The "Good War"

In the years after World War I, the United States fell into the Red Scare of 1919-1920. Following upon the Russian Revolution, a series of terrorist bombings in the United States set off a national panic against “radical” elements who were seen as threatening to overthrow the government. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer established the General Intelligence within the Bureau of Investigation and appointed a young J. Edgar Hoover to lead the charge. Hoover unleashed a horde of undercover informants and he and Palmer then launched a series of raids in which thousands of aliens were indiscriminately rounded up and arrested for suspected radical
activities. More than a thousand of these individuals were quickly deported.

By 1921, the nation began to come to its senses and increasingly realized that it had grossly overreacted both during World War I and the Red Scare. In 1922, Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone reined in Hoover and warned of the dangers of “secret police.” By 1923, all persons who had been convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 had been released from prison. Thereafter, they were all granted amnesty on the premise that the nation had violated their rights under the First Amendment. From the mid-1920s to the early 1930s, free speech was increasingly celebrated in the United States by the press, educators, civil libertarians, and political leaders as a fundamental American value.

Pressure on this new consensus soon began to build, however, as new radical voices began to be heard during the Depression from both the left (the Communist Party of the United States) and the right (the German-American Bund). By the late 1930s, government investigating committees had begun to look into these new “subversive” organizations.

Then, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Unlike World War I, the enemy had directly attacked the United States. The public rallied to the nation’s its defense. Prior calls for isolationism disappeared after Pearl Harbor, and there was almost no dissent during the “Good War.” (If you’re interested in the dissent that did exist during World War II, and especially the government’s prosecution of “Nazi sympathizers,” see pages 252-280 in Perilous Times.)

The major civil liberties issue in World War II arose out of the internment of 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, representing 90% of all American citizens of Japanese ancestry. It is useful to compare how the United States dealt with individuals of German and Italian ancestry. All German and Italian citizens who were in the United States during World War II (that is, citizens of those nations) were reviewed by the FBI and military authorities. If they were determined to
be dangerous to the national security, they were detained. If they were found not to be dangerous (as was the case for the vast majority), they were allowed to remain in the U.S. under relatively modest restrictions. Of course, no effort was made to round up American citizens of German or Italian origin.

In the weeks after Pearl Harbor, there was no call for the internment of persons of Japanese ancestry. But gradually (false) rumors spread along the West Coast about planned espionage and sabotage, and against a background of long-standing hostility to persons of Asian descent, many citizens became increasingly alarmed and angry about having to live near people who looked like the enemy and might share their aims. When asked why Japanese-Americans should be treated differently from German and Italian Americans, California Attorney General Earl Warren explained that it’s possible to tell a loyal German or Italian from a disloyal one, but that such a determination was simply not possible with those of the Japanese race.

As the clamor for internment grew, it was fed by opportunistic politicians and hysterical newspaper accounts. General DeWitt, who was in charge of the United States’s Western Command, finally recommended that all persons of Japanese ancestry, including American citizens, should leave their homes and be relocated to
concentration camps.

Although J. Edgard Hoover vehemently opposed this recommendation on the ground that it was unnecessary, excessive, and entirely the product of public hysteria, and Attorney General Francis Biddle opposed it as unconstitutional and immoral, FDR nonetheless issued Executive Order 9066 in February 1942. Under this order, all persons of Japanese ancestry in California, Arizona, Washington and Oregon, men, women, and children, regardless of age, were ordered to abandon their possessions (except those they could carry) and were transported to “internment” camps, where they remained behind barbed wire for almost three years. Why did FDR do this? Certainly, it was not because there was a military necessity. Rather, it was a political decision. FDR did not want to lose the support of the western states in the 1942 congressional elections.

So, here’s a question for you: Suppose the United States is hit with six terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 in the next three weeks. Suppose some of the terrorists are foreigners and some are American citizens who are Muslim. Suppose the Bush administration
orders the detention of all non-citizen Muslims in the United States and the temporary detention of all Muslims who are citizens of the United States, at least to determine which may pose a threat to the security of the nation. Would you support this? Can you distinguish it from the World War II internment?

