Tule Lake revisited and reframed

TULE LAKE REVISITED: A BRIEF HISTORY AND GUIDE TO THE TULE LAKE CONCENTRATION CAMP SITE (second edition)

TULE LAKE REVISITED: A BRIEF HISTORY AND GUIDE TO THE TULE LAKE CONCENTRATION CAMP SITE (second edition)

TULE LAKE REVISITED: A BRIEF HISTORY AND GUIDE TO THE TULE LAKE CONCENTRATION CAMP SITE (second edition)
By Barbara Takei and Judy Tachibana (San Francisco: Tule Lake Committee Inc., 56 pp., $15, spiral bound)

This is a timely and much needed revision of the original “Tule Lake” (2001). Much has transpired, beginning with the transformation of the Tule Late site as a National Historical Landmark, the highest designation bestowed on a historical place. Moreover, a Presidential Proclamation brought the Tule Lake site under the National Park Service as a National Monument. In addition to updating the status of Tule Lake, there is an expanded discussion of what made Tule Lake unique and a special place after being designated as a segregation center. To be sure, there is more research to be done on the machinations and intrigues of government actions and policies during this time.

Furthermore, in this publication, there are no attempts at interpreting the War Relocation Authority and those who followed, as “protector,” “assimilationist” or “cultural pluralist.” What is made clear is the legal use and therefore misuse of “interned,” “internment” and “internee.” Moreover, internees were aliens and therefore covered by the Geneva Conventions. To put it simply, Issei internees who were interned in interment centers had more legal protections than “non-aliens” (the euphemism for U.S. citizens) of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated in “relocation centers.”

The discussion of euphemisms and the power of words help to frame what happened at Tule Lake, how these euphemisms affected our collective memories, and why our governments, as well as others, used these words. One is reminded of the sign at the entrance of Auschwitz (a death camp not a concentration camp), “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Makes One Free”).

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