With all that’s known about WWII, “Of Civil Wrongs & Rights: The Fred Koematsu Story” proves there’s still more to learn. Most people today admit it was wrong to round up and rob thousands of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, but this well-told tale of one young man’s legal fight against the clearly unconstitutional move makes fascinating new fare for court TV, history channels and many other cable venues.
Like many native-born men of Japanese ancestry, San Fran resident Fred Korematsu was ready to fight the Good War when he became victimized by it. With his family facing relocation orders, the GI-age lad flat-out refused to go, even visiting a plastic surgeon to alter his appearance. When he got caught and continued to argue — much to the annoyance of go-along-to-get-along ethnic leaders — the ACLU stepped in and took his case to the Supreme Court. The supposedly liberal bench caved in to military pressure — leaving laws on the books, pic successfully argues, that could still threaten liberty in a time of crisis. Korematsu eventually got a small legal victory, and a hug from President Clinton, but the straightforward, smoothly made “Civil Wrongs” doesn’t have a totally happy ending.