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26 Responses to The "Good War"

  1. Fernando says:

    The interment of American-Japanese during WWII was a shame. Fortunately our government surveillance can do more to monitor the activities of a given group without having to utilize the instrument of racial quarantine. In fact, under the Geof scenario we can begin to appreciate the application of the Patriot Act. Government surveillance can undergo in detail, without disrupting citizen conduct. However, Federal district judges would be swampt with would be allegations.

  2. if you remove the word “all”, this scenario unfortunately already happened after 9/11. the intelligence community, for whatever reason, detained a lot of innocent people, including citizens who are still detained and who were denied access to a lawyer, and the patriot act was passed without any consideration of elected congressmen, making a sham of what we call democracy. i don’t recall any overwhelming public outcry over this abuse of american citizens, no collective wisdom to defend the rights so clearly defined by our forefathers. i leave you with this entertainment:

  3. Max Lybbert says:

    Yeah, Brentmeister, and if you change the words “rounded up” with something else, you get a completely different sentence.

    And although Michael Moore made it clear that the Patriot Act, in its entirety was passed the same day it was submitted to Congress, he overlooked the debate that took place on the various issues in the Patriot Act that took place before the Act was written. Why else are parts of the Act set to expire? Who demanded that?

  4. There was a helluva lot of discussion about the various provisions of USA PATRIOT before it was passed and signed into law, especially the roving wiretap and library record provisions.

    But most of it simply takes established procedures for dealing with organized crime and applies them to national security. If this is such a huge assault on civil liberties, that should have been mentioned when the RICO and the child support enforcement laws were passed, but nobody in the civil liberties community cared.

    And Geof, the odds of a Great Muslim Internment in the US today are exactly zero.

  5. Eric Muller says:

    Geof, this is a great question you raise. I’m going to ponder it and blog about it early next week.
    In the meantime, though, I’ve posted a small correction to what I think is a clear inference from your post, concerning FDR’s motivation for signing EO9066.

  6. Brentmeister General says:

    hi max,

    please forget the distraction that is michael moore. here’s republican congressman ron paul:

    “It’s my understanding the bill wasn’t printed before the vote � at least I couldn’t get it. They played all kinds of games, kept the House in session all night, and it was a very complicated bill. Maybe a handful of staffers actually read it, but the bill definitely was not available to members before the vote.”

  7. gjs says:

    I wouldn’t support the wholesale internment of muslims. Suprisingly, I agree with the sentiments of J. Edgar Hoover, that such an action would be overbroad and ultimately ineffective, and would in the meantime seriously impinge on the constitutional rights of American citizens.

    Next, to distinguish the internment of muslims from the internment of Japanese citizens: whereas the Japanese internment program was based on a racial determination, an internment of muslims would be based on religious beliefs. This seems to create a somewhat novel legal question. Although the law is clear about making classifications based on race (equal protection says you can’t), I don’t think there’s any established law on making a classification based on belief system. So long as any government action doesn’t get in the way of the free exercise requirements of the first amendment, it seems like the government may — at this point anyway — get away with such an internment action.

    Kind of a spooky thought. But maybe there’s something more that would prevent this from happening?

  8. wjhopwood says:

    As a WWII veteran with a long memory, I thought your comments about the Japanese evacuation relocation were largely in line with the current conventional wisdom which, unfortunately, is somewhat short on facts and long on emotion about what actually happened and why.

    It should be cleared up at the outset that the relocated persons (approximately 110,000) to whom you referred were not “interned,” they were evacuated to War Relocation Authority camps from specific military areas on the West Coast. There were in addition, however, over 10,000 Japanese nationals who were interned by the Dept. of Justice (INS) after being arrested on security charges by the FBI, given individual hearings, and incarcerated in Dept. of Justice internment camps to await deportation.

    During the war an additional 5,000 Japanese-Americans who renounced their U.S. citizenship and asked to be expatriated to fight for Japan were also interned by the DOJ.

