Merging My New Year’s Resolutions with My “To Do” List

I know people have differing views of the value of New Year’s Resolutions, but I always do them. They give me a moment to reflect on the previous year’s aspirations, successes, and failures, and to articulate some new (or, often, continuing) aspirations for the coming year.

One problem, though, is that I don’t often revisit my resolutions. They are the front page on my bullet journal, but I only occasionally remember to look at that page through the year.

So, when I saw an advertisement for Personalized Paper Manufacturing Group, I got an idea. I could make custom “To Do” list notepads that begin with some of my New Year’s Resolutions, then have extra lines for me to write in other things I need to do that day.

I bought 8 pads with 50 sheets each for $32 including shipping. At $4 per pad that is more expensive than using scrap paper, but less expensive than some of the fine stationary to do list pads I like to use.

I am big into to do lists, so I’m excited to see if this tool will help me do better with my resolutions for 2018.

Battling the Cell Phone Menace in Class for a Decade Now

Facebook’s wayback machine (“On this Day” app) reminded me this morning that I have been battling students using their cell phones in class for a long time now.

I know some professors don’t care if students use their phones in class. Fine by me; their class, their rules. And some are just unaware. Many Wake Forest students, including my now graduated son Paul, text me from their classes. But I find it distracting. So, I have tried to dissuade students from using their phones in class for some time.

I put a special note in my syllabus, highlighted in red(dish) so it cannot be missed (above). And I make clear in the grading rubric for class participation the penalty for using phones in class.

And still students use their phones in class, and then complain to me at the end of class when I penalize them for doing so. (Among other things they complain about with respect to their class participation grades.)

So this year I’ve decided to try to triple reinforce my expectations by having students sign and initial that they have read and understand the class expectations. We’ll see what difference it makes.

Verizon Wireless’s Fool-Proof Plan for Losing a Customer

Final Update: Somehow “Brandon” in the corporate office got my blog post yesterday. He apologized on behalf of Verizon and said he would call financial services on my behalf to get me taken off “cash only” status. Thus resolves my 2 month issue. As compensation for my trouble, Verizon waived the remaining $240 I owed on my account.

Original Post with Updates

I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for as long as I have had a cell phone, which is around 2004 IIRC. Never missed a payment, always upgrade my phone, currently have 6 lines on my account. I’ve generally had good customer service, but a recent experience with getting new phones for myself and my wife has definitely spoiled me on the company.

I am not the only person who has blogged about this. See the source of this graphic, Peter Kreutzer’s The Spectacular Awfulness of Verizon Customer Service at


The Short Version

The long version of the story, with supporting documents, is below. The short version of the story is that in April on release day my wife and I each bought Samsung Galaxy S8 phones to replace our old Note 4s. When they arrived on 4/21, we immediately realized that the screen was too small. Taking advantage of the “Try it worry-free with our 30-Day Return Policy” (see screen cap below), we decided to exchange our S8s for the larger S8+.

Screen cap of Verizon web page, April 24, 2017

Because we bought the phones on-line and were on the road when we wanted to process the exchange, we were not able to just walk into a Verizon store and exchange the phones. (For future reference: Do this.) I sought advice from Verizon chat who advised me to call customer care to help me exchange the phones.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

No problem. Received the new phones, packaged up the unwanted phones using return address labels provided by Verizon. Shipped those May 1st and received emails from Verizon confirming they were received on May 10th and 11th.

By May 30th I had not received a refund so I chatted with and called Verizon customer service again. After half an hour on the phone, the CS rep acknowledged Verizon mistake and said he would put in for the refund. Three weeks later on June 21st, still no refund so I call Verizon customer service again. This time I am almost 2 hours on the phone with 2 different people but “Katie” assures me that she is going to handle the situation.

When Katie did not follow through on her promise six days later, I contested the charges with American Express who on June 29th credited me back the $1,224 plus interest. Verizon promptly charged the $1,224 back to my Verizon account. On July 1st, after receiving a threatening text message from Verizon, so during my vacation while in the middle of the desert in Arizona I called Verizon. After over an hour on the phone, this time “Judy” assured me that the credit would be applied that day (though it would take 5 days to process).

Again thinking the situation was resolved I was surprised to receive yet another threatening text message today and to find that my Verizon account STILL had a $1,224 past due balance. Another hour on the phone with Verizon customer service and this time “Ken” assured me he was going to take care of it.

While on hold with Ken, I started chatting with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter. In the time that it took Ken to promise that he would try to get the credit, the Twitter CS people actually applied a credit to my account today, clearing the past due balance.

