Remember Pearl Harbor? Could The U.S. Be Responding The Same Way Now?

Today December 7th is the 69th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attacks. As was said back in 1941 by then President Franklin D Roosevelt it was ‘a day that will live in infamy‘. What also will live in infamy is the often overlooked plight that fell upon American citizens of Japanese decent. President Roosevelt fearing espionage issued executive order Executive Order 9066, in February of 1942 which led to the FBI and other government agencies rounding-up Japanese Americans, seizing their property  and locked them up what was called War Relocation Camps.  These internment camps which were essentially prisons became home to over 120 thousand Japanese American citizens many who had served our country, were productive citizens and pillars in the community. Sadly in our collective hysteria and us being in the midst of extra-ordinary times and feeling a need to take extra-ordinary measures.  we saw fit to lock up ( the word used back in 1941 was ‘evacuate) American citizens who fit a certain ethnic profile wholesale. It was a shameful moment for our country.

Could such a thing happen today in 2010? There were laws passed to supposedly prevent such things from re-occurring, but it sure seemed like that after the dreadful 9-11 attacks. If you recall there were all sorts of violent attacks against fellow citizens perceived as being Muslim. Some said the threats of another terrorist attack was so grave that ‘extra-ordinary measures needed to be taken including profiling, spying, indefinite detaining  and even confinement.

Periodically in the years that followed where hatred toward fellow American citizens who practice Islam have taken some nasty turns including a few months ago around the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. We had TV pundits and elected officials including a sitting congressman Louie Gohmert trying to scare the public about the imminent threats of Terror Babies’ being unleashed. These terror babies were the American born children of Muslims who were taken out the country shortly after birth, trained to be terrorists and sent back to the US  when they turned 18 to destroy our way of life. Hence it was strongly urged that we pass laws, change our constitution and take ‘extra-ordinary‘ steps do whatever it takes to protect ourselves.

Could internment camps happen today in 2010? Well many argue you see that’s what’s been happening now with undocumented people here in the states. There are numerous detention centers all over the country, that have held entire families including small children, the most notable was the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Texas which was closed down sometime last year.

Now many would argue in 2010 with the same black and white vehemence expressed back in 1941, that our country is at risk and folks who don’t belong here or haven’t gotten their paper work straight need to be locked up-end of story.

Hopefully we remember the shame and harm done to fellow Americans after Pearl Harbor  and never travel down that path again no matter how big the crises.

Below is a song from Mike Shinoda of Linkin park and his other group Fort Minor. The song Kenji addresses this important issue

Mike Shinoda and his group Fort Minor did a song paying tribute to those Japanese -Americans interned at War Re-Location Camps Fort Minor – Kenji

My father came from Japan in 1905
He was 15 when he immigrated from Japan
He worked until he was able to buy to actually build a store

Let me tell you the story in the form of a dream,
I don’t know why I have to tell it but I know what it means,
Close your eyes, just picture the scene,
As I paint it for you, it was World War II,
When this man named Kenji woke up,
Ken was not a soldier,
He was just a man with a family who owned a store in LA,
That day, he crawled out of bed like he always did,
Bacon and eggs with wife and kids,
He lived on the second floor of a little store he ran,
He moved to LA from Japan,
They called him ‘Immigrant,’
In Japanese, he’d say he was called “Issei,”
That meant ‘First Generation In The United States,’
When everybody was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the Japs,
But most of all afraid of a homeland attack,
And that morning when Ken went out on the doormat,
His world went black ’cause,
Right there; front page news,
Three weeks before 1942,
“Pearl Harbour’s Been Bombed And The Japs Are Comin’,”
Pictures of soldiers dyin’ and runnin’,
Ken knew what it would lead to,
Just like he guessed, the President said,
“The evil Japanese in our home country will be locked away,”
They gave Ken, a couple of days,
To get his whole life packed in two bags,
Just two bags, couldn’t even pack his clothes,
Some folks didn’t even have a suitcase, to pack anything in,
So two trash bags is all they gave them,
When the kids asked mom “Where are we goin’?”
Nobody even knew what to say to them,
Ken didn’t wanna lie, he said “The US is lookin’ for spies,
So we have to live in a place called Manzanar,
Where a lot of Japanese people are,”
Stop it don’t look at the gunmen,
You don’t wanna get the soldiers wonderin’,
If you gonna run or not,
‘Cause if you run then you might get shot,
Other than that try not to think about it,
Try not to worry ’bout it; bein’ so crowded,
Someday we’ll get out, someday, someday.

As soon as war broke out
The F.B.I. came and they just come to the house and
“You have to come”
“All the Japanese have to go”
They took Mr. Ni
People didn’t understand
Why did they have to take him?
Because he’s an innocent laborer

So now they’re in a town with soldiers surroundin’ them,
Every day, every night look down at them,
From watch towers up on the wall,
Ken couldn’t really hate them at all;
They were just doin’ their job and,
He wasn’t gonna make any problems,
He had a little garden with vegetables and fruits that,
He gave to the troops in a basket his wife made,
But in the back of his mind, he wanted his families life saved,
Prisoners of war in their own damn country,
What for?
Time passed in the prison town,
He wanted them to live it down when they were free,
The only way out was joinin’ the army,
And supposedly, some men went out for the army, signed on,
And ended up flyin to Japan with a bomb,
That 15 kiloton blast, put an end to the war pretty fast,
Two cities were blown to bits; the end of the war came quick,
Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wife,
But, when they got back to their home,
What they saw made them feel so alone,
These people had trashed every room,
Smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors,
Written on the walls and the floor,
“Japs not welcome anymore.”
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside,
He, looked at his wife without words to say,
She looked back at him wiping tears away,
And, said “Someday we’ll be ok, someday,”
Now the names have been changed, but the story’s true,
My family was locked up back in ’42,
My family was there it was dark and damp,
And they called it an internment camp

When we first got back from camp
It was pretty pretty bad

I I remember my husband

Source: Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner


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