Opinion » Letters

In defense of history (and Eva Ulz)



Dana Parker dismissing Eva Ulz’s history lesson and public work as propaganda (“A different internment lesson,” April 27) is a disservice to SLO’s citizenry and history. It makes me question if you, Ms. Parker, left the proverbial armchair to critically engage the History Center’s exhibit, “Tranquility Disrupted: Japanese Exclusion and San Luis Obispo County.” What Ms. Ulz has accomplished in collaboration with the community is critical to our understanding of Japanese-Americans’ contribution to the vitality of the Central Coast—despite hardships I trust you never weathered.

The public remembrance of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, moreover, puts into sharper view recent executive orders oozing with xenophobic nationalism. Comparing patterns of presidential executive orders is exactly what serious students and studies of history do. Comparison is a primary tool in the historian’s toolbox. Without it, history wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be history. It’d be akin to a carpenter without a hammer, a poet without a pen, or, gulp, a president without books. I challenge your assumption that history is disappearing and argue the contrary: It is more prevalent and relevant than ever. What you’re experiencing, Ms. Parker, like others who subscribe to master national (and nationalist) narratives, is a more inclusive type of history reflective of our diverse constituency.

My advice to you and your ilk would be to visit the History Center’s excellent exhibits and extensive archives to put Ms. Ulz’s efforts into proper context. You just may feel the politics and racism that you’re so quick to eschew in Ms. Ulz’s lessons of history.

-- Z. Daniel McKiernan - Los Osos

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