Which raises the question, Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And, furthermore, What compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closed our chat, an automated message popped up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding because of it.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, but before I published it, “Andrea” from Verizon social media customer service contacted me, in response to the negative response I gave to the “How are we doing?” survey at the end of my chat with @VZWSupport. She expressed concern about my poor experience and wanted to let me know that Verizon was very sorry. She noted that I asked what compensation I would receive for all of the time, energy, and worry I put into getting the situation resolved. She asked if I would be willing to accept an account credit of $110 — the portion of the $350 I pay monthly to Verizon that covers my unlimited data plan — as compensation. I accepted the account credit, but also let her know that the experience seriously damaged my relationship with Verizon and that I would be exploring my wireless options going forward.

UPDATE 2: Since I spoke with Andrea I went on line to try to schedule a payment for my regular balance due minus the $110 credit Andrea arranged. I find the “alert” below: Not eligible to make online payments. Must pay in cash at Verizon store or mail money order or certified check. LOLOLOLOL. Spent 6 weeks trying to get money back from Verizon now trying to pay my bill and denied. Can’t win.

UPDATE 3: According to @VZWSupport (on Twitter), because I have been put on a cash only basis due to Verizon trying to screw me out of $1,224 for phones I returned in May, *I* have to take *MY* time out to call Financial Services. The nightmare continues.

The Long Version (With Documentation)

4/20/17: Ordered Samsung Galaxy S8 phones from website

4/21/17: Phones delivered to Half Moon Bay, California

4/24/17: Decided S8 phones too small, wanted to exchange for S8+. Chatted with Verizon customer service, then called customer service as advised by chat agent.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

4/24/17: Ordered new phones and requested they be delivered to Verizon store in Rome, Georgia where we were traveling.

4/28/17: Picked up Galaxy S8+ phone from Verizon store, activated them, and put S8 phones into same boxes and returned using return address labels provided by Verizon.

5/1/17: Mailed S8 phones back to Verizon (confirmed by email below).

5/10/17: 9 days later, the first of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it was not credited.

5/11/17: 10 days later, the second of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it too was not credited.

So at this point in the story, I have two charges for $612 on my American Express card for phones I returned to Verizon as instructed by Verizon, and which Verizon received back into inventory.

5/30/17: A month after mailing the S8 phones back to Verizon, and over two weeks after Verizon acknowledged receiving the phones, I still had not received a credit to my credit card (or to my Verizon account). So, I entered into another chat with Verizon customer service (screen cap below).

Again the chat agent could not help me and advised I call the Financial Team, which I did.

5/30/17: Spoke to Verizon Customer Service representative on phone for half an hour, explaining what happened. At end of phone conversation he said it was clearly a mistake to follow the advice given to me to pay off the phone and then return it, but that because I was given bad advice by Verizon, the request that he was filing advising I be refunded $1,224 would be no problem.

6/21/17: Three weeks later, still no refund to my credit card or my Verizon account (despite the fact that the charge is on my American Express card accruing interest at 16% APR). I call Verizon Customer Service again. I explain the situation to another representative, who does a partial investigation and then suggests that I might be able to get the $1,224 credited to my Verizon account, which I could then use to pay my wireless bill over the next 3 months. I flatly rejected this suggestion, since it would mean basically loaning money that Verizon owed me back to Verizon. At this point she puts me on hold to connect me to a supervisor. After nearly an hour on the phone, my call is disconnected.

As is evident in the screen cap above, I call back immediately and this time ask to be immediately escalated to the next level of customer service. I am connected with Katie. I explain to Katie everything that happened with my first two phone calls, and that I would not accept anything other than a credit back to my American Express. Katie says that the notes the CS rep put in the system on 5/30 were not clear and so I walk her again step by step through the problem. Katie assures me that she will see my problem through to its conclusion and will continue to stay in touch with me until it is resolved. After nearly an hour on the phone (102 minutes total for 6/21/17), Katie says that the fault was Verizon’s and that she would be able to file a request for a refund that would be processed.

I receive an email confirmation that the payment is being investigated (below) and I also speak again with Katie later that day for another 7 minutes so she can confirm my credit card information so that she can make sure the right account gets credited (above).

Before the end of our first phone conversation, I tell Katie that I either would have a refund to my credit card by the end of the week or I would be contesting the charges with American Express.

6/23/17: Over six weeks since Verizon received the second of the two S8 phones I returned, I get a text message from Katie two days after our phone conversation informing me that she is still working on the refund.

6/27/17: The following Tuesday — 6 days after I spoke with Katie who said she would resolve my problem — I finally disputed the charges for both phones with American Express.

6/29/17: Still no refund from Verizon and no word from Katie, 8 days after my conversation with her in which she assured me she would handle the situation. American Express also does not hear back from Verizon concerning the disputed charges and refunds the $612 x 2 as well as the accrued interest to my card. Customer service at American Express could not be any different than at Verizon.

7/1/17: While I am on vacation in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, I receive a message from Verizon stating that I need to make a payment to “avoid interruption and a reconnection fee per line.” I take time out of my lunch to call Verizon. This time I speak to Judy, for over an hour (see below). She once again reviews my entire case file and I once again explain the entire situation to her. She insists that she does not want to get off the phone until the matter is entirely resolved, and I say that is a good thing because I am out in the middle of BFE Arizona and if I cannot use my phone I could be in big trouble.

