The titular euphemism “relocation” used in Gary Bullert’s guest editorial on the discriminatory incarceration of U.S. citizens based solely on their ethnicity speaks magnitudes.
Later, he claims it was the “aggression of Imperial Japan that prompted the American response.” This argument rests upon the warrant that the incarcerated Americans had been working for Japan — they hadn’t — which is the epitome of discrimination: associating a group of Americans with an enemy state based on ethnicity.
There is no mention of Japanese ancestry in Executive Order 9066; its selective application to overwhelmingly target Japanese Americans demonstrates racism: antagonistic discrimination aimed at persons of a different race than those in power. Indeed, racial prejudice had plagued Japanese Americans, who had been disallowed from land ownership and other aspects of civic life for decades. Upon being liberated from incarceration, many found their land, homes and savings gone. Japanese-born persons were barred from naturalization through the early 1950s.
Was the incarceration of Japanese Americans racist? Yes. Attempts to revise history puts us on course to repeat past mistakes. Accepting this part of our history, learning its lesson, and making more informed choices based on it is the American spirit of democracy we must protect and foster.
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Donny Anderson, Kennewick