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Reparations: The Meaning of 'Racism'

August 06, 1995

Letter writer Steven Foster (Westside, July 13) complains about Japanese American reparations, saying: "If I were them, I'd forgive and forget the unfortunate decisions made during the war."

Well, if Foster were "them," he would have lived in horse stalls for months while the concentration camps were finished. He would have spent years behind barbed wire with guard towers and guns pointed at him if he got too close to the fence. If Foster were them, he would have learned that the U.S. Constitution didn't apply to him because of the color of his skin and the shape of his eyes. If Foster were them, he might have had to endure seeing his elderly grandparents, or his little children, or his lovely new bride forced into incarceration. He would be absolutely helpless because he'd be one of them.

If Foster were them, he would have learned that his U.S. citizenship meant nothing if his parents or his grandparents came from the wrong country. On the other hand, if Foster were them, he might really understand what racism means and not call the victims of this kind of government action "racists."

KEN NARASAKI, Santa Monica

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