    The distinction between relocation and internment was basic and should be recognized. Those “interned” could not leave until paroled or deported. On the other hand over 33,000 of those relocated were granted clearance to leave for outside employment or to attend colleges.

    Treatment of ethnic Japanese differed from that of persons of German and Italian ancestry for several reasons: better assimilation, logistic impracticality, war production reasons, and the fact that our government had proof of espionage on the West Coast involving both resident Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans. We had been breaking Japanese diplomatic coded messages for more than a year prior to Pearl Harbor in which such activities were clearly revealed. One espionage group containing a number of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent was broken (the Tachibana ring) prior to hostilities.

    J.Edgar Hoover was not in the intelligence loop which had knowledge of the super top-secret code breaking called MAGIC. The information gleaned from that and other intelligence governed the decision to evacuate made by SecWar Stimson with authority by FDR to do what he thought best for military reaons.

    It is true that after Pearl Harbor there was a strong feeling against anyone Japanese particularly after the fall of Bataan and the Death March. The security of persons of Japanese heritage became a problem for the government and even the Japanese American Citizens League supported the government effort in the evacuation as being in ghe best interest of the Japanese themselves.

    Although General DeWitt is the latter-day scapegoat for ideologues who now condemn the wartime evacuation, the general was only a bit player in the final decision. Secretary of War Stimson, who feared invasion, together with Asst. Sec. War John J. McCloy made the actual decision and went to FDR for authorization. Some current revisionists have imagined that the decision to evacuate was entirely the result of the inherent racism of President Roosevelt–indeed one recent book, Greg Robinson’s “By Order of the President,” tries to make that point but in my view fails miserably to do so.

    As for the final question, in considering the circumstances as described and the similarity to that of the WWII Japanese situation. I would support the internment of Muslim non-citizens and the relocation or custody of Muslim citizens pending adequate screening if considered necessary for national security by proper authority.

    As the WWII Supreme Court ruled in a 1944 decision which stands to this day (Korematsu): “There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.”

  9. Geof Stone says:

    Reply to wjhopwood:

    Thanks for this very thoughtful comment. I disagree with your reading of history, but that’s the nature of the beast. A formal United States Commission, including a broad range of accomplished experts, came to a different set of conclusions, as did the Congress, the Ford and Reagan administrations, and several federal courts who reexamined the issue based on the full evidence available long after-the-fact. Moreover, although Korematsu has never been overruled, that is only for want of an opportunity. It has never been cited with approval for its result, it was deeply regretted by most of the Justices in the majority, and it has been condemned in the “court of history” as one of the blackest moments in the history of the Supreme Court.

    Geof Stone

  10. Bob says:

    Reply to Geof Stone:

    Regarding the commission cosider this:

    Consider that of the nine commission members, six were biased in favor of reparations. Ishmail Gromoff and William Marutani, relocatees themselves, sat in judgment of their own cases. Arthur Goldberg and Joan Bernstein made sympathetic, pro-reparation statements publicly before hearings even began. Arthur Fleming had worked closely with the JACL (he was a keynote speaker at its Portland convention in the ’70s). Robert Drinan was a co-sponsor of the bill establishing the commission.

    Consider that notices of when and where hearings were to be held were not made known to the general, non-Japanese public.

    Consider that witnesses who gave testimony were not sworn to tell the truth.

    Consider that witnesses who were pro-reparation were carefully coached in their testimony in “mock hearings” beforehand.

    Consider that witnesses against reparation were harassed and drowned out by foot-stomping Japanese claques, that the commission members themselves ridiculed and badgered these same witnesses.

    Consider that not one historian was asked to testify before the commission, that intelligence reports and position papers contrary to reparations were deliberately ignored.

    Consider that as a result of the above, the United States Department of Justice objected strongly to the findings of the commission.

    Lastly while we’ve all been educated on the doctrines associated with the rise of Nazism, I would be curious to know if courses are provided teaching the history of the doctrines of Japanese militarism, a belief system similar and equally as insidious as Nazism?

