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A WWII Anniversary Americans Would Rather Forget

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It was a very hard part of history for every country. I think it's important to mention that there was an exclusion zone on the west coast set up and people of Japanese ancestry were offered the choice to move out of that zone before they were moved to internment camps. Also in fairly recent history (within the last 30 years or so) Ronald Reagan the current US President at the time apologized for the internment of the Japanese. I feel this is so often missed when these discussions come up.
 

nice gaijin

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There was almost zero notice given, and as a result, billions of dollars were essentially stolen from American citizens because they belonged to a group identified as the "enemy." They were told they were being moved to the camps for their own safety, but the guards and fences weren't there to keep anyone out...

A black mark on our history, but it's especially important to look back and reflect on the mistakes of our past, lest we are doomed to repeat them. Willful ignorance of the bigotry and inhumane treatment of minority groups is exactly what has led to our Cheeto-in-Chief's idiotic executive orders.

Some Americans may wish to forget Executive Order 9066, but not me. Never forget, and never stop resisting.
 

Mike Cash

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our Cheeto-in-Chief's
I feel pretty sure the forum made it through eight years of the previous administration without dipping to disparaging remarks based on the physical appearance of its chief. Am I mistaken? Let's try to maintain a modicum of decorum, shall we?
 

nice gaijin

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I suppose I should instead focus on his hateful rhetoric, unwillingness to address the rise of anti-semitism and racist incidents emboldened by said rhetoric, laundering of taxpayer money by jetting to Mar-a-Lago every weekend where he discusses national security matters in full view of his rich friends who are now essentially paying for access to whitehouse staff, determination to run a perpetual re-election campaign a month into his first term, his rollback to reagan-era abortion restrictions, paving the way for private federal prisons, dismantling environmental protections and installing a man who is a friend of the fossil fuel industry and intends to weaken or dismantle the EPA at its head, installing a billionaire (whose fortune was built on pyramid schemes) who knows nothing about education (and intends to use vouchers to funnel funds into private christian schools as an end-run around the separation of church and state) as the secretary of education, installing an oil baron with close ties to Russia as the secretary of state, installing a man who colluded with Russia as his secretary of defense, and accepts no accountability for parroting false claims as truth. His completely misguided directives cause real panic and suffering for native populations (for whom he has expressed great disdain), protestors, members of the LGBTQ community and immigrants populations regardless of their legal status. But I guess that's what they always meant by "making America Great again."

Insulting his appearance is the kindest thing I have to say about this guy. He's completely incompetent and not just an embarrassment, he's a threat to the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. I sincerely apologize to the Frito-Lay corporation for drawing such a comparison, a bag of cheetos would be a far better president.

I'll avoid mentioning his appearance and focus on the horrendous actions that are unfolding under this administration.
 
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Make no mistakes guys I'm not trying to justify it by any means but WWII was a very hard time. There was major military R&D going on in the west. I'm very confident in saying that if our R&D was leaked it could have altered history for centuries or even millennia to come. I just feel it's boiled down to "hey let's look at how racist America was 70 years ago" and I don't feel that's an accurate representation of my country at the time.
 

Mike Cash

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I just feel it's boiled down to "hey let's look at how racist America was 70 years ago" and I don't feel that's an accurate representation of my country at the time.
Explain it in light of the absence of American citizens of German ancestry not facing the same treatment and you'll have a better chance of making a case of it being anything but racist.
 
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Germans had a much larger established history in America at that time. During the 1800s a lot of Germans immigrated to the United States mostly to the mid-west and coastal regions and in large numbers. Where as the Japanese had only a few generations that lived in America at the time in any significant numbers. Germans would have been separated from Germany by 4 to 6 generations whereas most Japanese in America at that time were 1st to 3rd generation immigrants at the time. Giving them a stronger connection to their homeland. I'm not going to say no racism was involved in the decision simply that it's not as clear cut as most people put it out to be.
 

Mike Cash

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You do realize that your explanation boils down to "It was excusable because their citizenship was lesser than the citizenship of the German-Americans"....right?

There aren't different classes or degrees of American citizenship based on length of pedigree, nor are the rights of American citizens on a sliding scale depending on seniority.

The relocation was unconstitutional, racist, wrong, and indefensible.
 
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Explain it in light of the absence of American citizens of German ancestry not facing the same treatment and you'll have a better chance of making a case of it being anything but racist.
I was simply answering your question. I was trying to explain the reasoning behind what you asked about. I didn't say it was justified. If I were the president or congress or whoever at the time I'm not sure I would have voted against it though. I'm simply saying the connections of the Japanese to Japan in America at the time were stronger than the ties of the group you asked about the Germans to Germany.
 

Mike Cash

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If I were the president or congress or whoever at the time I'm not sure I would have voted against it though.
Do they even still teach basic civics in American schools anymore?

