- Reviewed by
Amid serious concerns about both an intensely militarized security state, as well as President Trump's current moves to criminalize, detain, and deport people vaguely articulated as "Mexican" and "Muslim," Bayonets in Paradise chronicles the steps by which historical precedents for such actions have occurred in U.S. history. Harry N. Scheiber and Jane L. Scheiber examine martial law in the Territory of Hawai'i, an understudied event that the authors studied for several decades, gathering evidence from governmental archives accessed through "progressive release of extensive archival materials in recent years" (p. 4).
The book aims to be comprehensive, and with 18 chapters divided into seven parts, it indeed showcases the volume of archival research, which this review selectively outlines. Part One begins with an overview of martial law and military government, showing that the specter of fifth-column Japanese threat, as well as the anticipated response, was already embedded in Territorial plans. It moves then to a convincing chapter detailing the ways that plans for martial law had been carefully constructed beginning in the 1920s by the Army's War Plans Division, and then through concerted efforts by the FBI, military intelligence officers of the Army and Navy, and the Roosevelt administration. Chapter 3 stresses that the well-established structure for martial law only needed an impetus for implementation. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the military government very quickly transitioned into power, not only divesting civilian courts of power, but extending its reach into the illegal seizures of civilians. Indeed, preemptive detention, prior to a formal declaration of war, was possible due to this martial law infrastructure. By December [End Page 183] 9, 1941, 473 persons of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry had already been detained, including some detained with warrants that were submitted retroactively for the secretary of war's signature (pp. 44–46).
Chapter 4 details the incursion of martial law into even the most mundane aspects of civilian life, as well as censorship of the media. For this chapter, media censorship under martial law required the authors to innovate the sources and methods they might otherwise have used for a historical study. Chapter 5 describes how martial law, evacuation, and war production created an acute labor shortage in all sectors, including sex work. Not working and absenteeism were articulated into punishable crimes, and hard labor itself was leveraged as punishment (p. 83). More analyses would be welcome on the subject of worker resistance, which under martial law, cohered as a dual strike against capitalist exploitation and militarized labor control (p. 89). Chapter 12, in its coverage of the difficulty of negotiating the arbitrary legal mechanisms imposed during martial law, and the subsequent transition back to the civilian courts, returns to the points raised in Chapter 5. Garner Anthony, territorial attorney general, prioritized the restoration of civilian government, accounting for martial law's encroachment on civilian rights, especially highlighting the fact that "the military orders controlling labor had virtually set aside the Thirteenth Amendment and its prohibition of involuntary servitude" (p. 233).
Chapter 6 analyzes the suspension of habeus corpus in light of General Delos Emmons, who justified a perverse rationale for military control of the justice system by stating that the numerical white minority in Hawai'i would not be fairly served if juries included "citizens of Chinese, Korean, and Philippine ethnic minorities, as well as Japanese Americans" (p. 100). Following such an argument for military control of the justice system, the military provost courts continued on to criminalize—often arbitrarily—tens of thousands of civilians during the war (p. 109).
Chapter 13 offers a study on the fascinating absence of Japanese American internee petitions for writs of habeas corpus during the war, as well as attempts to move prisoners to and from the mainland to avoid judicial proceedings which threatened martial control, what the authors coin "the flight from habeas" (p. 257).
Chapter 7 yields the contradictions of several Japanese imperial...