The Last of the Last How Masabumi Hosono's Night was forgotten


Dec 12, 1999
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Thanks for the great article, Margaret. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find many white guys or women sympathetic to your perspective on Hosono, among this conservative, fundamentalist board membership. The Titanic disaster has traditionally been a white, Christian cataclysm . . . and is usually approached that way. The "Japanese" who was picked up in the water, was derided on by Officer Lowe, and joked about. Racism and religious intolerance was a problem then, and remains one, today. This is something that I'm focusing on with my forthcoming article on Edgar Meyer. Also, who are the heroes in this disaster? Traditionally, it's guys like Captain Smith, who have been the source material for fabrications such as his rescue of a baby, going down with the ship, etc. In his own way, guys like Hosono could be heroes. Edgar Meyer was a hero. This is something I'm trying to focus on with my forthcoming article.

Thanks again for your research, Margaret.

Jan
 

Phillip Gowan

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It is not insignificant that most of Jan Nielsen's posts are characterized by an undercurrent of anger. This conservative, fundamentalist board member is reminded of that little passage of Scripture that says "Anger resteth in the bosom of fools."
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Nice article, Margaret.

I will state though, that there is evidence that #10 lifeboat *was* the last of the port aft boats to leave. Both seaman Buley & Evans claimed to have lowered #12 before they left themselves in #10. There is other evidence that #12 was after #14 and #16, though I don't have those details handy.

Of course, #10 was not the absolute last lifeboat to leave. All the collapsibles either were launched or floated off later in the sinking.
 
May 12, 2005
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Margaret,

Please be assured that your work is welcomed and appreciated and that any insinuation to the contrary is a lot of hot air. Personally I am fascinated by your subject and applaud you for having the inspiration to shed light on a story little known. Your article on Hosono is first-rate. You have done him proud.

As to Jan's criticisms, it's a grossly unfair assessment that the ET board membership is conservative and fundamentalist but it's the intimation of racism that has me outraged. That's totally insupportable. I know a good many of the members here and I can say that, as a whole, they are a very diverse, accepting, fair-minded bunch.

There are several religious, cultural, sexual and political persuasions represented here. And there are some members who are not religious, political (or sexual!) at all.

The truth is there are a number of Republicans among the American membership but, knowing several of these, including that very proud conservative fundamentalist from South Carolina, I can say that they are far from being closed-minded or intolerant.

We here on ET are not all white, either; several in fact are inter-racial, have spouses who are, or (as in my case) have family members who are inter-racial. So the characterization of this forum as ethnically, politically or religiously biased is totally untrue.

May I say that it's also ridiculous to make the claim that all Titanic "heroes" have been Christian. The Strauses were among the most beloved and exalted of the lost and this was felt universally, not only by fellow Jews.

Jan further contends that most of the heroes are "guys like Captain Smith." Actually, although Smith was lionized by many, he was also bitterly criticized. So that's not quite a good example. The most famous "hero" wasn't even a "guy" at all - it was Molly Brown.

So, Margaret, please know your contribution has a good home among a group of folks who are more than glad to have you with us. I look forward to reading more of your work and hope you won't hesitate to share it here.

Randy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I don't think you'll find many white guys or women sympathetic to your perspective on Hosono, among this conservative, fundamentalist board membership.<<

Jan, could you possibly focus on the article and it's merits rather then essentially trying to make some sort of socio-political statement about the membership or second guessing what their attitudes and reactions will be? I haven't had a chance to read the article yet, but I intend to.

>>The "Japanese" who was picked up in the water, was derided on by Officer Lowe, and joked about.<<

Joked about? Where? I seem to recall that Lowe testified to the fact that he recanted what he did say about a "Jap" and would rescue the likes of him several times over if he had the chance, and he did it that night out on the North Atlantic.

Please, let's tell the whole of the story.
 

Dave Gittins

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Actually, the story of Lowe and the Asian is pure horsefeathers. It was concocted by Charlotte Collyer and/or a reporter. Collyer was never in a position to witness what Lowe did or said while trying to rescue people. Along with all the other passengers, she was removed from Lowe's boat before he went to the rescue. Her story of how she and other women tried to revive the man is pure imagination.

