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Japanese Internment Did Not Serve the Allied Cause

Reader comment on item: Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters

Submitted by Aaron Goldstein (United States), Dec 29, 2004 at 21:12

Dear Mr. Pipes,

Let me begin by stating that I read your articles on a regular basis and most of the time your analysis is spot on.

However, I must disagree with your praise of Michelle Malkin's book "In Defense of Internment".

I have read this book and have reviewed it. If interested you can read it on www.intellectualconservative.com, www.thefence.com or www.americandaily.com.

While Malkin is certainly correct that political correctness has hampered our ability to combat terrorism, specifically radical Islam, I do not believe a defense of the Japanese internment helps the great cause of our times.

Of the 112,000 Japanese that were evacuated, relocated and interned how many of them were actually in the service of the Japanese government?

Whatever the threat posed by a Japanese spy network in the United States how interning the elderly and children would break up such a network Malkin does not explain. Consider actor Pat Morita of Happy Days and the Karate Kid fame. Morita had been hospitalized nearly his entire childhood because of spinal tuberculosis and once released from hospital he was sent to an internment camp in Arizona barely able to walk. He was 11 years old at the time. Could someone please explain to me how Pat Morita represented a threat to the national security of the United States?

Malkin does a disservice by downplaying the racism and violence met by Japanese Americans even before the attacks of Pearl Harbor. Propaganda posters were already circulating with the "Jap Hunting License" and other defamatory statements and caricatures.

If the internment of Japanese Americans was such great public policy why does Malkin not recommend such a policy in 2004? Her best explanation is that Muslims are too geographically dispersed? So if Muslims were largely confined to Michigan is Malkin suggesting that internment would be appropriate?

Given that terrorist incitement takes place within mosques and within Muslim organizations I think it is perfectly appropriate to monitor mosques and to infiltrate Muslim organizations. You could add Muslim schools to the list. One may recall when a young Muslim girl who attended a Muslim day school in Brooklyn was interviewed on 60 Minutes she said that her ambition in life was to become a suicide bomber. Later, she clarified her statement and said that she would only become a suicide bomber in Israel. If threats to our existence are being hatched in the mosques, schools and within public organizations then this is where our attention ought to be focused.

Believe me I don't much stock in the politics of civil liberties lobby. The Bush Administration has not done anything that rises to the level of the Japanese internment.

Aside from the indignities suffered by people who had nothing to do with the Japanese war effort, the internment was and is bad public policy. It casts too wide a net and targets people on the basis of who they are rather than what they do.

Cordially,
Aaron
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