    Any clasess on the kokutai? Hakko Ichiu? Any reading of Kokutai no Hongi? Shimin to Michi? The role of Nichiren Buddhism and Japanese “Language Schools” in teaching these doctines of Japanese racial superiorty to ethnic Japanese colonies throughout the word prior to Pearl Harbor?

    Your disagreeing with Hopwood is fine. Let the historical scholars debate it out.

    Politicians are a completely different animal however, and for them decisions are made for entirely politcal reasons. Can anyone provide another instance where politicians have voted on America’s history and then provided taxpayer dollars to teach an “official” version of that history?

    The role of the legislature is to legislate, not re-educate.

    It’s a slippery slope and if it continues you scholars may find yourselves out of a job…

  11. Bob says:

    As for your comment, “several federal courts who reexamined the issue based on the full evidence available long after-the-fact.”

    The “full evidence” to which you refer is a January 26, 1942 memo written by Lt. Commander K.D. Ringle, deputy intelligence officer for 11th Naval District.

    This memo was the “newly discovered evidence” provided by AIKO HERZIG, husband of JOHN HERZIG.

    You may remember Aiko was the principal “researcher” for the CWIRC. Her husband John in a blatant conflict of interest appeared before the commission and attempted to slime David Lowman before Sam Hall reigned him in…

    So the “newly discovered evidence” that Aiko “found” that was used in the Coram Nobis cases of the 1980’s is this Ringle memo the pro-reparations (National Council on Japanese American Redress, who wanted to sue for $28 billion) lawyers submit to the court as exhibit “D” MINUS THE FEBRUARY 14, 1942 ONI COVER MEMO FROM RINGLE’S BOSS, H.E. KEISKER STATING “IT DOES NOT REPRESENT THE FINAL AND OFFICAL OPINION OF THE OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE ON THE SUBJECT.”

    The memo was also carbon copied for MID and two sections of the FBI.

    Thus, the memo was an unoffical document haveing no status whatsoever was not concealed, but on the contrary given wide distribution, did not represent the stated position of the ONI nor anyone else of any status in the military, and WAS IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH AN OFFICIAL ONI INTELLIGENCE REPORT AUTHORED BY LT. COMMANDER RINGLE HIMSELF LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LATER.

    That’s the story on the Ringle memo, and the “newly discovered evidence” the court received in the Corum Nobis cases….

  12. Konrad says:

    The question itself shows the unfortunate lack of public awareness about the domestic terror war. We’re already effectively used these kinds of tactics and they’ve failed abysmally.

    Anyone who’s read the Inspector General’s Report on the misnamed “9/11 investigation” knows that sweeping people up on the basis of suspicion rather than investigative work and holding them without charges “to determine which may pose a threat to the security of the nation” is a proven mistake that has not yielded a single bona fide terrorist. (only a single man, Karim Koubriti, was convicted of a terrorism-related crime, but this conviction was overturned in October 2004).

    Even someone who didn’t care about the human rights of Muslim citizens and immigrants, if they took the trouble to inform themselves and make a rational determination as to whether roundups make us safer, would realize they are a waste of resources.

    But in a nation where over 40% still believe some of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi, I’m afraid a majority of U.S. citizens could well support a “Muslim internment” if there were 6 terrorist attacks involving Muslims. I would not. “Hold until cleared” does not work.

  13. Fred says:

    You write “Certainly, it was not because there was a military necessity. Rather, it was a political decision.” I’m not even sure if this is obvious ex post, but it takes something approaching arrogance to state this must have been true ex ante.

    There are thousands of important decisions to be made in prosecuting a war, but just because you think after the fact some of them turned out to be mistaken is not a good enough reason to claim that those who made the decisions knew they were wrong at the time but made them anyway due to political considerations.

  14. W.J.Hopwood says:

    Response to Geof Stone:

    Thanks for your reasoned reply to my post. The most common response I get to my opinions on this subject are uninformed ad hominem attacks. But that goes with the territory in these days of political correctness when for some their current socio/political ideology gets in the way of wartime realities– be that with WWII or the present Muslim jihad against our country.