Lowe had the usual distaste for 'dagoes' that was common in Britain at the time. Like others that night, Lowe had labelled "Italians" as cowardly trouble-makers. He recanted his remarks about them before the Italian Ambassador and gave the document to the Senate inquiry. Lowe wasn't perfect, but he was not guilty of the statements about the Japanese attributed to him by Collyer and her ghost writer.

Just a few comments from the liberal atheist member.
 

Jeremy Lee

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So in this case, were there any racist treatment of Titanic's passengers during the sinking which resulted in them unable to save themselves? If no one saw or heard it, the officer would most probably keep his mouth shut, unlike Lowe.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Jeremy, I'm not sure it would have occured to them to give it a lot of thought. Quite a few of the attitudes extant at the time would certainly be offensive by our standards, but back then, these attitudes were accepted as "The way things are." They knew nothing of future sensibilities, had no way of knowing and would have cared less.

I went through that article last night. Racism was a factor in the game, but I found it interesting that some of the censure that Mr. Hosono suffered was at the hands of his own people. Racism was not an issue there!
 

Dave Gittins

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Oddly enough, statistics show that the percentage of foreign third class passengers surviving was greater than that of the third class English passengers. (The figures are on this site somewhere). Not much evidence of discrimination there.

As Michael said, a degree of racism was normal in those days, often under the influence of religion. A famous hymn included this little gem. (I won't swear to this being perfectly accurate)

What though the balmy breezes
Blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle,
Where every prospect pleases
And only man is vile.


Another famous example of assumed white superiority is Kipling's The White Man's Burden, which is about the duty of whites to civilise other races. It doesn't happen today!
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Randy,
You've pefectly summed up my thoughts in the matter about both the article and the people on this board. Thanks for your insightful comments, as usual.

Yes, we are a diverse bunch here, and nearly all of us get along together, nevertheless. We all bring something a little different to the group, which I suspect is one of the reasons why this board is such a great success.
 

Kyrila Scully

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I haven't read the article yet either, but intend to. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Hosono and the culture he felt he betrayed by surviving (according to one obit I saved - but consider the source - People Magazine).
But having met several of the members of this board and corresponding by private mail and phone conversations, I unequivocably second what Randy said! Shame on those who are judgmental of others with whom they have only a cursory acquaintance. Let he/she who is without sin cast the first stone, that's what I always say, quoting someone else's words. I'd say the regular members of this board have welcomed everyone - even those some would readily dismiss - with much courtesy, tolerance and hospitality. A wise man once told me that accusations of others are based on one's own weaknesses. I've rarely found that to be off-base. It sure keeps me on my toes to strive to live up to a life of integrity.

All the best,
Kyrila
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! "Cutie" strikes again, and once more demonstrates his ignorance of the diversity of the socio/cultural/political spectrum that makes up this board. Because folks don't march in step to his particular brand of bitter revisionism and polemical rhetoric, they are therefore all labelled as 'conservative' and 'fundamentalist.' Your own hidebound, pre-determined position on history, driven by narrow ideology, has determined your approach and tainted your interpretative abilities, and the result (as in your misrepresentation of the incident involving the rescue of a Japanese passenger) is a distortion of history based on heavy bias and a highly selective representation of facts.

