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Reader comment on item: Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters

Submitted by Bruce Lederman (United States), Dec 29, 2004 at 09:51

SIR/MADAM,

No reasonable person argues against the concept that in times of conflict nations must preserve their own viability. However, in a democratic nation, there should be some correlation relating to the intensity of the conflict, the scope of the threat, and the actions taken that impair the functioning of the democratic institutions we are attempting to preserve.

The only revisionism I can witness relating to the internment of Japanese civilians in the Second World War, is the neo-conservative attempt to justify this shameful moment in American history.

That two Japanese-Americans collaborated with a Japanese soldier, does not justify the internment of thousands of American citizens. Moreover, it should be no surprise that given the rapid anti-Japanese, racist rhetoric of the time, many hundred would voluntarily choose the relative "protection" of internment to the discriminatory (and in some cases life threatening) conditions many were subjected to after the War began.

Additionally, it is not surprising that the Japanese Imperial government considered using Japanese-Americans as a fifth column. However, that does not support the proposition that indeed any significant number of American citizens of Japanese decent were prepared to sabotage the U.S. war effort.

The violation of the civil rights of American citizens was not justified 60 years ago, and it is not justified today. It is one thing to suggest that we must treat those who visit our nation on a temporary visa with greater caution. However, it is far different, to suggest that an entire class of citizen should be discriminated against based soley on their status as a discrete minority. Our history and national character demands that we reject these subtle and not-so-subtle attempts at constraining constitutional protections.
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