    I’m afraid I don’t share your view that the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) was composed of “accomplished experts.” Accomplished politicians would have been closer to the truth.

    As then Chief Army historian David F. Trask stated on June 20, 1984 of the CWRIC report : “To summarize…the purpose of the report does not seem to have been to present an historical account that meets professional standards ….I am simply unable to certify this brief as a credible piece of history.”

    And former Asst. Sec.War John J. McCloy later stated: “One must have experienced the manner in which the investigation of the Commission was planned and conducted to gain any sense of the basic unreliablilty of its procedure. Any attempt to justify the president’s action was greeted by boos and hisses in a manner disgraceful to any fair investigation or to our own legislative hearing traditions.”

    Congress was under intense political pressure from organized Japanese-American groups to pass legislation which included rewarding enemy aliens interned in accordance with law, along with others of similar dubious eligibility such as over 6,000 babies born under top conditions in relocation center hospitals and over 4,000 Japanese-Americans who spent the war years in colleges. The Congressional vote was not unanimous by any means but, as noted by “Bob” above, it passed anyway despite the Justice Department’s firm objection.

    And so the debate continues.

  15. Konrad says:

    Amidst the commission-bashing, scaremongering about the Japanese population, and trying to make the “evacuation” sound like a voluntary desert vacation, the principle Hopwood supports both in WW2 and in the hypothetical 6 attacks is that it’s acceptable to either detain or remove people based on their national origin rather than any evidence that an individual has been or could be a threat. I don’t.

    The second and indispensible point is whether such policies have served the purported purpose of preventing sabotage/espionage/terrorism. I’ve shown above that they have not post-9/11. And in the WW2 evacuation/internment the government relieved itself of any need to apprehend individual Japanese in a tangible act of sabotage/espionage, and — surprise! — there were none. Watch Bob/Hopwood cite this as evidence that the policy was effective.

  16. Max Lybbert says:

    Unfortunately I’m late.

    Brentmeister, I recognize that the Patriot Act was passed quickly. I also recognize that Congress debated the points of the Patriot Act for a while before compiling the thing. The complaints about the Patriot Act aren’t about where the commas were placed, or if “as” is used instead of “like,” but the very concepts of the Act. And those concepts were debated, and the congresspeople involved didn’t have to read things word-for-word. Remember, congresspeople were able to put time limits on a lot of the powers. How did they do that if they weren’t familiar with those powers?

    I dowloaded a copy of the Patriot Act and began reading it. I’ll tell you, even a large staff would take quite some time grokking the thing, since most of it is “Statue X is amended to include the sentence ‘yadda yadda’ after section 3c.”

    If Congress really was duped (instead of trying to pretend it was), why not pass new federal laws overturning the offending portions of the Patriot Act? There’s no need for a Constitutional Amendment.

  17. konrad says:

    The Patriot Act is largely a separate issue and people in general project their uninformed ideas on it. It doesn’t have anything to do with a hypothetical internment.

    People hold the Patriot Act responsible for the post-9/11 roundups, detentions and deportations of Muslim immigrants, but in fact the Patriot Act had very little to do with them. Virtually all of it made possible under preexisting “anti-terror” and immigration law and the discretion of the Attorney General.

  18. Rob says:

    If Congress really was duped (instead of trying to pretend it was), why not pass new federal laws overturning the offending portions of the Patriot Act?

    You know the answer. The Patriot Act serves the interests of those in power. It will not be overturned until they are no longer in power.

  19. Max Lybbert says:

    So, Rob, was Congress really duped? Or are we seeing the political equivalent of “the devil made me do it”? Something like “I voted for it, but I didn’t mean it (or, as Clinton’s press secretary said, “He has kept the promises he intended to keep”).