I'm only sorry Jan's comments kicked off a thread where the emphasis should not be on his particular little hobby horse, but rather on the research piece by Margaret. Rather than an aberration, Margaret's work continues a tradition of looking analytically at the figures of the disaster in the context of their era and society - whatever that society might be. It's a valuable insight into how another culture viewed the sinking and its victims.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Oh dear, I don't know anything of Jan's posting history, so know nothing about undercurrents of anger etc. But I do know a bit about racism, and I think it is often misunderstood. For a start, this is an English-speaking Board, so it is only to be expected that it would be dominated by English speakers. We could probably hear much fascinating information if it were available in, say, Syrian. But that isn't very realistic, so we have to depend on people like Margaret to show an interest and do the translating. The other point I would like to make is that it is quite useless, as others have said, to judge 1912 by 2003 standards and get over-heated about it. Racism is never straightforward. It is often more a case of tribalism than racism - where people stick together, through fear or power-seeking, with those they feel most at home with. I know of colleges in the UK where whites are the minority and the blacks and Asians commit racist crimes against each other, much to the bewilderment of the Race Relations Board. It just isn't that easy to denigrate white fundmentalist Christians, or any other group. Everyone is potentially racist, given sufficiently grave circumstances - as existed on the Titanic, for example. The global-village perspective is the prerogative of the well-off, no matter what their ethnicity or religion. The deprived, unfortunately, will always have to stick together. On 15/04/12 everyone was potentially deprived (of life), so I expect they stuck together with those they felt most at ease with, and some groups lost out as a result.
Have you landed, Inger, or are you still travelling?
 

Phillip Gowan

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So now we know who "Cutie" is! LOL. I had thought it must be Nathan Casteel or some other naughty little child in need of a spanking but guess it was an older "Cutie." Tsk Tsk.
 

Inger Sheil

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I've landed finally, Monica
happy.gif
But most of my clothes, books and papers are still enjoying their Pacific cruise down under.

You raise some excellent points about the nature of racism. Simplistic polemicism rarely covers the complexities of the issue, a view I've had reinforced by living in Asia, studying issues of race at University from an academic standpoint, working on them in politics from a policy standpoint, and again living in a very ethnically diverse area of London. Masabumi Hosono's story provides a good case study of how multi-layered issues of race and culture are - to hold him up simply as a victim of Anglo-Saxon bigotry would be to ignore the true dimensions of his tragedy and what happened to him upon his return to Japan.

As for suggestions that this forum is not interested in non-Anglo-Saxon perceptions and experiences, your point about the English speaking preponderance on this board is very apt indeed. It's one reason why the work of someone like Margaret is so much appreciated. There's fruitful work being done in non-English speaking nations - Belgium, France, etc., and those of us who don't have access to these sources are keen to see the results. Personally I'd like to see primary material from all those languages and cultures that I cannot access because of geographic and language barriers - the Middle-East, Eastern Europe and Asia in particular.

Phil G - Lol! ISPs are magical things...even when someone uses one they don't access often.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Hello Inger,
hope the baggage catches up with you. In my experience something will be missing, but I understand it is transported in containers now, so maybe your books and papers will be intact. Here's hoping. Yes, it's interesting, isn't it? There must be quite a few relatives of 3rd class Titanic survivors in the USA who came from the Middle East, eastern Europe and Asia - all of whom must be American citizens who speak English fluently and are probably impeccably middle-class now. And yet, they seem hard to find. They must have stories to tell. Or maybe their grandparents simply didn't tell the story -maybe their lives were hard enough after they landed that family folklore was more concerned with learning the language, finding somewhere to live, getting a job etc.?
 
Dec 12, 1999
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It’s amazing how my posts have such a “coat-tail” effect. Well, Phil Hind, so I’m “intolerant,” and “angry.” C’mon, are you blind? Look at the rest of these guys. Gowan says I’m “stupid,” and calls me “cutie.” Others tell me I’m “ignorant,” or worse. You tell me, Phil Hind, who really is “angry” and “intolerant”? Your Titanica clique, or me?

In any event, I fully stand by my position here. Racism may not be excused on the basis that it happened in a different time frame. The people who were the victims of racism didn’t like it then, and don’t like it today.

Further, racism still exists today, and flourishes in England and the United States. I don’t buy into the board members’ self-serving view that racism or racial bias doesn’t exist here, on this board, or in our perspective on the Titanic disaster.

