Sunday, September 11, 2016

Courtesy and Kindness

     In the 1930s, the California resort at Byron Hot Springs drew legendary Hollywood stars like Clark Gable and Mae West. After the USA entered World War 2, however, the resort hotel and spa became "Camp Tracy."
     American interrogators welcomed Japanese Prisoners of War to the California spa and offered meals prepared by Japanese chefs.
     US Army Major Alexander Corbin researched the interrogations at Byron Hot Springs.  As reported by Brentwood, California newspaper The Press, Corbin told a crowd gathered at the remnants of the resort hotel in 2010, "Courtesy and kindness overcame the most reticent prisoner."
     Alex Corbin wrote the book, The History of Camp Tracy: Japanese WWII POWs and the Future of Interrogation.
     During the course of World War II, the forces of the Empire of Japan became notorious for religious extremism and gruesome decapitations.  Near the end of the war, Japan even employed kamikaze suicidal pilots.  The cruelty of an indoctrinated enemy, however, was no excuse for unkindness to prisoners. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fortune of War

   George Washington repeatedly referred to Prisoners of War (POWs) as people whom "the fortune of War" had thrown into their enemy's hands.  Captivity was not a moral judgment on the prisoners.
   In a March 1777 letter to British military commander Sir William Howe, for instance, Washington wrote of "my wish that every reasonable indulgence and act of Humanity should be done to those whom the fortune of War has or may put into our hands."
   Unfortunately, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump spoke of military captivity as a mark of failure in a soldier, sailor or airman.  Especially unfortunate is the fact that Trump's remarks came at the expense of Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona).
   Born in 1936, McCain represents a generation of Americans with a marked aversion to torture.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

All Nations & Religions

   George Washington repeatedly spoke of the United States of America as a home for "all Nations & Religions."
   George Washington's idea of America included Jews and Muslims.

Monday, March 16, 2015

St Patrick's Day

     The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association honors Saint Patrick's Day by posting George Washington's General Orders of March 16, 1780, giving the Continental Army the day off March 17.  Referring to himself in the third person as he customarily did, General Washington wrote,

     The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of 
Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated; not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America.  

     The actions of the Irish Parliament prompted many Americans to hope that Ireland's independence was imminent.  On February 24, 1780, Philadelphia newspaper The Pennsylvania Packet published a November 17, 1779 letter from an unnamed crewman or officer from L'Orient, a ship commanded by John Paul Jones.  The writer exulted, "The Parliament of Ireland have acted with a degree of spirit, that surprizes every body.  On their meeting, instead of echoing back the Lord Lieutenant's speech, as is usual, they in their address to the King, demanded a free trade in every respect; and if this is refused them, there is no doubt but that they will declare themselves independent."
     During the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Britain detained some captured American sailors in Ireland.  In December 1783, Washington assured an association of Irish immigrants that "the Hospitality and Beneficence of your Countrymen, to our Brethren who have been Prisoners of War, are neither unknown, or unregarded."
     Washington's letter is available online courtesy of PBS.  Read about the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association at their website, mountvernon,org.  For background on the office of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the British monarch's representative in the Kingdom of Ireland and the executive authority there, please read the entry at Wikipedia.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Infamous Decapitators Treated Kindly

During China's War Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), China's part in World War Two (1939-1945), Japanese soldiers became notorious for beheading helpless victims.

For the Allies, Japan's brutality was not an excuse to abuse Japanese Prisoners of War.

US interrogators hosted Japanese prisoners at "Camp Tracy," actually a luxury resort hotel at California's Byron Hot Springs.  US interrogators treated Japanese prisoners kindly, providing them meals cooked by Asian chefs and spa baths.

In 2010, former interrogator Al Nipkow told The San Francisco Chronicle that "as far as brutalizing anyone--there wasn't any question about that.  It wasn't allowed."

Please check Kevin Fagan, "Army official touts WWII's nisei interrogators," The San Francisco Chronicle, 24 January 2010, [accessed 12 December 2014].   The treatment of Japanese prisoners by Chinese guerrillas is mentioned in the second section of this post, "Treating Enemy Wounded."