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The Answered Question

September 29, 1996

Lynn Simross' review of "Whispered Silences" (Book Review, Aug. 11) was insulting to a generation of Americans. "Infamous" applies to dastardly deeds, such as Pearl Harbor or the Holocaust. It does not apply to a decision made by one of our finest presidents to eliminate the possibility of defeat. On Page 1 of the Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1943, there's a story about 3,600 American-born internment camp prisoners who were asked the question, "Will you swear allegiance to the United States and forswear allegiance to the emperor of Japan?" Four hundred and fifty nisei answered "No." That's one-eighth of them.

That's why they were interned. Not because they were all potential traitors, but because enough would cause problems if the war was brought to the West Coast. If Simross were around in 1942, would she have had the crystal-clear insight to inform FDR about where the war would be fought, when it would end and who would win it? No, but she has no problem sitting comfortably at the word processor and shaming the people we should be thanking. The implication that using dogs to tell the races apart was stupid sounds condescending at best and the comment, "even a dog knew better," is downright racist.

STEVEN FOSTER, LOS ANGELES

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