The search engine operator Google changes the design of its main search web page, Google.com, from time to time to honor special events. The redesign is known as a "Google doodle." Today's "Google doodle" marks the 95th birthday of Yuri Kochiyama.
Officially, Google explains the situation as follows:
It's with great pleasure that Google celebrates Yuri Kochiyama, an Asian American activist who dedicated her life to the fight for human rights and against racism and injustice. Born in California, Kochiyama spent her early twenties in a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during WWII. She and her family would later move to Harlem, where she became deeply involved in African American, Latino, and Asian American liberation and empowerment movements. Today's doodle by Alyssa Winans features Kochiyama taking a stand at one of her many protests and rallies.
Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014.
Here is an interview Ms. Kochiyama did in 2003:
Kochiyama: As for imperialism, which is a policy of extending power and control, and usually by military force and hegemony, the government of the United States is the best example. Imperialism, terrorism and war go hand in hand. But it begins with capitalism, private ownership and profit-making....
[Interviewer]: I am curious, you talk about Osama bin Laden in the same phrase as Paul Robeson and in the larger context of talking about the US trying to thwart self-determination movements. Yet bin Laden is quite different from the folks you mentioned; he is a pretty rich guy whose rise to power was in many ways made possible by the US government, which can't really be said about the rest of the folks you mention. Why do you include bin Laden in this group of people? Also, do you think freedom fighters should support bin Laden? Finally, how would you respond to the argument put forth by some freedom fighters that bin Laden's agenda is more reactionary and does not really speak to the needs of the masses of people who exist under US dominance?
Kochiyama: I'm glad that you are curious why I consider Osama bin Laden as one of the people that I admire. To me, he is in the category of Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro, all leaders that I admire. They had much in common. Besides being strong leaders who brought consciousness to their people, they all had severe dislike for the US government and those who held power in the US. I think all of them felt the US government and its spokesmen were all arrogant, racist, hypocritical, self-righteous, and power hungry.
bin Laden may have come from a very wealthy family, but by the time he was twenty, he came to loathe the eliteness and class conduct of his family. But it was not a sudden break. Growth for anybody is not a sudden thing. We all develop gradually. After all, he was thrust by birth into a wealthy family. He tried to become a part of his family. However, he found too many differences between most of his family and himself. He did go through the usual experiences of being from a wealthy family; attending well-groomed colleges, meeting people in the circle of the "haves;" but what put him in another path was that he took the learning of Islam very seriously...
You asked, "Should freedom fighters support him?" Freedom fighters all over the world, and not just in the Muslim world, don't just support him; they revere him; they join him in battle. He is no ordinary leader or an ordinary Muslim. He may have once been surrounded with luxuries, but he adapted to the realities of a hunted "terrorist leader," living in caves and doing without modern commodities...He went through heaven and hell with his men...
You stated that some freedom fighters responded that bin Laden's agenda is more reactionary and does not speak to the needs of the masses of people who exist under US dominance. bin Laden has been primarily fighting US dominance even when he received money from the US when he was fighting in Afghanistan. He was fighting for Islam and all people who believe in Islam, against westerners, especially the US--even when he was fighting against the Russians...I do not care what the US government or Americans feel--I think it's shameful what this government has done from the beginning of its racist, loathsome history.
And today, when I think what the US military is doing, brazenly bombing country after country, to take oil resources, bringing about coups, assassinating leaders of other countries, and pitting neighbor nations against each other, and demonizing anyone who disagrees with US policy, and detaining and deporting countless immigrants from all over the world, I thank Islam for bin Laden. America's greed, aggressiveness, and self-righteous arrogance must be stopped. War and weaponry must be abolished.
To me, it's a disturbing shame and a disappointment that Google, a company that is a great example of how capitalism empowers people and enables upward mobility and freedom, would choose to honor an enemy of capitalism and an apologist and enthusiast for violent terrorism.