  20. anon says:

    Conspiracies and ill will spread by the communication of ideas, not by DNA or gluons, and social affiliations foster exposure and receptiveness toward ideas. If you live with the Hatfields, you’re liable to think ill of the McCoy’s and a rational non-bigoted police chief in McCoy-town would do well during times of feud to concern herself with the profile “Hatfields and affliliates.” It’s a matter of degree–how broad a category, how loose an affiliation, and cultural ignorance makes it easy for a police chief to go astray. Should we constrain ourselves from profiling all together just because of the intrinsic limits on knowledge? If nobody’s gotten shot lately, then perhaps, depending on the time and expense of enlightening our profiling efforts. But given a big enough potential harm (fusion bomb explodes in Manhattan) at a significant enough risk, we should profile. But we should devote the time and expense (meaning intelligence work) to conceiving useful profiles and weigh the harm of the profiling against the harm we are seeking to prevent.

  21. Brian says:

    Whether Japanese Americans were Interned, Incarcerated or Paroled made little difference. My grandparents had done nothing wrong, were naturalized American citizens, were “interned” to the middle of the Idaho desert and thrown into a shack that the wind blew threw where the ground was frozen and covered with snow in the winter, knee deep muddy during spring and fall and hot and dusty in the summer. Don’t forget the existence of barbed wire fences and machine guns in the corner towers.

    I don’t really care what you call it. Take any other American family and take away all their possessions and throw them away in the desert for 3 years and call it what you will, it’s not called justice. At least you can call this a mistake or error in judgement. There is no defense for it.

    Of course, at that time Japanese citizens weren’t allowed to own property, racism was rampant, and even most if not all newspapers were tuned to report the “Yellow Peril.” These were not proud times and if WJHopwood grew up then, his thoughts toward Japanese were probably not so positive.

  22. Bob says:


    Produce for me a picture of any barbed wire at Minidoka other than the three-strand cattle wire that served as a perimeter to the center and was routinely crossed.

    Produce for me a picture of the “guard towers” at Minidoka other than the one fire tower and the one water tower.

    Produce for me any evidence whatsoever that the government “took away” the possessions of any ethnic Japanese that was not paid back in the Evacuation Claims Act of 1948.

    It’s a shame you think your grandparents and their Japanese neighbors were the only people who suffered during the war, and it does little to produce any sympathy for the sufferings they endured.

    Rather than accuse Hopwood of being a racist why not have the courage to confront the darker chapters of your own history and acknowledge that many ethnic Japanese in the United States chose to remain loyal to the “old country”, the United States Government knew of this and took extraordinary measures during a time of war to ensure the security of all Americans….

  23. W.J.Hopwood says:

    Brian writes above:

    “These were not proud times and if WJHopwood grew up then, his thoughts toward Japanese were probably not so positive”

    I’d already grown up and was in the Navy by then and you’re right, after Pearl Harbor my thoughts toward Japanese were indeed “not so postitive.” Particularly when, along with the rest of America, I learned of the Japanese invasion of the Phillipines and how the resident Japanese there overwhelmingly welcomed the invading Japanese troops with wild enthusiasm.

    Could that have happened in the U.S. under the same circumstances? Who could have said no at the time? Who can say no now?

    So, Brian. I assume from your post above that your grandparents were relocated from the West Coast war zones because they were of Japanese ancestry, but how could they have been, as you say, “naturalized American citizens?” Japanese nationals could not naturalize until the law was changed 7 years after the war ended. Were they not Japanese nationals–enemy aliens?

    And as for your emotional hyperbole about the hardships of the relocation centers, you seem to have forgotten a few things: Namely that they had accredited schools, churches, hospitals, stores, newspapers, post offices, all types of sports and recreational programs, and, as the official photographer at Manzanar, Toyo Miyatake, said: “The barbed wire at Manzanar consisted of three strings of cattle-guard wire through which anyone could walk if he wanted to. But nobody wanted to.”
    In fact, many of the camp residents had never had it so good as some freely admitted it.

    And as for the alleged losses–Bob, in his post above, is quite right. Although the government confiscated nothing as you imply, but did everything possible to minimize losses, in the confusion of war some were unavoidable. However, after the war legitimate loss claims were settled in amounts up to $100,000 dollars with only 15 appeals ever being made. So where’s the beef?

