What is a hero? Many people will claim it’s somebody who puts on a military or police uniform. Me? I believe a hero is somebody who acts morally, especially when they’re against an immoral enemy. Gordon Hirabayashi was a hero:
“This order for the mass evacuation of all persons of Japanese descent denies them the right to live,” Seattle native Gordon Hirabayashi wrote in 1942. “I consider it my duty to maintain the democratic standards for which this nation lives. Therefore, I must refuse this order of evacuation.”
With that, Hirabayashi became one of just a handful of Japanese-Americans who defied the government’s move to put more than 100,000 of them in detention camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. For his refusal, he was imprisoned more than a year.
As a friend said, “Hopefully the casket is built to accommodate his giant brass balls.”
The United States government, in order to drum up fear in the people at home, declared every American of Japanese descent an enemy of the State and rounded them up and put them into concentration camps. Mr. Hirabayashi told the United States government to go pound sand. In retaliation they kidnapped him and locked him in a cage. While, like his fellow Americans of Japanese descent, he ended up in a cage he didn’t do so willingly. He stood up for what was right. His defiance even forced the United States government, after four decades, to admit that it may have gone a bit far:
It took four decades for Hirabayashi to be vindicated, with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that the internment policy “had been based on political expediency, not on any risk to national security,” as The Associated Press writes.
Ludwig von Mises’ motto was, “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.” For those of you poor bastards who don’t know Latin it means “Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.” It’s a beautiful motto. If one abides by it then they stand the chance of becoming a real hero like Mr. Hirabayashi.
One thought on “The Passing of a Hero”
Here’s to you, Gordon Hirabayashi! I can only aspire to be as courageous as you if given the same choice.
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