Gordon Hirabayashi did not attend Tuesday's Iowa caucuses. He was not invested in any issue or lobby in Olympia (although two or three Gordon Hirabayashis in the legislature would quickly redefine the political landscape.) Hirabayashi was, however, the seminal human rights figure to emerge from the University of Washington, a legacy of courage and service embedded in history that will endure long after names like "Rick Santorum" are relegated to Trivial Pursuit, the Politics Edition. Hirabayashi died Monday in Edmonton, Alberta, at age 93.
"When Mr. Hirabayashi challenged the wartime removal of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants from the West Coast to inland detention centers, he became a central figure in a controversy that resonated long after the war’s end," The New York Times' Richard Goldstein writes. "Mr. Hirabayashi and his fellow Japanese-Americans Fred Korematsu and Minoru Yasui, who all brought lawsuits before the Supreme Court, emerged as symbols of protest against unchecked governmental powers in a time of war."
In 1999, HistoryLink's David Takami offered his read of a life in full: "In a remarkable show of personal courage, Seattle native Gordon Hirabayashi was one of a handful of Japanese Americans nationwide to defy U.S. government curfew and evacuation orders in the spring of 1942. He was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned, and eventually appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although that bid was unsuccessful, the fight to overturn his conviction resumed in the 1980s, culminating in his judicial vindication." Northwesterners should develop a Hirabayashi standard for the political class — a high political-courage mark worth emulating.
Rick Santorum lost the Iowa caucuses to Mitt Romney by just eight votes. Could those eight caucus goers have Googled "Santorum" and switched to Romney after reading an altogether different definition of the two-term Republican senator? The Stranger's Dan Savage, in full gadfly mode, served as Google saboteur. "Savage and Santorum's spat originates in 2003. Santorum had compared gay sex to bestiality and incest and in response, Savage set out to Google-bomb and create a new meaning for 'Santorum' (just try it to see results)," writes Alexander Abad-Santos of the Atlantic Wire.
Ironically, the Savage attack (pun intended) was used as a pretext for Santorum's political fundraising. Was Dan Savage his secret weapon? "Savage and his perverted sense of humor is the reason why my children cannot Google their father's name," Santorum wrote in his fundraising pitch. No Google bomb goes unpunished, it seems.
Good politicians evolve, reassessing and acknowledging when they were wrong. As long as a political conversion is principled, it should be considered a virtue. Washington's governor is expected to recount her conversion experience this morning.
"Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday is expected to publicly back efforts to make Washington the seventh state to legalize marriage for lesbian and gay couples," the Seattle Times' Andrew Garber writes. "Sources close to the discussions said the governor will support gay-marriage legislation during the session that starts Monday."
Gregoire's support provides a political boost to the gay-marriage campaign. As Garber writes, "Democratic state Sen. Ed Murray and state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both gay lawmakers from Seattle and leaders in the marriage effort, said support from the governor would raise the profile of the legislation and put the power of her office behind the effort."
Legalizing gay marriage has become a Democratic trope, so perhaps Gregoire's conversion was forced. Or maybe, like the rest of us, she gave the issue a hard look and realised it was a fundamental question of justice and equality.
Portland's mayor is worried —fearful in fact — that a planned Republican presidential debate in his city will sideline police resources dedicated to the Occupy movement. "Portland Mayor Sam Adams says he is unhappy about Republican plans to hold a presidential debate here in March because it would blow a further hole in police costs already strained by the Occupy Portland protests," the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes writes. "Adams said Tuesday that he realizes he can't force the Oregon Republican Party and Oregon Public Broadcasting — which plans to televise the debate from its Southwest Macadam Avenue studios — to cancel the event. But he said he's trying to persuade them to shift the debate to a location nearer the airport to reduce the number of police needed for security."
True, political tours can be costly and, as Mapes notes, "In 1991, Mayor Bud Clark billed candidates to recover the security costs of campaign visits by then-President George Bush and his eventual successor, Democrat Bill Clinton. The bills were ignored." However, the mayor doth protest too much. Adams' caterwauling is inconsistent with a welcoming town and the honor of hosting a presidential debate.
Lastly, one of the Republicans most promising Western candidates, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, is leaving the GOP for the Libertarian party. As Ed Quillen of High Country News writes, "He fits pretty well with Libertarians, who might be described as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Johnson favors a balanced federal budget, the elimination of corporate income taxes, and repealing Obama's Affordable Care Act. Those are standard contemporary Republican positions. But he also supports gay marriage, a woman's right to choose, and legalized marijuana — none of which are exactly standard GOP principles." Why can't inspired reformers (including Johnson, even if he is wrong about corporate income taxes) stay put and aim to reform from within?
New York Times, "Gordon Hirabayashi, WWII Internment opponent, was 93"
Seattle Times, "Sources say Gregoire will publicly support gay marriage"
High Country News, "Former New Mexico governor leaves GOP"