Reasoning, Counterreasonings, and Counter-conduct

T. Fujitani

in Race for Empire

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262232
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950368 | DOI:
Reasoning, Counterreasonings, and Counter-conduct

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One of the most striking aspects of Japanese American responses to registration and the campaign for army volunteers is the intensity and frequency with which they produced counterquestions. This chapter transcribes and clusters together examples of the major types of questions that internees asked at their many meetings with the War Department teams and WRA administrators. This cacophony of counterquestions produced conversations among the internees themselves, responses from the authorities, and further counterresponses, resulting in rather coherent discursive formations. The dominant discourses included two versions of Americanism called “unconditional loyalty” and “conditional loyalty.” These discourses shared many characteristics even as they produced and reflected conflicts among the internees. The common elements included, most importantly, valorization of the supposedly unique universal ideals of America: freedom, equality, security, and happiness. This overlapping made it possible and common for individuals to move from the logic of “conditional” to “unconditional” loyalty as a result of dialogues with or compulsion from other internees or the authorities. On the other hand, discourses that explicitly rejected the truthfulness of America's claims to embody these universal ideals existed as well and had the potential to radically sabotage the governors' reasoning.

Keywords: Japanese Americans; army volunteers; registration; conditional loyalty; unconditional loyalty

Chapter.  18307 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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