After an hour of sitting in my car in 100 degree Arizona desert temperatures, my phone conversation with Judy ends as follows (transcription of phone call):

David: Yes

Judy from Verizon: OK, we are taking care of this. The credit will be going through. And I’m contacting financial services today on your behalf to tell them not to turn off your services because we are processing a credit for the $1,224 today.

D: That’s going back to my Verizon account not my American Express card right?

J: No, it’s going to clear your Verizon account out here. Correct.

D: OK. And the whole matter will be settled then, there’ll be no problems?

J: Yes, it’s going to be cleared up today. Everything’s going to be applied today. And we’ll get it taken care of, and then I’m going to call financial services on your behalf to let them know not to turn the services off, and that we have a credit that is being applied to the $1,224 to clear that out.

D: Well, that’s very good news. I appreciate your help with that. I wish I would have talked to you the first time.

J: And I do apologize for this having to take so long and for you having to repeat it so many times. It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out. I just need to get to financial services to let them know it is going to take about 5 days so that way they’ll be able to see the credit sitting in there just waiting to be applied to the account.

D: OK, just as long as I don’t lose my service. I could die in the desert if I do.

J: No you are absolutely not going to lose your services. I am going to take care of that call just as soon as I get off the phone with you, OK?

D: OK, thank you very much and GOD BLESS YOU.

J: And thank you as well, and you go and enjoy your vacation. We have the rest of this taken care of on our end. Once and for all.

D: OK, thanks Judy.

This conversation took place two weeks ago.

7/14/17: Two weeks after Judy assures me “It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out,” I receive the following text message from Verizon again telling me to pay my bill or have my service interrupted and pay a reconnection fee.

I check my account and sure enough, plain as day, it shows that I STILL have a past due balance in the disputed amount of $1,224. All of Judy’s sincere assurances were as meaningful as all of Katie’s. At this point I am 6 weeks, 4 phone calls, and nearly 4 hours into an ordeal of trying to get credit back to my credit card (and now to my Verizon account) money that should have been credited back to me in mid-May.

I call Verizon customer service again and tell the agent that I had already spoken to 5 different people and that I did not want to speak to her and please connect me to her supervisor. After being on hold for 6 minutes, I remembered the earlier call that I was on hold waiting for a supervisor for 30 minutes only to get disconnected. So I hung up and this time spoke to customer service representative Ken, explaining my situation and frustration that each customer service interaction was like the first, despite the fact that both Katie and Judy insisted that they were taking copious notes in my record so that it would be perfectly clear what was going on.

After a brief investigation, Ken puts me on hold for 30 minutes. During this time I struck up a chat with Verizon CS on Twitter to pass the time being on hold with Ken (which amount to nearly an hour total time again when combined with my initial 7 minutes on hold).

After having me on hold for 30 minutes, Ken comes back on the line to let me know, “You’re in luck.” When I (not politely) let him know that I didn’t think 4.5 hours on the phone over 6 weeks made me lucky, he punitively put me back on hold. 5 minutes later he came back on the line to tell me that a credit would be issued to my account for $1,224 but that it was too late for that to show up on this billing cycle so he would call the financial people to ask them to put my account on a 2 week hold so I could not have my service interrupted.

So, basically telling me — like Katie and Judy did — to trust him to get the credit processed at some unspecified time. I told Ken I had been told this three times before and what should I do if what he promises will happen doesn’t happen? He had no good response other than it wasn’t going to happen this time. As President George W. Bush once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

While Ken was doing all this, my chat with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter was ongoing. The text of the entire chat appears below. In the end, one of the Twitter customer service representatives, TAB, said that a credit would be applied to my account in 24 to 48 hours. When I asked for a phone number to call if this didn’t happen, another rep (RD) jumped in to say that the credit had been applied immediately.

I did as RD suggested and called #BAL and found the $1,224 credit issued. Which raises the question: Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And what compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closes our chat, an automated message pops up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding.




Pilgrimages to Japanese-American World War II Internment Camps and Isolation Centers

This page collects all of my previous posts about the interment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and provides a home for my (hopefully) growing list of pilgrimages to the sites of internment camps and isolation centers.

Previous Posts


Pilgrimages to Sites

Recently, I have made an effort to visit the sites of the internment camps and isolation centers when the opportunities present themselves. As of July 2017, I have visited one camp and two isolation centers, which are linked below.


