Analyzing the career of Dillon S. Myer, Director of the War Relocation Authority during WWII and Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1950-53, Richard Drinnon shows that the pattern for the Japanese internment was set a century earlier by the removal, confinement, and scattering of Native Americans.
In this important study Drinnon brings together evidence of the mistreatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and American Indians during the Korean War, showing how government policy in both cases grew out of ``traditional racism.'' This policy is neatly exemplified in the person of a colorless bureaucrat named Dillon Myer who headed the War Relocation Authority (19421946) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (19501953), presiding over twin calamities for groups of American citizens about whom he was appallingly ignorant. Drinnon describes the illegal incarceration of Japanese-Americans, the systematic breaking up of families, the establishment of penal colonies for ``troublemakers'' and Myer's declaration of administrative war on Native Americans. What is most shocking about this well-told but sorry tale is the abundant evidence of serene self-righteousness with which all this was carried out. Drinnon, a history professor at Bucknell, wrote Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building. Photos. (December
Drinnon uses this study of a second-level federal official to uncover the depth of institutional racism in 20th-century America. Myer, an undistinguished and culturally naive bureaucrat, ran Japanese-American relocation camps during World War II. Never willing to challenge a system that rewarded him with responsibility, Myer typified what Drinnon portrays as the dominant racism that assumed the worst of minorities. During the 1950s Myer assumed an important role in another controversial episode of racism, the attempt to force Indians into the mainstream by eliminating tribal reservations. Based largely on obscure public records and memoirs, this study indicts the system. Drinnon's heavy-handed anger sometimes becomes obtrusive, but this is still a good book. Charles K. Piehl, Director of Sponsored Progs., Mankato State Univ., Minn.