Monday, December 3, 2012

More Research: refracting race, conflict in Japanese interment camps, the Imperial Russian Dental Corps, dentist testing at Walla Walla penitentiary

The fruits of research are so rich and so strange. And thank heavens for the Internet and the kindness of librarians. I can't afford the research materials I want, but the internet has been a gift from heaven, with librarians at the Seattle Library and at our local synagogue the angels within it.

I have learned that at several Japanese internment camps, there was not just conflict between kibei (First generation Japanese-Americans educated in Japan) and Nisei, (First generation Japanese-Americans educated in the U.S.) but this tension was some of the cause of violence, riots, and one family (that of the husband of the fabulous singer, Pat Suzuki) literally being pushed outside the boundaries of their camp after the father was beaten.

I have learned that the Czar had an Imperial Dental Corps in WWI--I think, but I'm not sure--and that other armies in WWI had their own dental corps, with wagons, uniforms, equipment, etc. Well, but of course. Remember the origin of the phrase trench mouth?

Also, that dentists in the Seattle Area in 1927 took their licensing tests at Walla Walla penitentiary, by special permission of the Warden.

And if you ever wonder if one person can make a huge difference in the world: the reason that Japan did not actively support the extermination of the Jews was because of one German-American Jew, a financier in New York who hated what the Czar was doing to the Jews in Russia during the pogroms of that era (back to that Czar again, the handsome one who was later murdered) and so this one guy helped to substantially finance the Japanese during the Russian-Japanese war (1904-1905). This one man's choice many years before meant that the Japanese a) could not be persuaded that Jews were evil incarnate who should be exterminated like rats and b) that although they now believed that all Jews had money and were powerful and pulled the strings of the world behind the scenes, these were qualities the Japanese wanted to emulate.

(I wish me and mine had some of the money and power Jews are supposed to have. . .I know I'd change a few things in the world, or even this country, like our growing child poverty rate.)

What I find most fascinating about all this research is the way that it Asian, or Black, or Jewish "racial" identity--seems, like a light through a crystal, to splinter into facets when you look at them carefully through an historical lens. Yes, dental exams at Walla Walla pen are fun, as are Jazz bands at Manazanar, but this perspective is to me, the most important thing.

Next post--about the Jewish concept of good and evil. Now that's really fun. 
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