R.I.P. Gordon Hiyabayashi

The following is a small essay posted at the Angry Asian Man blogsite through Racialicious about the recent passing of a activist Gordon Hiyabayashi (1918 – 2012) who fought against the unlawful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Here is a summary of the landmark case found at the Seattle University School of Law’s website

“During World War II, Gordon Hirabayashi was a 24-year-old senior at the University of Washington – an American citizen by birth – when, as acts of civil disobedience, he defied a curfew imposed on persons of Japanese ancestry and refused to comply with military orders forcing Japanese Americans to leave the West Coast into concentration camps.  He appealed his convictions to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in one of the most infamous cases in American history, held that the curfew order was justified by military necessity and was, therefore, constitutional.  A year and a half later, in Korematsu v. United States, the Court relied wholly on its decision in Hirabayashi to uphold the constitutionality of the mass removal of Japanese Americans.

Forty years later, in 1983, represented by a remarkable and dedicated team of lawyers, Mr. Hirabayashi reopened his case, filing a petition for writ of error coram nobis in Seattle, Washington, seeking vacation of his wartime convictions on the ground that the government, during World War II, had suppressed, altered, and destroyed material evidence relevant to the issue of military necessity.  In 1986, the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Mary Schroeder, vacated both Mr. Hirabayashi’s curfew and exclusion convictions on proof of the allegations of governmental misconduct.”

Hirabayashi v. United States, 828 F.2d 591 (9th Cir. 1987).”

In response to this sad moment in history I will say that Hiyabayashi was a true warrior against the oppressive American establishment. His courage against the government imposted sanction against Japanese Americans during the worst war in human history (thus far) is truly honorable. It symbolizes great bravery against injustice masked as patriotism. Hiyabayashi will always be remembered as a noble freedom fighter. Rest in peace.

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6 thoughts on “R.I.P. Gordon Hiyabayashi

  1. I never knew the story behind the decision. Oh, to take a REAL history course instead of the White-story we’re taught, huh? I despair of how U.S. children will ever come to realize what is happening here without learning first what HAS happened. This is just one more thing the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense understood when they created their Ten Point Plan to include a revitalized educational process for all students in America, but most particularly (at least) those of color.

  2. Truly a heroic, noble figure was this man. I had a few friends, growing up, whose parents had suffered the same injustice of internment, solely for being of Japanese descent. They and I would have many long talks about the vilification of various groups in this country, and how shameful it was that it had to be that way.

  3. I appreciate his warrior spirit, that would continue the fight 40 years later, and ramp it up! I admire his spirit.
    I suppose I should feel vindication when these cases are properly settled 40 and 50 years later. The victory is bittersweet, more bitter than sweet to me.

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