Image from QCTV
By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
A city councilmember from the small Minnesota town of Ramsey refused to back down from comparing enforcement of the mask mandate to incarceration camps for Japanese Americans.
Members of the Japanese American community came to the city council meeting Monday night to address that comparison as offensive. Chelsee Howell made the comments March 9 in support of a resolution urging that no city resources be used to enforced the mandate from the state. That resolution passed 4-3.
“Because of the “model minority” label, Asian Americans are often used as political pawns to further agendas that work against our community, as was the case with Councilmember Howell and the other councilmembers who supported the anti-mask motion,” said Vinicius Taguchi, chapter president of the Twin cities Japanese American Citizens League.
Members of the audience interrupted Taguchi’s saying a non-resident should not be allowed to speak, but both Mayor Mark Kuzma and the city attorney ruled he could continue.
Taguchi introduced Sally Sudo who at the age of 6 lived in a horses stable in Minidoka, ID in an incarceration camp.
“To use this story as a justification to defy a government mask order is not only wrong, it is offensive,” said Sudo. Referring to Japanese American who volunteered to serve in the US Armed Forces, she said they “made individual sacrifices for the sake of other people.”
“In defying the mask mandate, you are choosing your own comfort, and convenience over the health of other more vulnerable people in your neighborhood, your town, your state, and your country,” she said.
Jonathan Kent of Minnetonka would later come up, accusing audience members of being disrespectful to Sudo.
“I find it striking and a bit disgraceful,” Kent said while accusing audience members of rolling their eyes and not listening to Sudo.
“I think regardless of how they feel about an issue, affording someone basic respect listening to what they have to say, particularly if they lived through something that remains a stain on our nation’s history, I think that’s an important lesson to keep in mind, particularly in a room of grown adults,” he said.
Howell remained unmoved and defended her stance.
“Historically when we have been pressured by those in government to look the other way and not questions their actions, innocents have suffered the consequences,” Howell said. “I will go on standing against those who use the power of government to abuse the rights of citizens in fulfillment of my oath to uphold the constitution. We are going to have to agree to disagree.”
Most who spoke spoke in support of the resolution with several comparing the mask mandate to “tyranny.”
Councilman Ryan Heineman later would question what this country has learned from the Japanese American experience.
“The lessons of history are not reserved for those affected by it,” he said. “We need to learn from our history. While he said the mask mandate pales in comparison to the incarceration of Japanese Americans, “it still doesn’t mean we can’t call out the similarities, it still doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.
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