Docudrama About JA WWII Experience Echoes Today’s Anti-Muslim Sentiment

A jail scene from Brian Maeda’s docudrama “We Said No! No!”

A jail scene from Brian Maeda’s docudrama “We Said No! No!”

As outrage and conflict continue to swirl around Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks on Muslims, a local director is attempting to shed light on the mistakes of a period in which similar statements were made against Japanese Americans.

Brian Maeda, a documentary feature filmmaker who started his career on the Academy Award-winning “Bound for Glory” with renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler, is working on a new docudrama entitled “We Said No! No!” The film focuses on the experience of thousands of so-called “disloyal” Japanese Americans who were sent to the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Northern California during World War II.

Specifically focusing on one of the more controversial groups, the no-no boys, Maeda hopes to tell the story of internal conflict and strife brought about not only from the unfounded fears of Japanese American espionage and terrorism, but from a confusing — and what many Japanese American citizens considered to be insulting — loyalty questionnaire distributed to all Japanese American adults during their incarceration in some of the most barren and uninhabitable regions of the United States.

Incarcerees were asked if they were willing to forswear any allegiance to Japan’s emperor, but were not given the option saying they were never loyal to Japan. The Issei, who were barred from U.S. citizenship, feared that they would become stateless if they answered “yes.”