    To sum up, Brian, times were tough for everybody during World War II but I can think of no group who has whined about their wartime experience more or has been treated better for it since then than the former resident Japanese enemy aliens and their families who were relocated from the war zones. Isn’t it about time they lay off?

  24. Irate Savant says:

    Greetings. So long as we’re discussing hypotheticals, I would like to propose thinking about your question this way:

    Suppose the United States is hit with six terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 in the next three weeks. Suppose some of the terrorists are foreigners and some are American citizens who are [your own religion or denomination]. Suppose the Bush administration orders the detention of all non-citizen [members of your own religion or denomination] in the United States and the temporary detention of all [members of your own religion or denomination] who are citizens of the United States, at least to determine which may pose a threat to the security of the nation. Would you support this, including your own detention?

    I would contend that only if you are willing to allow yourself to be interned for the actions of a few members of your own religion or denomination can you even begin to advocate such a detention for others.

  25. W.J.Hopwood says:

    Irate Savant:

    If you are trying to draw a meaningful comparison between your hypothetical situation and the reality of the circumstances surrounding the evacuation of Japanese from West Coast military areas in WWII, you must assume that the current government would have the same degree of intelligence about the potential for harm from unknown potential terrorists in our midst today as the WWII government had on the potential for harm which then existed from undetermined numbers of persons within the Japanese community. Such government actions do not occur in a vacuum, nor can they be publicly explained at the time. In the case of the WWII Japanese, it should be noted that only those in certain military zones were evacuated, and for good reasons now well-documented. Thousands of others living elsewhere were not disturbed at all.

    As to your personal question, had I been one of a relatively small group which harbored an undetermined number of unidentified persons who were legitimate suspects, I believe I would appreciate the need for a reasonable suspension of civil rights for the good of the nation until the identity of those among us who would do our nation harm could be ascertained. Indeed, in WWII many persons of Japanese ancestry did understand the situation and willingly cooperated in their own relocation as did the Japanese American Citizens League itself which urged all ethnic Japanese to support the government action. Now, decades later, after the movement resulting in reparations of $20,000 for each evacuee was initiated, a new generation of JACL leaders did an institutional 180 and saw the wartime action of its own leadership in a different light. I wonder why?

  26. Brian says:

    I don’t think anybody called anybody a racist except you, Bob. I said racism was rampant.

    Of course, being in the middle of a desert minimizes the need for barbed wire. Just how far were you going to go on your own two feet if you were miles away from anywhere.

    Bob, let’s face it. nobody suffered more in America than those families who lost fathers, sons, sisters and mothers to the war fighting. Nobody else measures up. You talked about suffering, I just said it wasn’t justice. Listen up.

    To think that internment camps were fair, government provided housing is contradicting history. And still not the point.

    Let’s throw your family in the desert and see how you like it. Take nothing but a single suitcase per family member. Leave everything else behind. Now if you don’t own property, where will you leave it behind? The government doesn’t have to take something for themselves, they just have to deny you to keep it.

    The point is, your freedom is being removed. Free room and board doesn’t matter, do you think? Accredited education doesn’t matter when you don’t get to choose the school best fit for you (sometimes by moving to a different community). Once again, freedoms are being removed. Try it, you won’t like it.

    Most of the posts here are simply trying to minimize the impact of the camps because they “weren’t so bad.” I’m trying to point out that regardless how “OK” they seem, they still remove liberties which all Americans are entitled to. I’m not here to argue semantics.

    Here’s a maximally stupid idea. Let’s make New York City a prison because I’m sure 1% of the people in the city are criminals of some sort. I’ll even bet there is one or two Al Quaida operatives somewhere in the city. Do you think anybody in New York City would mind? Would this be legal? I’m told they never rescinded the Executive Order which interned the Japanese Americans in the first place. So it’s still possible to relocate all Muslim Americans. Or whatever groups you may identify with.

    Have fun arguing.

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