Ansel Adams at the Skirball

skirball-exhibition-overview-ansel-adamsI went to that Skirball museum to see Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams.   Could not be a more fitting time for this show.  As we sit in our living rooms watching the pictures of people pouring out of Syria or the hungry people trapped inside Syria wondering about each countries quasi-open arms to the immigrants and another countries shutting of their doors.

Ansel Adams documented the incarceration camp in Manzanar California from 1942 – 1946.  He protested the treatment of the American-Japanese citizens in their own country.  A forced exodus.  A piece of history that had been pushed under the rug until Jimmy Carter put together a commission to see if as a countries actions were justifiable.  They concluded that the internment was a product of racism and the government should pay for the retribution forced upon all of the people in the camps.   Ronald Reagan issued authorized $20K per person when he was in office putting out more than $1.6billion.

This past week Israel published a letter from  1962 by the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann pleading for clemency two days before he was hung.  His claim that he was merely following orders.  War is complicated.

I kept thinking about the Holocaust walking through the Skirball looking at the pictures of the camps.  We took people from their homes who did nothing.  We at least let them bring parts of their lives, fed them, created jobs, taught the kids school and essentially built a city over four years vs starving and torturing people to death or putting them in the gas chamber.  Regardless, it is a disturbing piece of history.  It was during WWII, a scary time.  People (and governments) made many mistakes.  History has proven that.

What is the rest of the world’s responsibility for saving people caught in the crossfires of war and conflict?  My ancestors survived WWII because of the kindness of others.  Are we just watching history repeat itself when we talk about rounding up muslims or taking in as few refugees as possible?  I think we might be.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Hate and fear are both the most blatent and ambiguous of emotions.I’ve read a bit by Holocaust survivors and can’t get my head around their ability to feel the subtleties in the blatent realities of what they lived through.Touching and confronting these ambiguities and difficulties is what makes a culture great.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It took me a few days to wrap my head around the exhibit.

  2. pointsnfigures

    I am on the Board of Trustees of the in New Orleans. I encourage everyone to go there and visit.We present the war, with all its iconoclasts in a pure unvarnished way that is dedicated to remembering our history, and bringing it to the present so people can critically think about it and form their own opinion. I have a lot of favorite exhibits, but one that I particularly love is one called, “What Would You Do?” Here is a teacher lesson plan about it: http://www.nationalww2museu…Looking in the rear view of history, it’s easy to see our mistakes. Internment was clearly a huge mistake. The museum presents that history from all angles. People inside the Roosevelt administration thought there was a threat.Senator Daniel Inouye was a big backer of the museum. Before he passed away, he taped an oral history, but we use him in our exhibit. He talks about how he was in Hawaii, and experienced Pearl Harbor. He knew of the incarceration of people on the mainland simply because they were Japanese. He was Japanese, and puts forward the question of: If you were 18yrs old, and you were incarcerated but were given the chance to fight for “your” country, would you do it?Thousands of Japanese-Americans made the choice to fight for their country in spite of its racism. They fought valiantly in Italy and were one of the most decorated units in the entire Army. Inouye received the Medal of Honor later in his life after military records were revisited-since many records were suppressed from 1940-1990 because of racism.Of course, African Americans also confronted racism and served heroically, when given the opportunity. The stories that come out of the war continue to amaze me, and touch me.It’s a fascinating conundrum. German-Jews that were murdered by Hitler served heroically in WW1 fighting for Germany (their country). They mistakenly thought Hitler would spare them because they were war heroes.

    1. Gotham Gal

      My guess is we will all continue to make mistakes. Very cool that you are involved with this museum.

      1. pointsnfigures

        You are right, we are guaranteed to make mistakes! As long as they aren’t based on faulty framing I guess it’s okay. I read a book on the battle through Italy and I really lost respect for Mark Clark as a general. His strategy slaughtered thousands of lives needlessly.I go for the history, stay for the food, art and music in NOLA! You should make a trip down. The oysters are so good…..with a little funky music. : )

        1. Gotham Gal

          I have spent a lot of time in NO

  3. jason wright

    once your country’s election is over the rhetoric about muslims will hopefully fade away. war powers may be different, but a nation at peace with itself is not at war with its own Europe the debate about immigration centres on the distinction between refugee/ asylum seeker on the one hand, and economic migrant on the other, coupled with a total head count. how many newcomers can a continent absorb and at what rate?

    1. Gotham Gal

      It is hard to absorb the newcomers but how can we not?

