Wednesday, February 20, 2002
I take issue with your editorial, "Homer's Odyssey", which comments on the visit of Dr. Homer Yasui to Hood River. I quote, "There is no need to rehash the wrongs that were done to American citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent, during World War II. They happened throughout the western United States, including Hood River. It is a part of our history we should neither shield nor bear too heavily on our shoulders."
This seems to dismiss or ignore the special brand of ugliness present in the Hood River Valley after World War II. Lauren Kessler in her book, Stubborn Twig, about the Yasui family and the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, recounts how after the war the virulence of anti-Japanese discrimination in Hood River was so great that government officials from Washington, D.C. were sent here to essentially tell the citizens to knock it off.
These officials did not travel throughout the western United States. They specifically came to Hood River. Let's not revise history and give blanket dispensation to Hood River's extreme and unusual degree of prejudice and hatred. Let's acknowledge it and give some credit where credit is due. Kessler's book also tells how the only place in the valley people of Japanese descent could buy groceries after the war was McIsaac's Store in Parkdale. I know many years have passed and there have been a succession of owners, but I still feel good when I buy something at McIsaac's.