Manzanar Defiled By The DWP

Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, delivered the keynote address at the 39th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on Saturday, April 26, 2008.
Photo: Gann Matsuda

On January 2, the Los Angeles Times published an unsigned editorial supporting the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s proposal to build a 1,200-acre solar energy generating facility adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site.

You can read their editorial at: A Solar Array Won’t Hurt The Mood At Manzanar.

Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton penned a letter to the editor in response, which was published by the Times on January 4.

Hansen also submitted the letter to the Manzanar Committee for publication here, and you can read it below.


Re “Power and memory,” Editorial, Jan. 2

Your editorial, which supports both the preservation of the historical memory site of the World War II Manzanar detention camp for 10,000 Japanese Americans in the Owens Valley, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s plans to install a 1,200-acre solar array within sight of Manzanar to reduce California’s reliance upon fossil fuels, is flawed by sins of omission and commission.

On the one hand, the editorial omits consideration of any alternative sites that the DWP could utilize within its vast Owens Valley acreage to fulfill its mission to develop sources of sustainable energy. On the other hand, the editorial profanely arrogates the authority to determine that the proposed visible solar panels would be neither “visually intrusive” nor “mood-destroying” for a sacred site of commemoration.

In the same Times issue containing this editorial, there is an obituary for Ian Barbour (who reportedly bridged the gulf between science and religion) that registers a sentiment strikingly germane to the Owens Valley situation: Whereas science has the ability to tell society what is possible, religion has the capacity to reflect on what is desirable.

Art Hansen
Yorba Linda

The writer is a Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American studies at Cal State Fullerton, where he directed the Japanese American Oral History Project.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

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16 Responses to Manzanar Defiled By The DWP

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