Presidents don't vote on legislation. Not that it matters, because this wasn't an issue brought about through legislative action anyway. It was an executive order and one which went against the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Nobody voted for the forced relocation. It was never subject to a vote.

I'm simply saying the connections of the Japanese to Japan in America at the time were stronger than the ties of the group you asked about the Germans to Germany.
Which has what to do with it?

American liberties attach to the individual, not to their ethnic origin and how many generations it goes back. The newly naturalized citizen who has one millisecond ago finished uttering the oath administered upon receiving citizenship has equal claim to the full protection of his individual liberties as does the oldest person alive who can trace his ancestors back to the Mayflower; there is no distinction between them.

Are you at all familiar with the long history of racist immigration laws at the national level and racist land laws at the state level aimed at Asians in general and Japanese in particular? And that they were fresh and in effect at the time of the forced relocation? There is no room whatsoever for doubt that the program was built on a foundation of racism.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_land_laws

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Alien_Land_Law_of_1913

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Act_of_1924

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyama_v._California

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozawa_v._United_States

Hell, the legislation which finally got around to apologizing for the forced relocation even says straight up that it was based on racism and not military necessity. What more do you want?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Liberties_Act_of_1988

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_on_Wartime_Relocation_and_Internment_of_Civilians

By the way....

There were over a half-million fresh German immigrants to the United States in just the twenty years from 1920-1940. A number far exceeding the total Japanese-American population of all generations and who, by your reasoning, could certainly be expected to have stronger ties to Germany than second or third generation Japanese-Americans had to Japan. So why weren't they rounded up, forced into camps, and kept there by barbed wire and guards with rifles?

image-jpeg.24477
 
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nice gaijin

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You do realize that your explanation boils down to "It was excusable because their citizenship was lesser than the citizenship of the German-Americans"....right?
Sadly, I'd say that the non-Nikkei populations probably did feel that way; our country has a long history of treating immigrant populations horrifically in turn, which essentially stratified society into racial classes based on how "established" that immigrant population had become. Precisely because everyone got lumped together by their origins, people arranged themselves into siloed communities as they were more likely to be able to rely on "their own kind." People were encouraged to "stick to their own," and instead of coming together and caring for each other, each minority group was too busy scraping by for themselves to worry about how someone from another tribe was treated. This extends beyond racial lines as different interest groups have been reluctant to work together and collectively demand equal treatment and representation. While they may have been sympathetic to each others' causes, the black civil rights movement, native rights, women's rights, and the LGBTQ movements couldn't fully integrate even though their basic goals were the same, because the groups may have felt they had a better chance of getting what they wanted for themselves if they didn't attach others' demands to their own.

The other problem is that prejudice and stereotypes leads us to treat each immigrant population as if it were a super-organism, because it makes the situation feel simpler than it really is. The result of this informal caste system has stunted the true "melting pot" of America, and the persistence of "racial purity" movements.

In the case of Japanese internment, Japanese-Americans were especially subject to hateful rhetoric as the propaganda machine worked hard to dehumanize the Japanese themselves along both national and ethnic lines. For the reasons I mentioned above, not enough public outcry and organized opposition to the order was mounted to challenge it; or if it was challenged, not enough people went to bat for the Nikkei populations targeted. Once the entire ethnicity was dehumanized, it was easier to ignore the humanity of those that were being rounded up and having their rights violated. This is why it's important today to avoid speaking in platitudes about people of a particular national, cultural, ethnic or religious background, lest we doom ourselves to repeat our past mistakes. It's equally important to stand in solidarity of those marginalized minorities as it is to stand up for our own "tribe."
 
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nice gaijin

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A light-hearted illustration of how tribal stratification can lead to prejudices in an expat/immigrant population:
 
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Do they even still teach basic civics in American schools anymore?

Presidents don't vote on legislation. Not that it matters, because this wasn't an issue brought about through legislative action anyway. It was an executive order and one which went against the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Nobody voted for the forced relocation. It was never subject to a vote.
View attachment 24477
Yes I'm aware this is how it happened. Normally things go through the senate to be signed into law but they can be done via executive order like in this case. And I'm by no means saying it wasn't a racist action but one President saying the actions of another is racist is barely a good measure of that especially if they're from different parties. Which in this case they were (Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D)) issued the executive order and 3 Presidents apologized for it Gerald Ford (R), Ronald Reagan (R), George Bush Sr.(R)) whether or not they are correct in their assessment of it being racist they certainly had party motivation to call it such. In the United States for political parties the lines are often black and white as to how they treat the opposite party.

Also the Japanese were not the only individuals facing internment they were simply the largest number. Italians also were interned for various reasons. Also the American understanding of the Japanese at the time was very different as they were a very different people in my opinion. The Japanese in Japan at that time had a very devout mindset to the Japanese government. Also as mentioned earlier most of the German population was outside of the exclusion zone prior to the executive order, as there is no way to know if they would be included in that order I'm not sure it's safe to assume they would have been if the distribution of population of those two nationalities had been the reverse.
 
