Monday, June 1, 2020

And justice for all.

This is the museum at the Manzanar Internment camp.

Years ago, we, three families and children, visited this stark patch of land at the base of the Eastern Sierras. We were there for our annual camping trip and the best campground I've ever laid my overfed, dirty, sweaty body on.

Interestingly enough, I've worked with people of Japanese descent who either have parents who were once interned at Manzanar or have actually spent time in this, another one of America's shameful aberrations.

Having been familiar with camps of a different sort in a different country but at the same time, 1940's, I didn't know what to expect. Particularly since many of the townspeople in the surrounding are of the Fox News watching variety. I suspect the area boasts one of the highest red golf cap owning population per square mile than anywhere else in the country.

Thankfully, the experience was informative and respectful. There was an acknowledgment of the misjudgment, bigotry and the outright violation of Constitutional rights.

In other words, it was 180 degrees from what we experienced when we took another cultural excursion years later.

This time in Louisiana. We were visiting potential colleges for my oldest daughter who had taken a liking towards Tulane. I think my daughter also took a liking to Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.

On our third day, a sober day, in New Orleans, my wife thought it would be a good idea to see one of the locally advertised plantations, where slavery and racial hatred were rooted and still raise their head like a nasty persistent bulb.

It was anodyne in the worst possible way.

The slave quarters, situated near the parking lot, had been gussied up made to look as habitable as a glamping site. Each one, the size of a tool shed, had a table, a chair, and beds. I'm sure if the revisionists had their way they would have hooked up the wifi and the cable TV.

After the cursory 10 minute tour of the slave quarters, "guests" at the plantation are led to Big House and expected to marvel and drool over the stolen majesty of the place, the plush carpets, the European artwork, the floor to ceiling shutter windows and the ornate furniture once occupied by hateful murderous men and the dainty Southern belles that loved them.

We were even treated to a complimentary Virgin Mint Julep. That legendary Southern Hospitality.

As we passed through the gift shop on the way out we were also shown the Plantation Banquet Room, where for a modest fee, local Louisianans could stage a wedding, birthday or Bar Mitzvah celebration. Though I'm sure there were no takers from my tribe.

In short, it was appalling. The contrast couldn't be clearer.

And in light of the crisis that has gripped this nation last week, it amply demonstrates that what troubles America most can be summed up in one word: Melanin.

Because it is painfully obvious that we are failing to live up to the principle that this nation was built on: All men (and women) are created equal.

Not now, not ever.

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