Sunday, April 09, 2006

Portland JACL gleeful over sliming of beloved Gresham Mayor who's been dead four decades

Just thought I'd share this little blurb from the Portland JACL site. They're pretty happy with themselves....

Go back a few posts and read the entire episode as described though the Portland Oregonian. Even that biased paper admits the only evidence was a couple of newspaper blurbs from the time. Of course the Portland JACL had a crony or two stand up and provide hearsay sliming Gresham's former mayor which the Gresham city council took to heart.

It is my hope there are private figures in the city Gresham who will organize a private fund drive and location for the placement of this memorial to their mayor. The alternative is to allow a bunch of radical ethnic activists slime his repuation for eternity and that would be shameful.

http://www.pdxjacl.org/newsletter/Newsletter.html

Check out this self-serving piece. Talk about preaching to the choir! Actually, it provides some good insight into the minds of these people.


Raising our Voice in Gresham
John Kodachi
April 2006

Someone recently told me, “There are three types of people in the world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who look around and say, ‘What happened?’” I am proud to say that many members of the community, including those from the Portland Chapter and Gresham-Troutdale Chapter of JACL, recently showed that they are the type of people that make things happen.

On Tuesday, March 7, 2006, the Gresham City Council was set to approve a proposed historic monument to honor its former mayor Dr. Herbert H. Hughes, who served as mayor from 1941 to 1956. Over the years, Dr. Hughes contributed to the city’s growth and delivered numerous babies; however, Dr. Hughes was also an unabashed racist. In 1944, he served as a director of “Oregon Anti-Japanese Inc.,” a group that sought to prevent persons of Japanese ancestry from returning to their homes in Gresham after they were released from internment camps. His group also sought to exclude persons of Japanese ancestry from the United States.

Despite his leadership role in “Oregon Anti-Japanese Inc.,” a city advisory committee, assigned to look into Dr. Hughes’s involvement with the group, concluded his participation was “temporary.” Regretfully, the advisory committee neglected to seek any input from local Japanese Americans, which was the very same group that Dr. Hughes had sought to exclude from Gresham. With no other information about Dr. Hughes’s racism, the Gresham City Council was set to approve quickly and quietly the proposed monument as a consent agenda item, which is typically reserved for routine issues that do not warrant public testimony.

However, within hours after learning about the vote on the proposed monument, a groundswell of people gathered that evening at the crowded Gresham City Council meeting, ready to voice their concerns. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, these people included several members of the Portland Chapter, including Rev. Barbara Bellus, Chip Larouche, Setsy Larouche, Connie Masuoka, Nobuko Masuoka, Yoji Matsushima, Judy Murase, Gresham-Troutdale Chapter vice-president Terry Nishikawa, and concerned citizens Scott Murase and Clarence Mershon to name a few.

Additionally, with input from Homer Yasui and Scott Sakamoto earlier in the day, Portland Chapter board members Rich Iwasaki, Susan Leedham, Kirk Tambara, Marleen Ikeda Wong, Gresham-Troutdale Chapter member Setsuko Okino, and others mobilized quickly, sending off a flurry of e-mails and telephone calls to Gresham City Council members requesting that they pull off the proposed monument from the agenda to allow more time to investigate Dr. Hughes’s troubling past.

As a result of the wave of objections flooding into the city council’s office, Gresham Mayor Charles J. Becker announced at the beginning of the council meeting that the proposed monument would be pulled off from the council’s agenda to allow for further investigation of Dr. Hughes.

The objections raised by community members continued to have a ripple effect, sending shockwaves throughout the following days as The Oregonian published several news articles that shed more light on Dr. Hughes’s blatant acts of racism. These disturbing acts came as a surprise to some council members who were unaware of any factual evidence because the report they received had been whitewashed to downplay the former mayor’s discriminatory behavior.

However, with new accounts of Dr. Hughes’s racism surfacing and with a growing chorus of objections, on March 16th, just nine days later, the Gresham City Council issued a press release stating it had decided not to erect the historic monument to Dr. Hughes (see press release).

Given that many within our community received notice of the proposed historic monument in the 11th hour, I was amazed to see how quickly everyone came together, galvanized by the injustice caused by a city honoring a politician who sought to legitimize and incorporate bigotry. Rather than let sleeping dogs lie, many within our community chose to make things happen by speaking up.

Speaking up, as you know, is not always easy, and certainly not always popular. Even after the announcement by the city to scrap the plans for the monument, local residents wrote letters to the editor expressing their anger of how Dr. Hughes is a victim of a “politically correct witch hunt” and expressing their “disgust” that “these Japanese in Gresham are still having a fit about Dr. Hughes.”

Yet, if community members had decided not to make waves, and succumbed to the numbing comfort of simply watching the city council erect the historic monument to Dr. Hughes, we would all be scratching our heads right now, asking one another, “What happened?” Fortunately, however, we are not asking that question. Instead, we raised our voices loudly; we made things happen. And for that, we all should be proud.

(No, John you folks should be ashamed of yourselves. You've done more to create animosity against ethnic Japanese than Pearl Harbor ever did.)

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