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I have my own opinions on the matter. I don't feel my generation or the generation before mine should attempt to judge the actions of those that went through a World War. And as to the sentiment of hopelessness I've heard it before and I doubt it will be the last time I hear it. Just sharing my opinion on the matter.
 

Mike Cash

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Your opinion is based on an ignorance of civics, which you really should try to alleviate, and an apparent inability to understand that regardless of generation it is fundamentally wrong to deprive American citizens of the full benefit and protection of the rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution.

You say "Italians" were interned. That is true. Those were Italian citizens. There were also many Germans interned... German citizens.

You can't simply gloss over the subsequent finding that it was recognized as having been wrong by painting it as simply some Republican presidents trying to make a Democrat look bad. That is just naive in the extreme. Read the following; it isn't long:

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians | Densho Encyclopedia

It wasn't just some Republican presidents waking up one day with a wild hair up their aśś to make points by crapping on FDR. Take it from someone who was alive during all this: there was opposition to it and it wasn't a popular thing to do at the time. It would be an action perfectly in tune with your generation, but race-based anti-Japanese sentiment (without making a distinction between "Japanese" or "Japanese-American") was very much alive and well at the time the report came out and the apologies were made. We're talking about a time when the WWII generation was very much alive and still with us and loooong before anybody in America had ever heard of Japanese cartoons or comic books or been charmed by Pikachu.
 
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I'm aware that it was a different time. I think it's mean spirited to boil down my opinion as simply lack of understanding of civics. I'm aware of the different race-based anti-Japanese and other anti-other nation sentiments in our history. Anti-Irish would be a good example during the early turn of the last century. I simply think it's easy for either party to write off the actions of another as racist, narrow minded, short sighted etc. I think the protection of all American citizen overwrote the worries of protecting the rights of a smaller number of American citizens. Was it right? By no means. I think it's an oversimplification of the issue to just boil it down to "racism" and no additional thought on the issue. Certainly if it was simply racism we would have treated them like the Germans did the Jewish people. Facilities weren't by any means state of the art it was a rushed and underfunded project but I bet you any amount of money any Jewish person in a German camp would have sold their soul to live in any one of the facilities where we interned the Japanese.
 

Mike Cash

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I think it's mean spirited to boil down my opinion as simply lack of understanding of civics.
If you don't want your understanding of basic American civics questioned, then don't air your deficiencies in that area in public.

You have, whether through ignorance or through poor wording, given the impression that you think the president votes on legislation and that you either have no knowledge or awareness of the distinction between the Senate and the House or that you are unaware that legislation may be introduced in either body and that you think an executive order is just a substitute for legislation.

Certainly if it was simply racism we would have treated them like the Germans did the Jewish people.
Right....because logically racism always leads to organized large scale attempts at genocidal extermination.

I wondered how long it would be before Godwin's Law kicked in.

Godwin's law - Wikipedia

Well....I suppose as long as we use the behavior of Nazi Germany as our moral yardstick then we can hardly help but come up looking good by comparison.

"We were bad but we were better than Hitler" is a position I would find it hard to comfort in or to offer as ex post facto justification.

I think it's an oversimplification of the issue to just boil it down to "racism" and no additional thought on the issue.
I think the committee could have done that on a Post-It note.

I think it is an oversimplification of the issue to be so dismissive of a nine member committee, the testimony of 750 witnesses, and the findings in a 467 page unanimous report as to characterize it as "just boil it down to racism" and "no additional thought on the issue".
 
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I think it's obvious we'll never agree on the issue. I however would like to say it's not something we should wish to forget. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana. Even if the title wasn't meant as truly meaning that The United States wishes to forget the event I think it's important to remember that quote because it rings so true especially to events we do not wish to repeat.
 
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I saw George Takei (Star Trek fans will remember him) speaking on the issue on CNN yesterday. There's an interesting commentary authored by him on the days when his family was interned:
Although a fan of the original Star Trek and against what happened to his family and others during the internment George unfortunately had made various statements which are historically incorrect in regards to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Take for instance his statements that the bombs were dropped on innocent civilians. A recent account from a Japanese woman who was school at the time of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima clearly states what her class was doing at the time - making airplane parts for the war effort.

I am curious as to why George has nothing to say about the Japanese military forcing civilians, including teenager, to fight for them on Okinawa, in addition to Japanese civilians killed by Japanese troops so they could not surrender and thus cause personal shame, or the civilians who killed themselves because they had been brainwashed for years.
 
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Presidents don't vote on legislation.
Technically they do. They can veto legislation. Congress then has the power to override the veto if they have enough votes. The president can also can chose not translate the legislation into action physical actions by the executive branch or the president can fail to enforce such legislation.
 
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