This is exactly the point that the author of the article tried to dispel, which all our distinguished members seem to have ignored. She says, "then and now":

But as on the Carpathia in April 1912, so in the years that followed the disaster, no Westerner had much interest in the lone Japanese. Hosono’s story, written as a private letter and not for public consumption, vividly illustrates how human reactions to a tragedy resemble each other across cultures and races. Nevertheless, Western perceptions of the Japanese still focus on that which separates “them” from “us.” Masabumi Hosono’s version of the night may not shed new light on the events in the mid-Atlantic in April 1912. His fate, however, and that of his story say a great deal about Western attitudes toward Japan then and now.

I’m beginning to think that Stephen Biel had the right idea. You know, some of this Board membership, and a few of the comments made above, altogether remind me of the Titanic, which sits on the bottom of the Atlantic, still a mystery, and quickly disintegrating. Pretty soon, hopefully, there won’t be any Titanic left. Likewise, the people who coat-tail my posts will fudge around with their personal attacks, acting like "cuties" themselves, whenever someone takes a position contrary to their own, not truly understanding anything about the Titanic disaster, and just re-interpreting and reinforcing their own narrow perspectives, until, within a short time, they will wake up and have found that there is nothing left there on the Atlantic's bottom, to understand.
 

Inger Sheil

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It’s amazing how my posts have such a “coat-tail” effect.
I suppose on one level it is remarkable how so many people, of such diverse ages, cultures, political beliefs and historiographical approaches can be unified in one thing - seeing through your smokescreen of polemical rhetoric and intellectual conceits. But then, given your blatant biases, I guess that's not overly remarkable at all.

Well, Phil Hind, so I’m “intolerant,” and “angry.” C’mon, are you blind? Look at the rest of these guys. Gowan says I’m “stupid,” and calls me “cutie.”

I think someone who doesn't realise that ISP's can be traced and then tries to bluff his way out by pretended ignorance on the 'Cutie' reference can very aptly described as 'stupid'.

Others tell me I’m “ignorant,” or worse. You tell me, Phil Hind, who really is “angry” and “intolerant”? Your Titanica clique, or me?

Well, I'm the one that called you 'ignorant', and in the context of my statement I stick by it. This is what I wrote:

"once more demonstrates his ignorance of the diversity of the socio/cultural/political spectrum that makes up this board."

You kicked off with a declaration that this board would not be 'sympathetic' to the articles perspective on Hosono, because - as you characterised it without exception - it was composed of a "conservative, fundamentalist board membership."

THAT is ignorance - or a deliberate decision to misrepresent the composition of this board. I've travelled the world and met many members of this board in person, and have found them to represent a great variety of political, cultural, religious and social viewpoints. To attempt to anticipate their response (and incorrectly anticipate it, by the way) based on your own biases demonstrated ignorance and/or blinkered bigotry.

In any event, I fully stand by my position here. Racism may not be excused on the basis that it happened in a different time frame.

To state that historians or researchers are attempting to 'excuse' racism by placing historical attitudes in the context of their time demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of how historical studies work. Understanding how individuals acted according to their own set of cultural/religious/political prejudices and preconceptions is an essential part of understanding how and why people act as they do, whether one is an historian or an anthropologist. This does *not* involve condoning such attitudes - and it is a basic misunderstanding to suggest that it does.

As I've said before, how comfortable will we be with having our set of beliefs, customs, attitudes, political stances and understanding of cultural, race or gender issues judged by the beliefs and interpretations of individuals 90 years from now?

I’m beginning to think that Stephen Biel had the right idea.

Lol! I guess you're over the personal offense at you took at his writing that lead to one of the board's most unintentionally hilarious threads - 'Titanic Giant Killers'.

