At the Japanese American internment camp site, an art exhibit featuring photographs of Muslims has been the subject of complaints.
Yoshinaga cited Leslie Maslak, whose Letter to the Editor was published in The Billings Gazette: “Is this a ‘comparison’ to how we mistreat the ‘peace-loving’ Muslims? Whatever the reason, the exhibit does not belong at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp.”
Like Maslak, others in the Wyoming community have raised concerns about the relevance of the exhibit. Leger told us that some people who have contacted him “see the Muslim exhibit as disrespectful to the site and disrespectful to the Americans who were fighting in Afghanistan. They view the Muslim experience as dangerous to this country.”
This perception of Muslims as “dangerous”—and not as ordinary people—is exactly why we need this exhibit. Chair of the Board of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Shirley Higuchi’s written response to Yoshinaga’s column speaks to this need: “Perhaps if the country could have seen and understood Japanese Americans as regular folks, and not part of an enemy horde, it would have been slower to accept the mass violation of the civil liberties of an entire racial group.” Higuchi’s words are resonant with the title of the exhibit; “Esse Quam Videri” is North Carolina’s state motto and means “To Be Rather Than to Seem.”