Internment Camps

Gila River War Relocation Center, Arizona

Granada War Relocation Center, Colorado (AKA “Amache”)

Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming

Jerome War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Manzanar War Relocation Center, California

Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho

Poston War Relocation Center, Arizona

Rohwer War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Topaz War Relocation Center, Utah

Tule Lake War Relocation Center, California


Citizen Isolation Centers (for those considered to be problem inmates)

Moab, Utah (AKA Dalton Wells)

Leupp, Arizona (see directions to the site here)

Fort Stanton, New Mexico (AKA Old Raton Ranch)


Justice Department Detention Camps (housed Nikkei considered to be disruptive or of special interest to the government)

Crystal City, Texas

Fort Lincoln Internment Camp

Fort Missoula, Montana

Fort Stanton, New Mexico

Kenedy, Texas

Kooskia, Idaho

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seagoville, Texas

Forest Park, Georgia



Directions to Leupp Isolation Center (World War II Japanese-American Detention) Site

As noted in my previous post, there is no official historical marker for the Leupp Isolation Center for Japanese-American detainees during World War II. Nor is the location marked on Google Maps (though I submitted a request that Google add a marker).

For anyone wanting to go see the site, here are the directions I used. Please be mindful that a family does currently live in the Superintendent’s House and locals do use the roads.

The site is in the area known as Old Leupp, which lies southeast of the current town of Leupp. I began at the gas station (Pic-N-Run) at the center of Leupp and proceeded as follows (3.6 miles total):

  1. From the gas station in the new town of Leupp, travel east on Indian Route 15/Leupp Road for 1.9 miles to Old Leupp Road
  2. Turn right (South) on Old Leupp Road
  3. Continue 1.7 miles on Old Leupp Road past Indian Road 6933 to arrive at the old Superintendents House (on map above).

Indian Route 15/Leupp Road is a paved highway, but Old Leupp Road is a graded dirt road with lots of washboarding, so take your time.

Old Leupp Road toward Leupp Isolation Center site, July 1, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The best way to orient yourself is using the Superintendent’s House and the Presbyterian Church. They are easy to find if you match up this Google Map satellite image of the area with the drawing of the site provided below:

Drawing of site from online book Confinement and Ethnicity:



Pilgrimage to Leupp Isolation Center, Arizona

On April 27, 1943, Harry Ueno and other inmates at the Moab Isolation Center at Dalton Wells in Utah were moved to an abandoned Indian boarding school on the Navaho Trival Land in Leupp, Arizona. Ueno and four others were “forced to make the 11-hour trip confined in a four by six foot box on the back of a flat-bed truck,” according to the Confinement and Ethnicity. The book continues, “The prison atmosphere at Leupp was enforced by four guard towers, a cyclone fence topped with barbed wire, and the 150 military police who outnumbered the inmates by more than 2 to 1.”

Inmates at Old Leupp isolation camp outside the old boarding school, 1943.

Leupp isolation center was open slightly longer than Moab, from 27 April 1943 until 2 December 1943. It housed over 70 inmates at its peak, when the detainees from Moab were joined by inmates from Tule Lake (California) and Topaz (Utah). When it closed, the 71 remaining inmates were transferred to the incarceration center within the Tule Lake Internment Camp in far Northern California.

Claudia Katayanagi has recently completed a documentary called “A Bitter Legacy” about the internment which has a considerable focus on the Leupp isolation center.

The fact that my wife and I drove through the Navajo Nation Reservation and the Hopi Reservation from the north to get to Leupp was not lost on us. Leupp is on Navajo land and the connection between Japanese-American detainees and members of the Navajo Nation has been observed by others.

There are no permanent or temporary markers identifying the site of the Leupp Isolation Center and only a few buildings, like the Superintendent’s House and Presbyterian Church, remain. Using the map provided in the National Park Service book Confinement and Ethnicity (reproduced below) we were able to find the site by orienting ourselves to Indian Route 6932 running north/south and the levee to the east.


In reflecting on the experience recently and looking at Google maps of the area, it dawned on me that there is no river to the EAST of the levee. The isolation center is to the WEST of the levee, and WEST of the isolation center is the Little Colorado River. So, the isolation center clearly lies in a flood plain, and it turns out that is one reason the original Indian boarding school was closed.

Other than the few buildings that remain standing, walking the site is basically an exercise in imagination to envision what once stood in these ruins. Even a marker like the windmill and tank that was photographed as late as 2008 no longer exists:

Remains of the windmill and tank, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The Old Leupp Trading Post, which once sat on Old Route 66, then and now:


Remains of Old Leupp Trading Post, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The parts of the site that were actually used to house the inmates — I am guess this is the area marked as “boarding school” on the map near the watertower — have been cleared so that little evidence of its existence can be found.

Historic picture of Leupp Isolation Center building and water tower from

We were able to identify the foundations for the teachers’ residences and dining hall near the windmill.

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Some parts of the site are only vaguely marked on the map, like this sidewalk leading to the area marked as “posts”:

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Although it’s not clear whether the nurses’ residence behind the Superintendent’s house was used for the Luepp isolation center, the remains give a distinctive feeling for the condition of the site.

Remains of Nurses’ Residence, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The view from the remains of the nurses’ residence conveys a sense of what the inmates would have seen during their time at Leupp isolation center.

