessed secrets they had never even told their wives. Some told him later that their meetings with him had left them with nightmares.

In plain language and painstaking detail, Mr. Ishida’s books present the words of both the Filipinos and the Japanese he interviewed, along with his own anguished reactions. In small, obscure printings, ignored by newspaper reviewers, the books spent only a few weeks in bookstores before being removed from the shelves.

Japan’s refusal to acknowledge its wartime crimes was highlighted recently by the publication of textbooks that gloss over the past and by the visit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors fallen Japanese soldiers.

That visit has drawn strong condemnation from nations invaded by Japan, like China, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

”Koizumi felt sorry for the young Japanese who died in the war,” Mr. Ishida said. ”But young people all around Asia died too. It is not enough to pray only for the soldiers of your own country.”

Mr. Ishida is one of a small corps of researchers who are swimming against the tide of ignorance in Japan. A former newspaper reporter named Katsuichi Honda has published research about war crimes in China. A professor named Aiko Utsumi has researched war crimes committed in Indonesia.

Like many other Japanese, Mr. Ishida said, he had been ignorant of the dark side of his country’s history — of the massacres, sexual slavery, forced labor and the use of chemical and biological warfare.

After he retired in 1988, he decided to travel through Asia spreading the word about the horrors of the two atomic bombs dropped by the United States at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the war. Instead of sympathy, he said, he sometimes found hostility.

”I was shocked to discover that the bombs were dropped to stop Japan,” he said. ”I had thought that people around the world would understand the misery caused by the atomic bombs, but I realized that this idea was a very selfish one.”

He began reading wartime accounts, searching through the records of war crimes trials and systematically visiting the sites of massacres. Wherever he went, he said, the survivors had one question: How could the Japanese have been so cruel?

”Many people asked me this,” he said. ”They asked me why the Japanese killed men, women and children even when their officers were not there to make them do it. Why didn’t they let these people escape? I had no answer for them. I told them I had no experience in the battlefield. This made them angry. ‘That’s not a good enough answer. Why can’t you answer the question?’ ”

When he confronted the Japanese veterans, he said, he found something as disturbing as anything he saw in the Philippines: the men who had committed atrocities were ordinary Japanese like himself.

”During the war I was in the navy and never went to the Philippines,” he said. ”But if I had been assigned there I would have been one of the Japanese soldiers who took part in the massacres. So it was hard for me to continue with the interviews. It was a horrible experience for me.”

The result is an extraordinary work of parallel reporting, a book called ”The Remains of War: Apology and Forgiveness,” published this year in English by Megabooks Company in the Philippines.

Its Japanese title is ”The Killers and the Killed.” Like his earlier book, ”Walang Hiya,” which in the Philippine language of Tagalog means ”Without Shame,” it offered the first opportunity for Japanese to hear the stories of the victims.

”I really appreciate his work,” said Mayumi Horita, 27, a Japanese teacher who served as his interpreter here. ”I feel disappointed that most Japanese don’t know about him. Japanese should learn that if they tell the truth they will feel relieved. But they are afraid they will suffer more if they do.”

Indeed, that seems to have been true of many of the veterans Mr. Ishida talked to.

One old soldier, he said, told of taking part in a massacre at a village south of Manila called Calamba where 2,000 people were killed on Feb. 12, 1945.

”This is how they massacred people in that village,” Mr. Ishida said, rising again to gesture as he spoke. ”They took the old men in a truck to the church. They used a rope to strangle them. It was an easier and cheaper way to kill them than with rifles and bullets.

”The soldier who told me about this said this memory was too painful for him. He said he envied his comrades who had been killed and wished he could die too.”

The massacre at the well began on Feb. 27, 1945. A Japanese military unit ran wild in the village of Lipa, killing a total of more than 1,000 people.

”In the beginning, we could not kill even a man,” says one of the soldiers at Lipa who is quoted in Mr. Ishida’s new book. ”But we managed to kill him.

”Then we hesitated to kill a woman. But we managed to kill her, too. Then we could kill children. We came to think as if we were just killing insects.”

Today, Mr. Ishida seems stunned by what he has learned about his comrades and about human nature. ”These stories were beyond anything I had expected,” he said. ”How could they have done this? Did they have no conscience?”

After a decade of research he has compiled a wealth of historical material. But he has been left with more questions than ever.

Photo: Jintaro Ishida with a monument to Filipino and American prisoners who died at the hands of the Japanese. (Seth Mydans/The New York Times)

Comfort women were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II and by the South Korean military during the Vietnam War.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese euphemism ianfu (慰安婦) and the similar Korean term wianbu (위안부).[8] Ianfu is a euphemism for “prostitute(s)”.[9] Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000[10] to as high as 360,000 to 410,000, in Chinese sources;[11] the exact numbers are still being researched and debated.[12] Many of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines,[13] although women from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan (then a Japanese dependency), Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies), East Timor (then Portuguese Timor),[14][15] and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military “comfort stations”. Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina.[16] A smaller number of women of European origin from the Netherlands and Australia were also involved.

