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Anti-Japanese Pin

    Anti-Japanese Pin

    Ca. 1942-1945 Tin, ribbon Gift of Julie Ann Rogers 2021.7.1

    Decades later, it is still difficult to express the horror I felt the first time I saw a ‘J** Hunting License.’ The rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in our community and elsewhere in the nation reminds us that our work to advocate for the rights of all is more crucial than ever.“-Betty Jean Harry

    Betty Jean was a longtime board member of the Japanese American Museum of Oregon and contributed many volunteer hours working on the collection and exhibitions. This racist World-War-II-era pin made an impact on her that she remembers to this day.

    The first mass produced pin-back buttons were made for the McKinley vs. Bryan presidential race in 1896. They soon became a popular way to express one’s political views or allegiance to a particular group. The pin pictured is one of many that were made during World War II that showed the depths of anti-Japanese sentiment within American society. The message is shocking and shows how racist views can spread through easily available popular culture objects.

    Racist anti-Japanese propaganda like this pin did not suddenly appear during World War II with no prior precedent. Xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment had been mounting for years. In Oregon, white farmers were resentful of the success of their Nikkei neighbors long before the US entered World War II. Almost two decades before the war, in 1925, a white mob forced a labor crew of Japanese immigrants to leave their jobs and the town. Laws like the Immigration Act of 1924 (passed 100 years ago last month) restricted immigration from Asia almost entirely.

    It is important to show items like this from JAMO’s collection, even though they can be difficult to look at. This is how we remember and acknowledge how the past informs our present day. Look around and you’ll see that this same ugly hatred exists today, evidence of the urgent need for public education to counter these destructive ideologies.