Monday, September 28, 2009

I think anyone who's ever been here knows my love of English Russia. I don't get there every day, since I find it incredibly time-consuming, given the simplicity of the site. It's not just the complete insanity of the commenters there (this is the only site I actually read the comments on), or the awesome cultural weirdness, but also the way you get to see all of these little things about the Soviet era that would've been swept under the rug of history were it not for the downfall of the regime. The submarine bases at Sevastopol, the Road of Bones, etc...
What's even more amazing is that these things are still there. The USSR ran out of money, and never bothered to cover these things up. Here, the greatest of efforts are made to urge the population to forget about our previous mistakes, and instead to focus on our triumphs, regardless of where they came from*.
So I was pretty shocked to discover on Mental Floss this morning that remnants of Manzanar are still there. Manzanar was one of the "relocation centers" to which we herded the Japanese-Americans on the West coast following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interestingly enough, Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii at the time were relatively unmolested.
Anyway, I knew that it was made a National historic Site in the nineties, but I had no idea that any of it was still there. It just seems like the sort of thing we would bulldoze, put up a modest marker, and then move on. And while I'm sure they were pressured into doing so, I'm still happy to see that something was done. I have a friend whose parents were interned, and the stories she told me were awful. I like to see that we still wear this black eye.

Anyway, head over to Mental Floss to see the site as it looks today.

It's a road trip I should really consider making, and I guess that "I don't like driving through the desert" isn't really a viable excuse...

*It'll be curious in October, when we're celebrating the moon landing, if much mention is made that the space program which revitalized our national pride was the ultimate result of Nazi scientists and their slave labor. One of the reasons that we've prospered so much as a nation is that we've lifted technologies and methods from every culture around the world. Doesn't it strike you as odd that we feel obligated as a nation to be so proprietary about these ideas?

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