View from Remains of Nurses’ Residence, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Pilgrimage to Dalton Wells Isolation Center, Moab, Utah

The resistance to the unjust authority felt by Japanese-American citizens who were forcible evacuated from their homes and imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II went beyond the organized efforts against the loyalty questionnaire I discussed in an earlier post. And the resistance was not without consequence.

One of the best known detainees at Manzanar was Harry Ueno, the “Manzanar Martyr.” As head of the Manzanar Kitchen Workers Union, he was identified as a “troublemarker” for helping bring to light the theft and sale of inmate supplies like sugar by Manzanar authorities. Later arrested and at the center of the “Manzanar riot,” Ueno and 15 others were taken from the internment camp and moved to an “isolation center” near Moab, Utah.

The Dalton Wells isolation center was the site of a former Civilian Conservation Corp camp some 13 miles north of Moab. Lying hundreds of miles from any major city at 38.5667 lat and -109.5333 lng, it was “the American equivalent of Siberia.”

The Moab Isolation Center at Dalton Wells was only open from 11 January 1943 until 27 April 1943 and housed at its peak just 49 Nisei and Kibei “troublemakers” like Harry Ueno.

On a trip through the National Parks of Utah, my wife and I made the (short) pilgrimage from Canyonlands National Park near Moab to Dalton Wells. There we found little evidence of the existence of the Moab Isolation Center beyond the marker placed there.

Marker at Moab Isolation Center, Dalton Wells. Photo by David Yamane

The previously mentioned National Park Service book, Confinement and Ethnicity, provides a drawing of the site as it existed in 1943.

From National Park Service book, Confinement and Ethnicity, available at

My wife and I found some concrete remnants marking the entrance drive, a few concrete slabs, and some stray posts. Like many former internment and isolation camps, nothing has been built at this site to replace what was once there. There was a reason these places were used as prisons.

The sense of desolation at the site today no doubt pales in comparison to what the inmates must have felt when they arrived and during their short stay.




Additional Resources on Japanese-American Internment Camps During World War II

I began this series of posts talking about how little I knew about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, even when I was an upper-division college student at UC-Berkeley. At the same time I “discovered” the internment, I also discovered resistance within the internment camps.

Almost 30 years later, now, and much more has been done to publicize both the internment and the resistance. In addition to the digital copies of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records that I explored in hard copy at UC-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, there is Densho, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving, educating, and sharing the story of World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans, with its rich and growing online encyclopedia. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has exhibits online, as does the National Archives. The National Park Service is doing a great job at Manzanar, as I wrote about already. They also published a free on-line book, Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites, which I consult often.

In addition, John Okada’s 1956 novel, No-No Boy, is back in print. The first Japanese-American novel, it is a fictional telling of the story of the resistance to the loyalty questions.

I was interested to learn just recently that a documentary called “Resistance at Tule Lake” is just being finished and screened. The trailer is available on YouTube:

The aforementioned Densho site also has made available a number of interviews with individuals who resisted their unjust internment by answering “No-No” on the loyalty questionnaire or otherwise resisting the draft. Here a a few:



This is obviously just a start. If you know of other resources beyond these, please mention and link to them in the comments.

A Critical Incident and Collective Resistance in WWII Japanese-American Internment Camps

In my last post I discussed conflicting views of how Japanese-Americans ought to handle the internment. For the sake of ease, I characterized those who wanted internees to be cooperative with and supportive of the government as pro-JACL, and those who took a more negative view of the situation as anti-JACL.

Over the course of the detention, there was a great and growing distrust of the government on the part of many detainees. Skepticism was not in short supply and the Anti-JACL attitude seemed to be spreading as a result. Many Issei (as well as some Nisei) were busy organizing among the detainees.

Of course, for some, this took place from the start. For example, one observer of the Tanforan detention center from which people were sent to permanent internment camps wrote that some “had begun to develop … a negativistic philosophy … [They] slowly gathered their forces … and began to exert pressure [on other detainees]. Most of this organization was carried on underground and was manifested in ideas and attitudes” (Kunitani, Tanforan Politics, p. 14).

Screen cap of Kunitani’s “Tanforan Politics” from

There still could be no true resistance on the part of the underground groups, though, as they had nothing to resist. Within the detention centers, any service or cooperation they withheld would only hurt detained Japanese as a group — as much of the work done in the centers directly benefited center occupants — and draw the scorn of the coercive arm of the United States government– imprisonment and loss of citizenship were a constant threat. Both Issei and Nisei organized nonetheless.

Much of the underground organizing was explicitly in opposition to what had come to be seen as the pro-administration stance of the JACL. Those with Pro-JACL views and JACL members especially were called “inu” — literally, dogs. In Tule Lake Relocation Center (Newell, California), a group organized under the name “Japanese American Liberators.” According to internee Shotaro Frank Miyamoto, “The inception of the group probably was caused by two main aims, on the one hand, to have an organization of the Nisei in opposition to the JACL, and on the other, to organize the Nisei for vigorous action to save themselves from the pressure of anti-Japanese feeling rising in this country” (Japanese American Liberators, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.25).

