Other factors led to Japanese internmentWith respect to...

LETTERS

December 26, 1996

Other factors led to Japanese internment

With respect to the Dec. 16 letter from Tom Chalkley, "No excuse to intern Japanese Americans," I agree that the internment of Japanese Americans was uncalled for. However, important contributing factors are obscured when emphasizing bare racism and calling legitimate fears ''war hysteria."

German Americans and Italian Americans did not face internment because they made up at least 20 percent of the U.S. population, were integrated throughout the country and had demonstrated their loyalty as part of the U.S. forces fighting Germany in World War I. In contrast, the Japanese Americans and Japanese aliens were a new (and, yes, discriminated against) minority, less than 1 percent of the population and concentrated on the West Coast.

The shock of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, their aggression in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines (then a U.S. territory), plus the perceived threat to the West Coast by an enemy with a history of brutal aggression were sources of legitimate anger and fear.

For more than 10 years prior to the 1942 internment, Japan had invaded Manchuria and China, killed at least 4 million, brutalized many times that number, and destroyed a large portion of China. The knowledge of all these realities certainly fanned anti-Japanese attitudes, which heightened racism and was a major factor in the unfair treatment of Japanese Americans.

It is important to recognize the full scope and effect of Japan's aggression in World War II, as we have with German aggression. This recognition does not excuse the internment. To be fair and prevent future similar occurrences, we need a more complete understanding of the forces that gave rise to those actions, even as we condemn them.

Werner Gruhl

Columbia

Illegal gambling flourishes in Maryland

Doesn't anybody opposed to casinos realize that you can go to just about any bar in Maryland to play video machines that are similar to those in casinos?

They are popping up everywhere: sub shops, gas stations, laundromats, etc. If you happen to win, you are paid cash.

The vendors who own and service these machines usually split the profits with the establishments. And believe me, there are huge profits.

These machines are, of course, illegal. It's awfully funny when they get caught. They pay a fine and go on with business.

I have been in a bar that was caught dozens of times. Once, the police raided and confiscated the machines. I was upset because I really enjoyed gambling there.

I was told by the owner, ''No problem, I'll have new machines in here by tomorrow.'' Next day there were two new poker machines and one lucky bar machine.

This kind of gambling has been going on in Maryland for at least 18 years that I know of. You can't tell me that law enforcement officials and politicians are not aware of this racket.

If casinos were legal, the state of Maryland would be reaping these millions. Instead, the money is spread out to organized crime.

People who enjoy gambling are going to gamble, illegally or not.

Let me see, millions for the state or millions for organized crime? Not hard to answer for a concerned, honest politician, if there are any left.

Steven Bryant

Baltimore

Drugs need treatment and prosecution

The juxtaposition Dec. 19 of Michael Olesker's piece on Sgt. Stephen R. Pagotto's conviction and the story on the closing of Walbrook Hardware, if not intentional, was certainly compelling.

How can we lament the economic consequences of drug dealing on the one hand, and allow the very purveyors of the trade more leeway on the other?

Over the past several weeks, The Sun has carried several editorials contrasting the drug legalization position with the hard-line approach. But must society choose between two polar alternatives?

Why not treat the disease and prosecute the crime? The economic savings of drug abuse treatment can offset its own cost.

And by combining treatment provided within the confines of prison walls with stricter supervision of probationers in diversion programs, we may be able to expand treatment and reduce the pressures on prison space.

As long as we continue to think in terms of ''either, or'' alternatives, we pit liberal philosophy against conservative pragmatism.

Drug dealers should be held accountable for the destructive effects of their crime, and it seems reasonable to offer assistance to people who want help. Isn't it time we started finding the means of doing both?

Tony Tommasello

Baltimore

The writer is director of substance abuse studies at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

Pagotto's conviction is sad day for city

The manslaughter conviction of Baltimore police Sgt. Stephen R. Pagotto marks a sad day for Baltimore City. Sergeant Pagotto was prosecuted and convicted for protecting the citizens of Baltimore in the best manner that he could within a community and political system that is hostile toward law enforcement.

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