The Japanese Internment, CAIR, and Me
by Daniel Pipes
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My column today, "Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters," reports on Michelle Malkin's book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror (Regnery) and its challenge to the revisionist view of the ethnic Japanese internment during World War II. What I do not mention there, but note for the record here, is my own cameo appearance in the introduction to her book, on p. xx, where Malkin discusses how the "ethnic grievance industry and civil liberties Chicken Littles" have shut down rational discussion of her topic:
Malkin has it right. The incident began on April 9, 2003, when I gave an interview to Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now," the radical left's most prominent U.S. program. Amy Goodman, the host, and I were talking about my usual Middle Eastern and Islamic issues when she, out of the blue, 12:26 minutes into the discussion asked me, "Did you support, do you now, looking back on the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II?" Startled, I replied, "It's not a subject I know enough about to talk about."
CAIR, thick in its campaign against my nomination to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, tried, without success, to use this statement of mine to incite the Japanese American Citizens League against my nomination. In retrospect, given that CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper was on the same "Democracy Now" program as I was, I suspect that Hooper fed the question to Goodman.
(That would not be the first time CAIR had apparently planted a question about me. For example, I have a videotape of the press conference it held in Davie, Florida, on October 24, 2003, conducted by its Florida head, Ahmed Bedier. Titled "Muslims Demand Probe of Floridian with Terror Ties," the event had nothing to do with me until the very end, when Bedier asked of his tiny audience, "Is there anything else?" To which, a CAIR ally and shill replied with a long question about my recent appointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace. Bedier then provided a long and inaccurate answer about my appointment.)
This attempt at ambushing me on the radio not only failed to derail my nomination, but it also failed in a larger sense, for it provoked my curiosity about the Japanese internment and prompted me to read Malkin's book. Now, should anyone ask the same question Goodman did, I can knowledgeably reply: Yes, I do support the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II because, as Malkin shows, "given what was known and not known at the time," the U.S. government made the correct and sensible decisions. (December 28, 2004)
Dec. 29, 2004 update: The response to this column prompts two clarifying comments from me: (1) I am encouraged by the results of the Cornell survey because it means that many Americans understand the need to focus on the segment of the population that is engaged in Islamist activities; I do not specifically endorse its notion of Muslims having to register their whereabouts.
(2) I raised the subject of the Japanese internment because it "still matters" in its influence on the U.S. public debate, and not because I advocate the internment of anyone today.
In this connection, during a boisterous meeting of U.S. Civil Rights Commission in July 2002, commission member Peter Kirsanow advised Arab and Muslim Americans to complain less about the civil rights restrictions that help protect the country from terrorism. Should these efforts fail and mega-terrorism by Arabs again struck the United States, he warned, "you can forget about civil rights" because "the public would be less concerned about any perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting their own lives." He predicted "a groundswell of public opinion" might lead to Arab-Americans placed in internment camps, as happened to Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Kirsanow, former head of the Center for New Black Leadership, explained that he personally did not support such camps and was merely speculating. In fact, he later declared himself "adamantly opposed to the concept" of internment.
But this distancing did not protect him from a groundswell of outrage. Politicians, Japanese-American lawyers, and self-styled civil rights groups, demanded his removal from the Civil Rights Commission, a federal government institution. The commission itself even attacked Kirsanow.
Kirsanow's experience illustrates (a) how toxic is any discussion of the Japanese internment issue and (b) how directly events of sixty years ago bear on current counterterrorism issues. Which is why Malkin wrote her book and I wrote my column about it.
Dec. 31, 2004 update: I correct the record vis-à-vis the calumnies spread by Juan Cole on the subject of the Japanese internment and its applicability today at "Department of Corrections (of Others' Mistakes about Me)," under today's date.
Jan. 5, 2005 update: I have experienced an onslaught of abusive attacks from the Left as a result of my column on the Japanese internment; Michelle Malkin herself reviews and comments on some of these today in a weblog entry, "In Defense of Daniel Pipes."
July 19, 2005 update: I tell the story today, at "[The Canadian Islamic Congress:] An Islamist Apology," of how I won a retraction from the Canadian Islamic Congress for its inaccurate depiction of my position vis-à-vis the interning of Muslims.
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