Dear friends of Never Give Up!
TOP OF THE NEWS! The “No Muslim Ban Ever” mobilization
I was invited by Deepa Iyer of The Center for Social Inclusion to screen Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice and to speak at the “No Muslim Ban Ever” mobilization in Washington DC on October 18, the date it was scheduled to go into effect. It turns out that at the 11th hour, two federal judges – both Asian American! – stayed the latest version of the ban, as a continuation of the two previous versions which were also struck down by the federal District and Circuit Courts. That was an encouraging development in the case that the U.S. Supreme Court avoided by cancelling the hearing that had been scheduled for October 10. But the government is appealing the lower courts’ rulings so it is sure to come before the high court again in coming months.
I was uplifted and inspired by the No Muslim Ban rally, mostly by the incredibly beautiful, outspoken young Muslim women, whose families came from Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia –
… and the organizers, who were also women, Deepa Iyer, Linda Sarsour, and Avideh Moussavian … and delighted to be accompanied by my friend and colleague Karen Kai, from the team of coram nobis attorneys who re-opened the wartime Japanese American cases in 1983; and Laura Li of 18MillionRising who took care of us; and very pleased by the presence of National JACL in the person of the new Executive Director, David Inoue, accompanied by sansei, yonsei and gosei, and a taiko drummer who set the pace for our march ….
photo by Les Talusan
I was grateful that they, along with 18MR and Asian Americans Advancing Justice corroborated my statement, that the Japanese American community stands in solidarity with the Muslim American community because we see the parallels between the JA internment during WWII and the Muslim ban today; we know from our own history the pain and injustice of being singled out and punished solely on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.
I also saw and heard other allies standing up in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, speaking up and speaking out – a fiery Jewish rabbi; a bold undocumented Dreamer; an African American civil rights attorney … and in the audience, all ages and colors, including Code Pink activists in Statue of Liberty togas, crowns and carrying cellophane torches …
Photo by Les Talusan
rowdy members of the Yemini Merchants Association and their supporters who arrived in DC by bus from New York City; immigrant rights groups; faith-based organizations …
photo by Les Talusan
representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Oxfam, moveon.org...
Photo by Les Talusan
What a beautifully diverse coalition unified by a transcendent commitment to social justice. It was really an amazing experience for which I will always be deeply grateful to the organizers and all the other participants.
Photo by Les Talusan
When we say Stop Repeating History, I now believe we CAN, now that I’ve seen Muslim activists and their allies in action … because a huge and most important difference I see between 1942 and 2017 is this outpouring of solidarity. When Japanese American families were uprooted and imprisoned in American concentration camps, there was no organized resistance or opposition … except for the American Friends Service Committee, which helped college students to transfer to schools outside of the West Coast exclusion zones from which all Japanese Americans were banned. During World War II, there were individuals who sympathized, who tried to help their neighbors and friends in small, personal ways they could, but in many cases, those people were thereupon vilified as “Jap-lovers” and run out of town.
And in 1942 the federal courts deferred to the government’s false claims of “military necessity” and the U.S. Supreme Court did not apply its own standard of strict scrutiny to the clearly racist intentions behind the Japanese American internment. Today, seventy-five years later, the District Court of Hawaii and the 4th Circuit Court in Maryland are NOT deferring to the current government’s claims of “national security.” Instead, they are questioning the President’s intentions and evidence in the Homeland Security report, which allegedly justifies banning immigrants from 6 majority-Muslim countries from entering our country.
So, to see the support from such diverse groups as represented at the No Muslim Ban Ever rally and in the lower federal courts, is a non-parallel that makes me think that this time around we are, perhaps learning from history and may not be condemned to repeating it but instead advancing toward building a more just and peaceful world.
Post-film discussion with Zainab Chaundry,of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Rethink Media; and Jehan Hakim, grassroots organizer with Asian Americans Advancing Justice – San Francisco. Photo: Greg Cendana
I’d like to end this report with a statement sent to me for the No Muslim Ban rally by Jay Hirabayashi, son of Gordon Hirabayashi who also purposely challenged the discriminatory policies of the U.S. government during World War II. Jay, who is an extraordinarily wise and spiritually centered person writes:
Currently, President Trump wants to restrict persons, largely from nations populated with a Muslim majority, from entering the United States. He wants to discriminate based on nationality and religion and not on actual evidence. He wants to repeat what President Roosevelt did to Japanese Americans during World War II. In fact, however, more Americans have been killed in the past nine months by white American male terrorists who have no connection “radical Islamic terrorists.” Would it not make more sense to impose a curfew or mass-intern all white American males that have guns? Of course not. You cannot reasonably assume that all white American males are likely to commit terrorist acts just because a handful in the past 8 months have killed 63 people and injured more than 500 …
I do think that it does, however, make more sense to ban guns instead of Muslims!
So what does the future hold for us? The U.S. Supreme Court is certainly going to be a major hurdle, given that it allowed parts of the second version of the ban to be implemented this summer, but it is clear that the people and organizations opposing the ban will not back down!
We say: Stop Repeating History! We say: No Muslim Ban EVER!
We screened Never Give Up! in various venues in September and October of this year, and have plans to screen it in November and December.
Many thanks to Roberta Badger-Cain who organized the screening of the film at the First Presbyterian Church of Portland on September 24; Barb Yasui who brought the film to Bellevue College in the greater Seattle area on October 5; Weston Koyama, Min Yasui Endowment for Civil and Human Rights fellow at the University of Oregon School of Law who organized a screening at the Law School on Min Yasui’s 101st birthday, October 19; Megan Dudley of Meaningful Movies in Ridgefield, WA who organized the screening of the film on October 25; to Mychal Cherry of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, OR who organized the screeing on Oct 26; and to Chris Keaveney of Linfield College, McMinnville, OR who organized the screening on Oct 27.
Thanks to Noah Glusman, who is screening the film in his Social Activism class at the University of Oregon on November 1; the National Association of Multicultural Education, which chose Never Give Up! for its 2018 Multicultural Film/Media Award and will screen the film on November 3; Sherrie Hayashi, Salt Lake City JACL and Cynthia Bayse, Oregon Nikkei Endowment, which will screen the film on November 4 in Salt Lake City and in Portland respectively; Pete Barrell, Cottage Grove Public Library plans to screen the film on November 20; Peggy RIvage-Seul at Berea College is sponsoring the film for her class on November 29 in Kentucky; and Donna Cole is organizing a “Texas Tour” including screenings on Dec 1-2 at St. Thomas University and Rice University in Houston, TEX; Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX; and the University of Texas-San Antonio in San Antonio, TX.
Please let us know if you or your organization are interested in screening the film – there is no charge for educational and community groups and we can provide you with a press-packet to help with promotion of your event. I expect to be back in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington state) at the end of March, 2018 – for Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon.
And for those of you who live in or have friends or family in Oregon, we are promoting a Minoru Yasui Day essay contest for middle-school and high-school students. A package of resource materials, including Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice, will be made available to Public Libraries and teachers upon request.
Please help us to get the word out to Oregon libraries and schools.
Thank you! Holly Yasui, co-director, Never Give Up!