Letters: Manzanar defiled by the DWP
Re “Power and memory,” Editorial, Jan. 2
Your editorial — which supports both the preservation of the historical memory site of the World War II Manzanar detention camp for 10,000 Japanese Americans in the Owens Valley and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s plans to install a 1,200-acre solar array within sight of Manzanar to reduce California’s reliance upon fossil fuels — is flawed by sins of omission and commission.
On the one hand, the editorial omits consideration of any alternative sites that the DWP could utilize within its vast Owens Valley acreage to fulfill its mission to develop sources of sustainable energy. On the other hand, the editorial profanely arrogates the authority to determine that the proposed visible solar panels would be neither “visually intrusive” nor “mood-destroying” for a sacred site of commemoration.
In the same Times issue containing this editorial, there is an obituary for Ian Barbour (who reportedly bridged the gulf between science and religion) that registers a sentiment strikingly germane to the Owens Valley situation: Whereas science has the ability to tell society what is possible, religion has the capacity to reflect on what is desirable.
The writer is a professor emeritus of history and Asian American studies at Cal State Fullerton, where he directed the Japanese American Oral History Project.
It is essential not to let the DWP desecrate the area near what Congress set aside — albeit 52 years late — to remind us of the “fragility of civil rights in wartime.”
Solar power is indeed important, but if we lose our humanity in our efforts at sustainability, then what have we traded away, and what have we gained, and where will that lead?
The memorial at Manzanar should remain a sharp reminder of what we are capable of if we lose that humanity.
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