I find the hysterical tone of letters in The Times (April 7) regarding the U.S.-Japanese trade deficit very disturbing. A few excitable Americans seem ready to fight another Pacific war, whether it be real or imaginary. Dredged up key words like "Pearl Harbor," "sneak attack," and "stab in the back" cannot fail to stir the patriotism of our country--and revive past hatreds and prejudice.
The letter writers are not entirely responsible for their actions. They are merely echoing the anti-Japanese rhetoric of their representatives in Washington. Congressmen love to espouse protectionism and trade retaliation; it gives them some quick and cheap popularity points without offending a significant ethnic voting group of their constituents.
One major problem of this new mobilization of nationalistic fervor against a suspected U.S. foe is that it requires immediate, and often irrational outlets. Some frustrated American may decide to express his patriotism with hostile actions toward fellow Americans--of Asian descent. Bigotry may become fashionable again.
How long will it be before we return to a World War II mentality of prejudice and discrimination? Will shop owners again put "No Japs Allowed" signs in their windows? Will we again incarcerate any U.S. citizen of Japanese descent in desolate relocation camps (Perhaps this time for fear of sabotaging a GM plant instead of an airfield)?