The Race of War
The Race of War
This chapter considers the impact of war on the labor movement. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, conservative whites became furiously suspicious that the saloons, taverns, and bars run by those of Japanese origin “knew in advance of the sneak attack” and joined in. Some whites believed that “Japanese plantation workers had defected and fired on American soldiers.” These concerns reflect a guilty fear that the apartheid that had been visited upon those of Japanese origin in particular had backfired. The Pacific War, which ensnared an archipelago with a plurality of residents of Japanese origin, unleashed in response a bitter fusillade of invective against this very same population, which also happened to be heavily represented in the radical and trade union movements then growing. Though the nternational Longshore and Warehousemen's Union generally stood tall against attempts to exact special penalties at the expense of the besieged population of Japanese origin, it is nevertheless likely that the rise in the union leadership of figures like Jack Hall and Robert McElrath was facilitated by their being of non-Japanese origin, amounting to a perverse form of affirmative action. In other words, since Americans of Japanese ancestry were being besieged, it became easier for whites to surge to the leadership of the labor movement.
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