Racial Hostilities Intensify

    Although Japanese immigrants made up a tiny percentage of the U.S. population even at the height of immigration, racial rhetoric crusaded to exclude the Japanese community.  For decades before the declaration of war, William Randolph Hearst, a member of the Japanese Exclusion League of California, used his editorial columns to foment fears of “The Yellow Peril,” originally used against the Chinese, now against the Japanese community, depicted as “enemies within our gates.”  He bankrolled films that fed stereotypes of Japanese villains land-grabbing for world domination and a menace to American womanhood.  His newspaper empire ran false headlines of Japanese loyalists amassing arms, performing nightly drills, and sending messages to aid the Japanese military. Media stereotypes and prejudices ascribed Japan’s military atrocities to an undifferentiated Japanese people.  

Other newspapers added their voice to the “Keep California White,” the slogan of San Francisco mayor, and later California Senator, James Phelan.  San Francisco Chronicle owner M.H. de Young, ran articles headlined “The Japanese Invasion, Problem of the Hour,” “The Yellow Peril; How Japanese Crowd Out the White Race.”  California Senator V.S. McClatchy, former owner of the Sacramento Bee and his brother of the Fresno Bee  strongly advocated for Japanese exclusion as a way to save vital economic arenas for whites only.  McClatchy and Congressman Hiram Johnson led the entire California delegation, and formed the “Executive Committee of Western States” to avert “the Japanese menace.” The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Associated Farmers and the nativist organizations argued for legislative and exclusionary policies to put an end to “the Japanese Problem.” After every newspaper assault, a barrage of violence against businesses and beatings would follow.  Boycotts of Japanese-owned businesses ensued. Anti-Japanese diatribes fueled demands to rescind citizenship rights of U.S. born children and 
the demand for exclusion of all Japanese.

1905 Newpaper article

"The Yellow Terror In All His Glory,” 1899 editorial cartoon.

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