      1. Matt Kruza

        Well one thing to consider is money used to absorb immigrants probably helps 5-20x more in their home country. One statistic put out (and obviously impossible to fullly measure but probably directionally correct) is for each syrian immigrant all-in cost is $63k. That would be the entire GDP per capita of 15 or more syrian’s. Obviously ending / helping end the war is critical for that to work, but the same amount of dollars goes MASSIVELY further in third world countries. Many who don’t want many non-talented / non-educated immigrants aren’t likely to support foreign aid, but they are wrong on that. Lets fix the problem at the source and effectively use our foreign aid. That is a real strategy… and that is how we can not while actually BEING BETTER huminatarians, but not getting to seem like a good liberal do-gooder that is really at the heart of many on the american left (not saying you, I do not know, but for many it is the vanity of being a do gooder that seems to matter most)

      2. jason wright

        Europe is not a ‘melting pot’ continent. it is a densely populated patchwork quilt. it can take its proportionate share of those truly in need. countries with wide open spaces need to do the the source is where the solution needs to be found, and the west needs to modify its geo economic policies going forward.You have a success story in your neighbourhood;http://www.femtechleaders.c

        1. Gotham Gal


  4. JLM

    .The day after Pearl Harbor America was scared witless. The entire fleet — save our aircraft carriers — was at the bottom the harbor and we did not know where the Japanese attackers were or headed.FDR was a Navy man and understood for the first time the ability of a carrier fleet to project force over the horizon making the Pacific and Atlantic useless as the historic barriers they had always been.By then, he had knowledge of the Japanese incursion — decades long — into China, the German attacks, and the use of the Fifth Column by the Germans.His actions were perfectly reasonable given the threat of invasion — as he perceived it.Decades later, Ronald Reagan saw it differently and compensated the Japanese-Americans for their mistreatment.Both men were right given the circumstances as they saw them.We owe the issue of Syrian refugees our best thinking starting with a challenge to the incredibly wealthy neighboring nations and their unwillingness to open their borders and hearts to these refugees. America should be about #12 on the list rather than being shamed into being at the top of the list.The issue of from whence these refugees have come merits more thought. They are the product of failed, incompetent foreign policy which lurches toward regime change one day, then threatens “red line” consequences the next while ignoring our own red lines the next.We have allowed the Russians back into the Middle East after having engineered their removal on the heels of the 1973 Yom Kippur War whereafter Henry Kissinger pried Egypt from the Russian orbit which began 40 years of peace on that Israeli border but more importantly thwarted Russian long term lust for a toehold in the center of oil and warm water ports.Now, we have created an insane alliance amongst Russia, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. We did this. This administration did this and we fostered and fathered ISIS in the process. Incompetence and feckless policies have consequences. In this instance, they create a tsunami of refugees.Know this — Russian backed Assad will prevail thereby creating a dynasty of evil deeply rooted and unable to be uprooted. It didn’t have to end this way and we could have cleaned this mess up with better policies.As to Muslims, we are content to be stupid and politically stupid to boot. Nobody is really suggesting that all Muslims be banned from immigrating to the US — Trump was the first voice in suggesting that our immigration vetting process is incompetent — surprise — and that we need to take a break and fix it.If we cannot debate truthfully, then we are doomed to extremist solutions fashioned by those with loudest voices and the most power.No reasonable person can suggest that there is not a desperately needed improvement in our vetting of immigrants. Look only to the San Bernandino villains, who were both Muslims.We need to be honest in this and stop pretending to hear “Muslim” when it is really RIT — radical islamic terrorists.The defense of “following orders” is and has always been absurd. It is the first and last refuge of cowards. As an army officer, I was trained to “obey the lawful orders of those appointed above you.”Not every order but only the “lawful” orders.On three separate occasions, I refused to comply with orders and suffered the consequences. One was a total non-starter. One was quite interesting as it involved financial impropriety. One was quite serious and could have cost me my short lived career.In every instance, I stood my ground and was exonerated. The last instance I may not have been totally exonerated but I was not disciplined, refused to recant my decision, and made a few friends along the way.This was the way I was trained at VMI and in the Army. Each officer is responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen with all of his men and his unit. It was a topic of much discussion at the basic course, the advanced course, Command & General Staff College, and the faculty at West Point.Lt Calley’s actions in Viet Nam provided an abject lesson of what happens when men follow unlawful orders.The army is so much better than this.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…