Screen cap of Miyamoto’s “Japanese American Liberators” from

Thus, the nascent organization for collective resistance was undeniably present at Tule Lake. But once more the question arises, resistance to what?

Again, more so than most dependents, the detainees relied on the government for virtually everything. The centers were, in sociologist Erving Goffman’s terms, “total institutions”[*]

The government controlled nearly every aspect of their lives: school, work, recreation, food. The slightest disturbance could result in denial of privileges, and the ease with which the government corralled and caged those of Japanese ancestry raised questions in many minds as to the grave consequences of a collective action. These manifold deterrents notwithstanding, widespread collective resistance eventually occurred inside the internment camps.

The term “critical incident” is from William A. Gamson, Bruce Fireman, and Steve Rytina, Encounters with Unjust Authority (Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press, 1982).

Early in 1943, less than a year into the detention, there was an event — the government program of registration of detainees for Selective Service and clearance for leave from the centers — which greatly increased the capacity of detainees for organized resistance. It was a “critical incident” and immediately thereafter the most intense and widespread collective resistance of the entire evacuation and detention program occurred.

According to the War Relocation Authority Tule Lake Reports Officer, “When the War Department announced on January 28 [1943] the proposed formation of a combat team composed of American citizens of Japanese ancestry to be recruited by the United States Army for active service in a theater of war, and the mass clearance of loyal Japanese-Americans for work on the outside [of the centers], the curtain was raised on a drama so moving and so fraught with human emotions that the repercussions will effect in varying degrees the lives of many Tule Lake [detainees] for years to come” (John C. Cooks, Selective Service and Leave Clearance Programs at Tule Lake-An Historical Survey, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 6.05, p. 1).

The legitimacy of the government had already decreased in the eyes of many during the course of evacuation and detainment, and the proposal put forward by the War Department of registration for Selective Service and leave clearance was seen as grossly unfair. A program of registration under ordinary circumstances surely would not have met much organized resistance. The various levels of the state regularly require its subjects to file information: automobile registration, Selective Service registration, birth and death certificates, taxes, Social Security, drivers’ licenses, etc. In the sensitive atmosphere of the relocation centers, though, it would take only a small spark to ignite the mounting feeling of resentment and unleash a full-fledged movement.

In order to form a Japanese-American combat team and to approve leave clearances for resettlement, the government needed to determine who in the camps was “loyal” and who was “disloyal.” This would be done by means of a registration questionnaire to be filled out by all detainees. Loyalty would be determined by responses to the questionnaire, specifically two questions: #27 and #28 (the so-called “loyalty questions”).

Source: Smithsonian Institution, “Life in American Concentration Camps,”

Question 27 read,

“Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?”

Question 28 asked,

“Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attacks by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese Emperor or any other foreign government, power or organization?”

These two questions had to be answered in the presence of a US Army officer.

The objections to the questionnaire were manifold, and according to Cooks, “The [questionnaire] struck the project like a bomb.” It was a bomb that would create the most widespread and passionate resistance in the life of the centers. Detainees who decided to join the resistance to the Selective Service and leave clearance program could do so in several ways.

The army wanted the Japanese­ American combat unit to consist of volunteers, not inductees. Not volunteering, then, was a subtle but powerful action. Also, refusing to register would greatly impede the process of determining “loyalty.” Those who went through the registration process could (and did) signify their discontent by answering “NO” to questions 27 and 28. They could also offer qualified answers to either. Finally, the most serious form rejection of the US government could take was the request for repatriation to Japan. In my review of the documents, it appears that all of these methods of resistance were employed, in varying degrees, in nearly every camp.

Tule Lake, Newell, Calif.–A view of Selective Service registration headquarters — Photographer: Stewart, Francis — 6/30/42. Courtesy UC-Berkeley Bancroft Library.

At Tule Lake, for example, an army team explained the Selective Service and leave clearance programs on February 9th, and registration was to proceed block by block beginning on the 10th. Cooks recounts the unprecedented events: “Registration was slow. Wednesday evening, February 10, colonists met in their respective mess halls at the behest of their block managers.

The following blocks decided against registration for induction or for indefinite leave: 5, 28, 35, 46, and 48.  The block manager of Block 28 tenta­tively explained that the residents of his entire block wish[ed] to repatriate … Enemies of the selective service and  leave clearance programs were busy, apparently, because  threats on the lives of a number of colonists had already been made, particularly persons prominently identified with the JACL … By Thursday, February 11, it was obviously apparent that there was organized resistance to the registration program … It was apparent that there was a subversive group operating behind  the scenes, intimidating col­onists and urging non-cooperation  with the selective service and leave clearance programs.