the people who coat-tail my posts will fudge around with their personal attacks

I'm amused that critical response to a contentious post, pointing out specifically the provocative statements and assumptions on your part, is now characterised as 'coat-tailing'. While it might be preferable from your point of view to be able to make unchallenged ex cathedra pronouncements comprised of gross generalisations about the abilities, characters and even the socio-political orientation of the people who make up this board, I think you'll find that you won't lack challengers among the ranks of folks who come from a very broad range of belief, experience, age, race and culture.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Speaking of ingnorance, I have no idea what a 'cutie' is... one impression I do get, though, flitting on and off this Board, is how many US attorneys there are, and how very assertive they are. Jan, Tom etc. I suppose the assertiveness comes with the territory. You have to be a fighter to put backbone into vacillating clients, sway juries etc., and I don't mind being cross-examined on messageboards. The ego is a different matter though. The 'coat-tailing' remark, Jan, was definitely a mistake, and a very funny one. Visions of you, the cerebral freedon-fighter striding out ahead, with the dim and prejudiced saddo's scrabbling behind. And your assertion that 'racism may not be excused because it happened in a different timeframe' is non-sensical. Only people can be excused or forgiven, not events, so refusing to excuse dead people is simply daft. I suppose you mean that we should learn from historical injustices, and amen to that. But I am very wary of idealists who accuse others of racism - they are so often found wanting themselves, and end up having an effect exactly opposite to the desired one. Here in the UK there is an upsurge in English patriotism, which the Gov and media find alarming. This is after decades of the English being made to feel they should apologise for various events in history and being accused of racism by the Welsh, Scots, Indians, Africans etc.; the slave trade (ably abetted by African chiefs who sold their subjects to the equally culpable Arab traders who brought them to the coast; the Empire (though much of it was won by the Scots; the oppression of the Scots and Welsh by monarchs (though they haven't been English since Before Henry VII in the 15th century)...I could go on but I won't. Hardly suprising there might be a backlash by the fed-up, fuelled by the fact that the Scots and Welsh get their own Parliaments but the English don't. You're rich and secure, you can afford to claim the high moral ground. Poorer or more insecure people can't, and what happened to Hosono in his own country is far more illuminating than deriding a bunch of 2nd class passengers on a ship who'd never even seen a Japanese before, in all probability, and did what people have always done in the face of the unfamiliar. Ignored him. Now, the failure of Titanic archives to properly represent the histories of non-white passengers, if indeed it does, is something we can act upon (as Margaret has) and if we failed to do that, yes, it might be inexcusable in research terms .... but would it necessarily be racism?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>It’s amazing how my posts have such a “coat-tail” effect. Well, Phil Hind, so I’m “intolerant,” and “angry.” C’mon, are you blind? Look at the rest of these guys. Gowan says I’m “stupid,” and calls me “cutie.” Others tell me I’m “ignorant,” or worse. You tell me, Phil Hind, who really is “angry” and “intolerant”? Your Titanica clique, or me?<<

You are, Jan. I hate to be the one to mention this, but so far, the only one who's trying to make an issue of the race thing or look for reasons to be offended is you. Frankly, I never enquired as to the racial or cultural background of anyone here, nor do I give the south end of northbound rat about it. I do care a great deal about what people bring to the board in matters of knowledge, and insights into history. In short, it's what they do with the gray matter between their ears that counts in my book.

The rest is irrelevant nonsense.

>>Racism may not be excused on the basis that it happened in a different time frame. The people who were the victims of racism didn’t like it then, and don’t like it today.<<

And yet they seem to have done it to each other with quite a bit of enthusiasm, haven't they? I don't recall saying it was excusable. What I did say was;
Jeremy, I'm not sure it would have occured to them to give it a lot of thought. Quite a few of the attitudes extant at the time would certainly be offensive by our standards, but back then, these attitudes were accepted as "The way things are." They knew nothing of future sensibilities, had no way of knowing and would have cared less.
Now, where did I say it was excusable? And when you get right down to it, who...back then...would have cared anyway? They knew nothing of future judgements and to intject our own moral judgements on people of a bygone age is simply anachronistic.

You cannot change what happened Jan. As Popeye might say, "They wuz what they wuz, right or wrong." The most you can hope to do is understand it.

And on matters of ad hominum attack, Jan...who was it that tried to paint this entire boards membership with so broad a brush when he said;
Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find many white guys or women sympathetic to your perspective on Hosono, among this conservative, fundamentalist board membership.
because it sure as hell wasn't me.

When you start out with such a sweeping condemnation, you hardly have cause to take offence when the people you attack speak up in their own defence.
 

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