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A BOOK-BANNING DODGED–THANK YOU!

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By thisistwitchy  •  May 7, 2005 11:36 AM

A few weeks ago, UNC law professor Eric Muller–the chief critic of my latest book whom I debated several times on the radio and engaged extensively (see below)–called on his blog readers to get my book banned –yes, banned–from the shelves at the Manzanar relocation center.

The staff at Manzanar received nearly 200 letters, weighed both sides, and here is the verdict: (Hat tip: Xrlq and many other readers.)

Thank you very much for expressing your opinion about the presence of Michelle Malkin’s In Defense of Internment in our Manzanar History
Association (MHA) bookstore at Manzanar National Historic Site.

Our decision to carry the book last fall followed extensive review and
consultation with historians, academics, former internees, and others. The
consensus was that, while none substantially agreed with Ms. Malkin’s
conclusions or scholarship, it is not the role of the National Park Service
to censor dissenting viewpoints, past or present. As one prominent academic
stated, “providing only one perspective is not education, it is propaganda.
There are not many books written with this general perspective, and it’s
important to include dissenting views.”

The National Park Service’s approach to telling the stories of Manzanar is
to invite visitors to experience the site and leave with memories and
emotions fueled by their own inherent values. The goal is to increase
visitors’ knowledge level without dictating their conclusions. To that end,
Manzanar History Association and National Park Service staff work closely
to identify and review titles for the store. As of May 2005, there are 749
items in MHA’s inventory, including more than 300 books. Both of our
organizations recognize the sensitivity necessary for any book selection on
a topic as important and emotional as the World War II experiences of
Japanese Americans and others.

In the end, we chose to carry In Defense of Internment for a number of
reasons, including:

Manzanar was designated a national park unit to preserve and interpret the history of the loss of civil rights by Japanese Americans during World War II. We believe that not carrying this book could ironically be viewed as denying the First Amendment rights to free speech.

We believe that it is useful to present various perspectives when reasonable. We do not actively seek materials counter to the majority opinion or materials that are innately controversial, but wish to consider books garnering national attention, as well as books recommended by visitors or others.

We feel we have an obligation to share the unique history of the site in such a way that creates context, encourages open dialogue, and fosters commitment to keep the story alive. Presenting a variety of viewpoints, when appropriate, is essential to this process.

We do not feel that by including Michelle Malkin’s book, or any others, we are inferring National Park Service endorsement of the author’s perspective and/or opinions.

In the past few weeks, we have received nearly 200 messages on this topic.
We have read every one and are grateful for your willingness to share your
concerns and comments. Your perspective is part of an important dialog that
will help all of us to come to a greater understanding of our history and
our hopes.

On behalf of the National Park Service and Manzanar History Association,
Thank You.

Sincerely, Alisa
Alisa Lynch
Chief of Interpretation
Manzanar National Historic Site

Deepest, deepest thanks to all those who wrote, called, and blogged to keep the book on the shelves. Appreciate your support, activism, and interest in the book very much. And kudos to the staff members at Manzanar for their integrity and fairness–qualities with which Professor Muller and the rest of the unhinged academics on his embarrassing “Historians’ Committee for Fairness” seem curiously unacquainted.

***
Background (my detailed responses to Muller and his co-critic, Greg Robinson):

In Defense of Internment
Book notes
Book notes II
Arguing in bad faith
Book buzz
The end of a reasoned debate

More background (in which, in the spirit of good-faith academic debate, I repeatedly referred readers to Muller’s blog and arguments; promoted radio appearances with him while on my book tour; requested and engaged in an impromptu debate about the book with Robinson after he weirdly showed up at one of my college speaking events on a totally different topic; and plugged yet another radio debate with Muller in February):

Seattle after-action report
Forgotten internees of WWII
Book buzz
Where in the world
Radio debate
Where in the world
Robinson’s deceit
Where in the world

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