According to testimony, young women from countries in Imperial Japanese custody were abducted from their homes. In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants; once recruited, the women were incarcerated in comfort stations in foreign lands.[17]


Treatment of comfort women

Approximately three quarters of comfort women died, and most survivors were left infertile due to sexual trauma or sexually transmitted diseases.[56] Beatings and physical torture were said to be common.[57]

Ten Dutch women were taken by force from prison camps in Java by officers of the Japanese Imperial Army to become forced sex slaves in February 1944. They were systematically beaten and raped day and night.[57][58] As a victim of the incident, in 1990, Jan Ruff-O’Herne testified to a U.S. House of Representatives committee:

Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutalities, suffering and starvation of Dutch women in Japanese prison camps. But one story was never told, the most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II: The story of the “Comfort Women”, the jugun ianfu, and how these women were forcibly seized against their will, to provide sexual services for the Japanese Imperial Army. In the “comfort station” I was systematically beaten and raped day and night. Even the Japanese doctor raped me each time he visited the brothel to examine us for venereal disease.[57][58]

In their first morning at the brothel, photographs of Ruff-O’Herne and the others were taken and placed on the veranda which was used as a reception area for the Japanese personnel who would choose from these photographs. Over the following four months the girls were raped and beaten day and night, with those who became pregnant forced to have abortions. After four harrowing months, the girls were moved to a camp at Bogor, in West Java, where they were reunited with their families. This camp was exclusively for women who had been put into military brothels, and the Japanese warned the inmates that if anyone told what had happened to them, they and their family members would be killed. Several months later the O’Hernes were transferred to a camp at Batavia, which was liberated on August 15, 1945.[59][60]

In negotiations, the South Korean government initially demanded $364 million in compensation for Koreans forced by into labor and military service during the Japanese occupation; $200 per survivor, $1,650 per death and $2,000 per injured person.[92] In the final agreement Tokyo provided an $800 million aid and low-interest loan package over 10 years.[93] In 1994, the Japanese government set up the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) to distribute additional compensation to South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Indonesia.[94] Sixty one Korean, 13 Taiwanese, 211 Filipino, and 79 Dutch former comfort women were provided with a signed apology from the then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, stating “As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”[95][96] However, many former Korean comfort women rejected the compensations because of pressure from a non-government organization known as the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, or “Chongdaehyop”, and because of media pressure. Eventually, 61 former Korean comfort women accepted 5 million yen (approx. $42,000[98]) per person from the AWF along with the signed apology, while 142 others received funds from the government of Korea.[99][100][101] The fund was dissolved on March 31, 2007.[96][102]

Before the recent election in Canada, I read an email from the progressive Council of Canadians (Le Conseil des Canadiens) warning that another xenophobic government led by Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper would lead the nation further down the path of suffering.

In the end, Liberal Party Candidate Justin Trudeau ended the nearly 10-year right-wing rule of Harper in October of this year. However, after the terrorist attack on the Planned Parenthood Center in Colorado on November 27, my mind returned to a quotation from that Council of Canadians’ email that warned that fear and those who incite it lead a nation to its basest inclinations: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Just as fear stifles the thinking of an individual, so a country comes to be self-immolating by burning itself up in hate rather than harnessing the promise of its collective strength.

That is a perilous path, but it is one that the United States is experiencing with violent and not infrequently lethal outcomes: attacks on providers of medical services to women, racist shootings by police and white civilians, violence against migrants, killings of people because of their gender identities, brutal treatment of protesters and the massive number of deaths caused by US military intervention abroad among other legacies of this nation’s violent, racist and exclusionary history.

A Tampa Bay Times November 28 article recounts how “thousands cheer[ed] on insult-throwing Donald Trump at [a] Sarasota rally” on Saturday. There is little need to recount the countless inciting statements made by Trump over the last few months. His words combine cunning and brutality, giving his audiences license to hate and commit acts of violence (as he did when he commented that it was okay to “rough up” a Black Lives Matter protester at a rally because he “deserved” it).

It’s not Trump alone who is creating a society that may destroy itself through fear, hate and anger and the suffering that ensues. Columnist Bob Koehler writes in a BuzzFlash commentary today about how violence underlies the foreign policy outlooks of Republican and Democratic politicians alike.

Given that violence and genocide were the basis of the colonization of what is now the United States, it should be no surprise that hate and brutality lie just under the surface of the so-called civil white society. This country’s second original sin – the horrifying institution of slavery – is also built into the foundation of white supremacy on which the US was built.

When the US “expanded” through a strategy of killing Indigenous people in order to steal their lands – with its economic growth largely relying on the uncompensated labor of individuals whose bodies were stolen – it built its foundation on the lofty language of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution thinly wrapped over an ossuary.

After all, this is a nation that chisels the words that “all men are created equal” into every school child, but in reality, the principle was only applied to white men who owned property when it was written by Thomas Jefferson (who was a slave “owner” himself). The tension between the myth that the US was created to emancipate all people and its exclusionary intent still exists today, often manifesting in acts of violence and killings that are kindled by words spoken by “leaders” who stridently – even if in coded phrasing – oppose the inclusion of non-whites (and sometimes even non-Christians) in a participatory democracy.

Ultimately, the spread of fear, hate and anger leads not only to the suffering and death of the victims, but to the collapse of democracy as a whole. Just as fear stifles the thinking of an individual, so a country comes to be self-immolating by burning itself up in hate rather than harnessing the promise of its collective strength.

As the poet Bei Dao wrote, “Freedom is nothing but the distance / between the hunter and the hunted.”

The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Originally, this article referred to the Council of Canadians as the Council on Canadians. It has been corrected.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Sawtelle

  1. Reblogged this on rosamondpress and commented:

    The Great Spirit of the Labyrinth has guided my writing hand – to the truth!

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