“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust … We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” — Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court
With recent Day of Remembrance observances calling to mind Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, it is important to note that the document that triggered the mass removal of all persons from the West Coast of the United States did not actually specify any race or ethnic group and, therefore, could have applied to any group.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s E.O. 9066 allowed the secretary of war to establish restrictive military zones and exclude anyone deemed capable of espionage or who might threaten America’s national defense.
Inevitably, the takeaway from DOR commemorations warns that what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II “must never happen again.”
While there are those who take this warning to heart, others shrug it off. Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump told Time magazine on Dec. 8, 2015 that he does not know whether her would have supported or opposed the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. “I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer.”
Following that logic, he would have had to be around during the Civil War to determine whether he would have supported or opposed slavery.
Pressed numerous times during an MSNBC appearance on Feb. 15 to say whether or not internment violated American values, Trump refused to respond.
Far more frightening than Trump himself are his legion of fans, or The Walking Dread. Whether Trump wins or loses the nomination, the Trumplicans will still be around. The average Trumplican is in favor of a Muslim ban and, in fact, wants to make Islam illegal. They are also against the Black Lives Matter movement.
Some 32 percent of them think the wartime internment of Japanese Americans “was a good idea,” the Public Policy report found. Another 35 percent had no opinion, and the remaining 33 percent said they would have opposed internment.
However, before we give the Trumplicans too much credit, you should know that 41 percent said that they were in favor of bombing Agrabah. Unfortunately, Agrabah is the fictional country from Disney’s “Aladdin.”
According to a new poll conducted by Public Policy, the majority of Trump supporters are white (90 percent) and never went college. About 82 percent support Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, compared to 54 percent of the Republican Party. Forty-one percent would like to see the mosques torn down; while 36 percent believe Islam should be illegal in the U.S.
The average Trumplican opposes the Black Lives Matter movement. “I mean, it seems like we really go overboard to make sure all these nationalities nowadays and colors have their fair shake of it, but no one’s looking out for the white guy anymore.”
We now know that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had been compiling lists of Japanese, Germans, and Italians many months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hoover was able to do this with the help of paranoid elected officials at the state and federal levels and duplicitous moles in each community. Within hours after the bombing, the FBI arrested Japanese, Italians, and Germans up and down the Pacific coast of the U.S. Monterey was a predominantly Italian fishing community until FBI agents seized the boats, froze their bank accounts, and cut the fisherman off from their livelihoods.
The same things happened to Germans living in California on Dec. 7. The men were arrested, and their families were left without any means of support. The U.S. declared war on Italy on Dec. 11. More than 600,000 Italians without U.S. citizenship and 11,000 Germans were declared to be “enemy aliens.”
There were approximately 1.2 million persons of German descent living in America during the war. Italian and German prisoners were often moved from one camp to another in desolate places in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Montana, and Texas. Some were held for as long as two years.
The number of Japanese Americans that were incarcerated, of course, was much larger. The mass removal of Issei and Nisei was possible due primarily because they were more easily identified and fewer in number than the Italians and Germans.
Trump’s grandfather, Frederick, was an immigrant from Germany, who arrived in the U.S. in 1885. His mother, Mary Anne, was born in Scotland in 1912.
When we talk about what happened to JAs and consider what could befall Muslims in the current political climate, it is important for all Americans to remember that, yes, mass removal and incarceration based on race, religion or just about anything else could happen again…to anyone.
Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Rafu Shimpo or its management. Comments and/or inquiries should be directed to [email protected]