This explanation of the early events by a WRA official suggests three things happening at Tule Lake internment camp: one, that there was widespread resistance to the registration program, and by extension to the government itself. Two, that the resistance was organized and collective. Three, that there was direct hostility toward the JACL and its followers.

Registration was an issue which clearly embodied the philosophical differences between the pro-JACL and anti-JACL attitudes I have described. The Pro-JACL position on registration was expressed by a Nisei minister who implored one residential block not to vote en masse against registration:

I think [registration] is a test of loyalty, and the future of the Japanese residents of this country depends upon this critical moment … This is an opportunity to test our loyalty, both citizens and non-citizens, on the individual basis … This is not time to get emotional and count the past hardship, mistreatment and injustice … If we refuse to register, the government wouldn’t lose anything while we lose everything, even our citizenship. Then what’s the use of fighting? We have nothing to fight for, nothing to fight with. “Better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.” Don’t let this chance of proving your loyalty pass carelessly. (Evacuee Letters, Folder R 30, Barnhart Catalog)

On the other side of the issue, Kentaro Takesui explained very simply why he did not register. Refusal to register was “a symbol of our resentment against oppression. The suppressed emotional bitterness that was boiling upwards had to have an outlet and this was it.” Indeed, in many respects, registration was not even the issue. As Takesui wrote, “the issue and question of registration became of secondary importance” (The Factual Causes and Reasons Why I Refused to Register and A General Summary of the “Registration Incident” at Tule Lake, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 30.25).

Screen cap of Takesui “Why I Refused to Register” from

What was truly important was that the delegitimized government was trying to institute a program which made demands deemed unfair by many detainees. The organizations and ideas for resistance already existed; thus, when the opportunity arose for the detainees to withhold something which the government wanted (their bodies for war and their statement of loyalty), it was seized.

By no means was resistance to the registration program limited to Tule Lake. Guy Robertson, Heart Mountain Project Director, wrote to Dillon Myer, WRA Director, “Our registration is practically complete at Heart Mountain and in many ways it has been very discouraging … I have felt, and I still feel, that there has been an undercurrent of resistance” (Induction, Registration and Selective Service, Folder M 3.00, Barnhart Catalog).

James Lindley, Granada Project Director, similarly wrote to Myer, “originally 106 military aged citizens answered Question No. 28 in the negative. At the same time this information was tabulated, we had 31 volunteers for the Combat Team, which appeared to me to be a rather heavy ratio in the wrong direction” (Induction, Registration and Selective Service, Folder L 8.00, Barnhart Catalog).

Screen cap of Omachi, “Draft Registration,” from

At Gila River, “The results of registration of the first three blocks were very discouraging, possibly 80 or 90% [‘no’ responses to question 28]. Block four was said to be about 100% ‘noes'” (Omachi, Draft Registration, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder K8.28, p. 2).

At Poston, “[The officials] encountered a flood of ‘Nos.’ The administrative officials became jittery. [Project Director Wade] Head in a staff conference threatened to place all those who answered ‘No’ to 27 and 28 in internment camps but was restrained by [Employment Chief] Kennedy and a few others who pointed out the illegality of such a step” (Tamie Tsuchiyama, Notes on Selective Service Registration, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder J6.23, p. 16).

Screen cap of “Notes on Selective Service Registration” from

It seems abundantly clear, then, that resistance to registration was neither slight, nor isolated.

A final note about attitudes of the Japanese during detention. Though the two attitudes toward the evacuation and detention could not be more polarized, there was one thing that both sides could agree upon, and this too is brought out rather clearly in the documents I surveyed. Whether Pro- or Anti-JACL, complicit with or resistant to the registration program, most Japanese adhered to the saying, “Koi No Take Nobori.”

Yashima Gakutei, “Red Carp Ascending a Waterfall,” H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929, Metropolitan Museum of Art. CC0 1.0 Public Domain

The koi (carp) in Japanese culture is a symbol of strength, and the saying translates to “swimming up a waterfall like the carp.” It means overcoming any hardships one is confronted with.

One Issei wrote from Gila River, “We see quite a few [carp in] gardens in our camp swimming gayly, and I like to stop very often to watch them — the emblem of undaunted spirit” (The Pros and Cons of Situation, Folder K 12.10, Barnhart Catalog, p. 24).

That undaunted spirit was evident not only during the resistance to the loyalty questionnaire but also when, out of the dust and barbed wire of concentration camps, people of Japanese ancestry rose to success in American society after World War II.

Koi No Take Nobori



[*] “A total institution may be defined as a place of residence and work where a large number of like situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time. together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.” Erving Goffman. Asylums: Essays on the Social Structure of Mental Patients and Other Inmates (Chicago: Aldinc Publishg Company, 1962), xiii.

Because the detainees had some personal space and freedom of movement and thought, the centers were not as extreme as the mental hospitals Goffman studied. There was thus much less mortification and curtailment of the self. While still being a total institutions by Goffman’s definition, these variations should be noted.

