Japanese Interment: Not Only Important for Historical Perspective

When my high school history teacher first taught us about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2, I was shocked that something like that had happened. But it was “ancient” history to a teenager. I honestly didn’t see the relevance of the topic to my life in the 1980’s.

As I began researching to write my novel, Go Forward with Courage, the relevance to modern times became increasingly clear to me. While the novel was being edited, my husband drew my attention to an interview given by a retired US Army general who suggested the solution to Islamic terrorism was to lock up young Muslim men in camps. (Watch interview here)

Who gets to decide which Americans are “disloyal”? You might want to believe that the FBI had compiled credible evidence against these Japanese American citizens who were placed in camps, but that was not the case. Their ancestry alone was the sole deciding factor in their internment.

Someone shared this article on my Facebook page this morning, and I thought it was a wonderful example of how little most Americans understand about this topic. A middle school class researched their ancestry and one young man discovered that his grandmother was born in a horse stall during internment.

George Takei’s new Broadway musical Allegiance also tackles this painful period in history. The show is earning rave reviews and features one of my favorites–the beautiful and talented Lea Solonga. I can’t wait to see it myself, and I hope that it continues to shed light on this important subject. Especially since the subject is even more relevant today than it has been since the war.

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4 thoughts on “Japanese Interment: Not Only Important for Historical Perspective

  1. While I am not an activist, the imprisonment did happen. It was authorized by FDR as you know. There WAS espionage being conducted by a few Japanese and Japanese-Americans; this was known by several of government agencies and also through our breaking of the secret Japanese embassy’s code. One such person was even Charlie Chaplain’s chauffeur.

    But it was not en masse although there was GREAT disagreements within each camp – between extremes, between generations, within families not disclosed in common public teachings. However, the fact remains FDR did something very illegal. He took rights away from those already HERE. They weren’t refugees. In a different light, we certainly didn’t take in Japanese refugees once war started.

    Today, some people believe we are at war; some do not… But I feel there is great dis-information being exercised by those in charge – be it government or media. Have you ever thought, “Why don’t we see more camera videos of what ISIS really does on TV and social media?”, yet we certainly see lots of video on what is touted to be race incidents here?

    But I feel there is one big conceptual difference present today from my father’s generation. Yes, he was imprisoned, too. Today, those inhumans who invaded a foreign country (France) solely with intent to kill were embarked on a RELIGIOUS war. I don’t believe that was the case with the Japanese-Americans back then. They tried their best to assimilate and these Buddhists and Christians didn’t plan on murdering thousands of Americans. Anyways, those are some of my feelings on “Relocation” as named by the government back then.

    I do look forward to reading your novel!

    1. I greatly value your opinion, and I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my blog. I read many of your family’s stories while researching my novel. I was particularly intrigued by your Aunt Michie, and I named a major character after her (with a slightly modified spelling to match some first names of young people who were in the Rohwer Camp). I agree with your comments and I too think that families who came here from Japan tried to assimilate. If you do get a chance to read the book, I certainly hope you feel it does justice to the topic and I’d love to get your feedback! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

      1. You, too, have a wonderful Thanksgiving made possible by those who wore – or are wearing – our country’s uniforms. I am humbled by your incorporating Aunt Michie’s in spirit and also for you reading some of my posts. If I spoke out of turn, please just let me know as I realize for every person who may see something as being wrong, one will see it as right.

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