A Different Angle on WWII Japanese Internment
olihist | Honolulu, HI | 02/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II resonates today in more ways than one. Having read and viewed other material on Japanese-American internment, I found this film's slightly different emphasis on Arkansas refreshing. Arkansas, like many States in the American South, rigidly enforced segregation policies designed to keep blacks and whites separate. The arrival of 12,000 Japanese in Southeast Arkansas during WWII threw into question not only conceptions of what it meant to be American but what it meant to be white or black.
Among the more memorable parts of this documentary was the tensions surrounding Mainland and Hawaiian Japanese Americans in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team ("Go For Broke"). When fighting over cultural differences threatens the integrity of the unit, a group of 442nd men (including U.S. Senator Dan Inouye) are sent to the Arkansas camps to witness the conditions (barracks, barb wire, and maching gun posts) that the mainland Japanese Americans enlisted under. It was the sight of fellow Japanese-Americans behind barb wire, more than anything, that really motivated the 442nd to overcome their differences and prove their American loyalty in battle.
Aside from the Arkansas experience and the Hawai'i-Mainland Japanese differences, there's not a whole lot of new material covered here. "Time of Fear" is nonetheless memorable, if only because it throws a refreshingly different angle on the subject of Japanese American Internment.
I'd recommend this for any high school or college class studying Asian Americans, World War II, and/or Race in American History."
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 10/14/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Let me start with what was new and unexpected. Unlike other works on this tragic topic, this focused specifically on one state's Japanese-American concentration camps: that of Arkansas. This film did not limit itself to the white-yellow binary: it covered the role of African Americans on this topic. I almost screamed when I learned that the Arkansas governor said, "We can't let the Japanese come to our colleges, because then we'd have to let the blacks do the same." (Luckily, I don't punch TV screens!) Finally, this film mentions that at times locals accused Japanese Americans of being unfairly advantaged in the camps!
Outside of that, this was pretty much the standard work on American internment. For those who do not know about this dark era, it will be informative; for those who do know, this will be standard fair. It was amusing to see a Caucasian academic with an accent just like Bill Clinton's. This documentary interviews both Japanese-American men and women. You would think celebrities would appear first, but George Takei does not show up until the end of the work. Takei's presence may be a reason for trekkies of any ethnic background to see the work.
I think this PBS American Experience series would be sorely lacking if it didn't cover this matter. Still, other episodes opened my eyes to things I never ever knew. This one did not. It would be good viewing materials for high school and junior high American history classes, especially those with large Japanese-American student bodies."