Conflicting Attitudes of Japanese-American Detainees during World War II

Having discussed my “discovery” of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, as well as a brief history and mention of my pilgrimage to the Manzanar internment camp, I now want to consider conflicting attitudes of Japanese-American detainees.

(Note: Documents referenced below are part of what used to be called the Barnhart Catalog of Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Documents at UC-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, a repository for a large number of primary documents from the period. I originally reviewed these physical documents back in 1989; some I have been able to find online, where linked below. Others I could not find due to reorganization of the files prior to digitization.)

Screen cap of Tanforan detention center newspaper published by detainees and available at

Under the pressure of evacuation and detention, two distinct attitudes toward the government relocation program developed. On the one hand, there were those who advocated cooperation with the government. They tended to side with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a Nisei organization which came to be the liaison between the government and Japanese detainees.

Not all detainees, however, felt they owed the government their cooperation nor, for some, their allegiance. Resentment toward the evacuation and detention of US citizens and loyal resident aliens was central to this view of the situation. Many, though not all, who held this view were vehemently opposed to the JACL, its beliefs and its followers.

Pro-JACL Detainees

The Pro-JACL detainees recognized the injustice which they had suffered, but were always more concerned with the image that Japanese-Americans portrayed to the American public. They felt resistance or lack of cooperation would be a black mark on the record of Japanese in America and would be seen by whites as justification of the evacuation and detention. Clarence Nishizu, detained at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, argued that to “pave the way for the rest who are in the center, it is the responsibility of the Nisei to create the most favorable impression upon the public” (Opinions of Evacuees, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder M4.00, p. 19).

Another Nisei reflected, “Since things Japanese did were unpopular. the Nisei went out whole hog for things American. They became 200% flag waving ‘Americans'” (Michio Kunitani, Tanforan Politics, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder B8.29, p. 15).

Screen cap of Kunitani’s “Tanforan Politics” from

These detainees always sought to prove their loyalty to the United States: in being detained, they were just doing their part in the war effort. One high school junior expressed this attitude very clearly and concisely: “Many men have given their lives for their country since December 7. They gave their all for their native land. Let us drop our ill feelings and take on this life in camp as our duty in this war as loyal Americans. ” Several essays written in class at Tanforan (detention center) High School express the feeling toward the relocation (see My Role in Relocation, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder B 8.32, Barnhart Catalog).

The Pro-JACL detainees looked forward to reintegration (and even assimilation) into society after the war ended, and wanted to be able to fall back on their cooperation during the war to ease that process.

Anti-JACL Detainees

The Anti-JACL detainees resented the hypocrisy of a supposedly democratic government that would detain its citizens without due process of law. One Nisei wrote in a letter to friends, “After being taught and educated that freedom of expression and movement is something worth while . . . , it is extremely difficult to accept cooping up as if it were [the] inevitable hand of fate [that] had thrust us here, and that we should meekly accept that as such” They resented being asked to prove their loyalty to America: “the whole thing and the attitude of the people outside toward us (prisoners of war) gripes me. What the hell. They take us out of our paths of life and put us in a rat-hole like this and expect us to be contented. Who do they think we are anyway?” (Correspondence from Tanforan Assembly Center, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder B 12.50, Barnhart Catalog).

And they resented the life in the relocation centers: “Minidoka [Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho] is a lonely place, spiritually bleak, devoid of hope and warmth. It is surrounded by barbed wire, and watch towers punctuate the horizon . The only gate is guarded by military police. No one enters or leaves without credentials” (R.M. Hosokawa. A Phi Beta Kappa Nisei Speaks, BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder 8.50.

Screen cap of Hosokawa’s “A Pi Beta Kappa Nisei Speaks” from

For most of the detention, the Pro-JACL attitude was dominant, and the centers were without significant disturbances. The prevailing attitude was one of cooperation. All along, there existed underground organization s coordinated by Anti-JACL detainees. But, for the most part, they were unable to mount any significant collective resistance to the centers’ administrations.

Not only did they contend with the Pro-JACL factions for ideological and material support, but they were also up against a wartime state organization, the War Relocation Authority, that had the full coercive force of the US Army to back it up. (The WRA was a civilian agency established to administer the relocation and detention centers by Executive Order No. 9102, March 18, 1942, see Appendix C in Myer, Uprooted Americans, p. 309, for the full text of the order.)

Screen cap of correspondence from Tanforan detention center from

Add to that the barrage of pro-American propaganda leveled upon the detainees (reading the essays and school newspapers of the high school students is remarkable evidence of this type of ideological indoctrination) and clearly the formation of a resistance movement would seem unlikely.

During the detention, however, the US government instituted a policy which was the spark needed to ignite the fire of latent antipathy among the detainees. In my next post I turn to that “critical incident” and the collective resistance unleashed.

Child’s letter written after arrival at Tanforan detention center in San Bruno, California, screen cap from document at