Noting that the image of Japanese Americans as a “model minority” reflected a conservative vision of citizenship that excluded other racial and foreign language minorities from civic participation, this article traces the careers of California’s two most prominent Nisei of the postwar period, Judge John Aiso and Senator S. I. Hayakawa. Both of them established careers based on language arts. Although Aiso had experienced a multiculturalist background and Hayakawa an assimilationist education, both voiced right-wing opposition to bilingual education and racial identity politics by citing the self-achievements of Japanese Americans.

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